Leaders of the Evanston Art Center will ask aldermen tonight for 60 days to develop a plan to let the group stay at the lakefront Harley Clarke mansion.
The non-profit, which has an annual operating budget of over $1.1 million, has enjoyed a $1 a year lease on the roughly 16,000 square foot city-owned building for decades.
If it were to pay rent equivalent to what the city charges tenants at the Noyes Cultural Arts Center, it would generate roughly $200,000 a year that could be used to fund needed capital improvements to the property.
In a presentation prepared for tonight’s meeting, Arts Center Executive Director Norah Diedrich says the group is willing to modify its lease terms “correlated to the level of capital investment required of EAC.”
It’s not clear whether the group is prepared to raise fees it charges its 2,100 students for classes, trim staffing, or what other measures it hopes to take to cover any new costs.
The art center’s leadership has spent over a year looking at possible alternative sites and made an offer on one property that was turned down.
Diedrich says the group has concluded it would cost $4 million to $8 million to purchase and renovate a new space — a cost that “far exceeds” its financial capacity.
The current lease on the mansion, which runs through 2021, is subject to early termination by either party with sufficient notice.
Top: An image of a painting class from the art center’s presentation.