About 30 people gathered this morning for the first of five listening sessions aimed at developing a roadmap for the arts in Evanston.

The participants in the session at the Music Institute of Chicago’s Nichols Hall offered a wide array of ideas for how to improve the local arts scene — both for professionals and amateurs seeking a creative outlet.

Alderman Jane Grover, in green, listens as Jim Corirossi speaks.

Looking around at the group composed mostly of women, downtown resident Jim Corirossi suggested one thing the city needs is more arts programs designed to appeal to men.

And Alderman Jane Grover, 7th Ward, suggested the city needs more opportunities for residents to express themselves artistically, without the risk of feeling self-conscious about their level of talent.

The roadmap project, also called “EvanstARTs,” is being organized by the city, its arts council and the Evanston Community Foundation.

One theme developed by consultant Amina Dickerson was that the city may need to reach beyond its own borders and form alliances with nearby communities to achieve the extraordinary arts scene that backers hope to develop.

She cited as examples the East Bay Cultural Corridor formed by Berkeley, Calif. and three neighboring communities and the Washtenaw County Cultural Plan that brought together arts groups in Ann Arbor, Mich., and a half dozen neighboring communities.

And she noted efforts by arts groups elsewhere to share service functions while maintaining their independent creative missions — including 1Berkshire, which provides consolidated back-of-house supports for arts groups in the Berkshire mountain region of western Massachusetts.

She also provided examples of arts districts that can serve as a cultural core for a community, including Pack Place Education, Arts and Science Center in Ashville, N.C., and the Gordon Square Arts District in Cleveland, Ohio.

Another listening sessions was scheduled for tonight at the Fleetwood-Jourdain Community Center. Here’s the schedule for the remaining three sessions:

  • Monday, Sept. 24, 7 to 9 p.m., at Oakton Elementary School, 436 Ridge Ave.
  • Friday, Oct. 5, 11 a.m. to 1 p.m., at the Ecology Center, 2024 McCormick Blvd.
  • Saturday, Oct. 6, 10 a.m. to noon, at the Block Museum of Art, 40 Arts Circle Drive.

Bill Smith is the editor and publisher of Evanston Now.

Join the Conversation


  1. Arts and Alderperson Grover

    To quote the article Alderperson Grover stated

    And Alderman Jane Grover, 7th Ward, suggested the city needs more opportunities for residents to express themselves artistically, without the risk of feeling self-conscious about their level of talent.

    How about submitting a cartoon to Evanstonnow?  I  wouldn't post a comment on its merit or you level of talent as an artist.

    But then again, I will express my view as you level of talent as an council member.

     Better yet how about a little leadership in your own ward, since the city is selling zoning and parkland at lighthouse beach. 

     Maybe you should ask the art center to pay more than a $1  in rent and have the city use the real rent money to fix the building. By the way when the sell the building for less than 1 million dollars, will you vote to give the art center our money as a grant to move them to a new location?  Whats a couple hundred thousand in taxpayer money? I forgot did you vote to increase he pension payment with money we don't have?



  2. The arts versus safety?

    I am a strong supporter of the arts and arts education for all. 

    But I ask: Should the City's first priority be the safety of our streets?  Citizens who are afraid to leave their homes can't participate in arts activities. Out-of-towners will stay out of town if they perceive that our streets are unsafe so they won't participate in our arts activities, either.

    Like it or not, this is where things stand right now.  With a 14-year-old boy gunned down in a residential neighborhood, we are seen as a place where young teenagers walking with friends at 10:30 at night are not safe. This morning, I have heard that from many co-workers and friends who live in other suburbs and in other states. 

    We do not have the full story on yesterday's murder.  Please don't rain down wrath on the messenger as we should be working to find solutions to our biggest problems by discussing them. 

    In my view, we have two serious problems — violent crime (such as this senseless murder) and the perception and to some extent the reality that Evanston or parts of it are not safe.  No one will venture out to arts activities if they fear that they will be shot walking home.

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