Evanston arts groups are pushing for the city to provide a full-time staff person at the Noyes Cultural Arts Center.

At the Human Services Committee meeting Monday night leaders of the Noyes Tenants’ Association and the Evanston Arts Council argued that a city staffer needs to be on site to provide security for art exhibits and directions to center visitors.

Maggie Weiss of the tenants’ group said having art on display in the building’s corridors is part of what’s needed to make it a lively space — but that artists risk having their works damaged or stolen if there’s not security.

The city recently moved staffers who had been at Noyes to the Civic Center as part of an effort to create more space at Noyes that could be rented to artists.

Alderman Coleen Burrus, 9th Ward, said she thought the added expense for a staffer was unnecessary — especially when the city also takes on financial responsibility for damage to the exhibits.

Alderman Coleen Burrus.

“So you want the city, in addition to taking on liability, to hire someone to be a receptionist and a sheriff for the art work?” Burrus asked.

Lisa Degliantoni, co-chair of the arts council, said the tenants are already paying rent for their space and should be able to count on adequate security in return.

Alderman Mark Tendam, 6th Ward, said the city should treat Noyes like its other recreation centers where it has staff on duty.

“Arts are recreation and give lives purpose,” Tendam said. “Not everyone plays team sports. This is truly recreation for a lot of people in the community.”

But Burrus countered that at its other recreation centers the city is running programs, whereas at Noyes it’s primarily just renting out space to others.

Alderman Judy Fiske, 1st Ward, said she’d always felt the need to have someone at Noyes. “It’s a very difficult building to find your way around in,” she said. “The artists are paying rent to be there, and we’re asking them to put their livelihood at risk.”

But Alderman Delores Holmes, 5th Ward, said any solution “is going to have to be sustainable.”

“It gets back to the dollars and cents of it,” Holmes said. “The rents have to be sustainable.”

City Manager Wally Bobkiewicz said adding additional operating expenses would take money away from funding for needed capital improvements at the guilding.

“We’ve tried to get away from staff members who just sit,” Bobkiewicz added, and he said volunteers might be the solution. “We’ve had a lot of success with volunteers here at the Civic Center.”

The staffing issue was part of a broader report on guidelines for administering the Noyes Center.

The committee voted 5-1 to receive the report, but postponed any further action until the city manager could develop a plan for putting its recommendations into operation — essentially leaving the staffing issue unresolved.

Bill Smith is the editor and publisher of Evanston Now.

Join the Conversation


  1. Of course they do

    They want the city to fund everything they can so they can use their money to support 'actors' who think they have a shot at making it big on Broadway or Hollywood and want the government [tax payers] to pay for their vocational training.

    However this 'training' will only end up costing the taxpayers when they fail [as most will—even NU 'performers' and wind-up with minimum wage jobs like baggers for Jewel—and taxpayers give them welfare for their 'sad state' of affairs.

  2. Coleen Burrus

    Re: Coleen Burrus. Who is this alderman, and why is she an arts hater? My goodness, after making outright lies about EAC, now I read this sarcastic statement about tenants wanting security. I hope her ward can find a better representative in the next election.

    1. A champion of the taxpayer

      Alderman Burrus has always been a champion of the taxpayer.  That is all I read into her quotes in this article.  I believe in the "Arts" and I believe that Alderman Burrus also believes in the "Arts".    I also believe that a landlord can only provide the services that the tenants want to pay for.  If the Noyes tenants want additional services for the building, then rents should be raised enough to compensate the landlord for those services.  Simply business; not sarcasm.

  3. God willing, Our next mayor

    Coleen Burrus seems to be the only alderperson we have who understands where the city gets its money from. While she can presently only represent the 9th ward, I hope that when the time comes, she can represent the entire city of Evanston.

    1. Add Alderman Don Wilson to that list

      Alderman Wilson also "understands where the city gets its money from." He's thoughtful, cares about the city, wants all different parts of the city and our diverse citizenry to be successful, but he's fiscally responsible and understands that taxpayers have limited resources. 

      Maybe one day, he "can represent the entire city of Evanston."


    2. Our next Mayor are you kidding?
      Coleen Burrus is an employee of Northwestern University its no secret, she has had to recluse herself on issues with them. At the same time, why would she ask her employer to do anything more for the city? Maybe you can explain to me, how as Mayor she could have a meeting with the president of Northwestern University and represent us when he is her boss?

      By the why she was stating it would take $10 million dollars to fix Harley Clarke and it had major enviroment issues, both of these statements were way off. I am not so certain she has a good understanding of were our money comes from and were its going.

      Wilson would be a better chose. But lately he appears to have given up, trying to put forward any statements against the wasteful spending going on here.

    3. Mayor is weaker than Alderman

      The mayor only votes on issues when there is a tie–a rarity on a council with 9 members.  If you really want someone to keep their influence, encourage them to continue being an alderman.

      The only real "power" the mayor has is the ability to appoint people to commissions.  But the council routinely ignores commission work so this power is a bit facile.

      1. Aldermanic 2 year terms

        A tenth ward should be created out of the gerrymandered downtown, to make tie votes the mayor could break more frequent and also better represent the condo dwellers. When the City reduced the Council from 18 to 9 aldermen, citizens lost the ability to influence city government every two years.

        There's no reason why an alderman's term should be 4 years- it should be cut to 2.

        1. Term length is not an issue since no one runs

          John, I am not necessarily opposed to 2-year terms; but in order for citizens to influence government in the manner you are suggesting you need opposition candidates!

          The last time out, only two of the races were contested.  Is the length of term really what is precluding people from running?

          My sense is that there are other factors at work.

  4. It’s a CAM charge

    When a commercial tenant ask for a service from a commercial landlord the landlord may well consider and provide the service the tenants are asking for. 

    The landlord will then charge back the cost of the additional service as a CAM charge.  That charge gets split up between the tenants according to the amount of space each tenant occupies and each tenant pays 1/12 of their respective charges every month.

    Very standard in any commercial lease, and Noyes leases are exactly that.  The landlord (city) should entertain the request, tenants (noyes arts tenants) should be ready to pay for their request.

    Taxpayers should not be expected to pay the cost of this tenant request.

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