evanston-childrens-choir

The music appears to have stopped in the game of musical chairs over which arts groups will remain at the Noyes Cultural Arts Center — and the group left with no chair is the Evanston Children’s Choir.

Evanston City Manager Wally Bobkiewicz says he made the decision about which group had to go based on seniority and the size of the space each group needed

“We’ve had some people in the building since 1980,” Bobkiewicz said, “and no policy about what to do in a circumstance where not everyone already there could be accommodated.”

Bobkiewicz has been working to reconfigure space assignments at Noyes to clear the way for a plan from the Piven Theatre to expand its space and and pay, over time, for renovations to the building.

The city manager says the city itself can’t afford to fund ongoing capital needs at the former school building itself.

During the time the Piven expansion plans have been under discussion several other Noyes tenants have moved out on their own — easing the space crunch.

But the children’s choir was the newest addition to the remaining tenant roster that needed a full-size former classroom space in the building.

Choir Director Gary Geiger says he believes none of the existing tenants should be forced out.

Although the group only holds practices in its space for roughly an hour a day on weekday afternoons, Geiger says, it’s kind of like a football stadium. “You need a stadium just once a week, but you really need it then.”

Geiger is urging choir supporters to turn out at the City Council’s Human Service Committee meeting at 7:30 p.m. on Monday, May 6, at which the Piven Theatre proposal is scheduled to be discussed.

He says the choir serves children in over 100 families a year on a budget of around $75,000 and that roughly 40 percent of the children participating are from minority groups.

Bill Smith is the editor and publisher of Evanston Now.

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