Northwestern University and Evanston's Only Daily News Source Since 1881

The Daily Northwestern

Northwestern University and Evanston's Only Daily News Source Since 1881

The Daily Northwestern

Northwestern University and Evanston's Only Daily News Source Since 1881

The Daily Northwestern


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Evanston Arts Council Pushes For City To Create Fundraising Position

By Megan CrepeauThe Daily Northwestern

Creativity isn’t cheap.

The Evanston Arts Council knows this – every year it produces two weeklong arts festivals, a free weekly concert series and a fair for Arts Week.

But now that the proposed 2007-08 city budget could tighten the city’s already strained holdings, the Arts Council has come up with a way to keep itself in the black.

The Arts Council has suggested the Evanston City Council create a new full-time position within city government. This employee would approach area businesses about donating to the Arts Council. Most of the donated money would go to fund Arts Council activities, though some could go to the employee as a commission and 10 percent would be earmarked for the city.

The proposal asks the city to set the employee’s salary at $30,000 plus benefits and commission, but the council’s experts estimate the position could bring in $85,000 in its first year. Even after the city’s 10 percent, that would give Evanston’s arts community a sizeable chunk of money, Arts Council member Allan Drebin said.

“The Arts Council felt that supporting the arts is an important thing,” he said. “It’s not unusual these days to have profitable corporations give money to the arts.”

Arts Council Chairwoman Leah Callaghan helped present the suggestion to the City Council. Callaghan told aldermen that Evanston has the capacity to support the position.

“All the pieces are here,” she said. “Having a program will benefit the arts in this community in a long-term way.”

The Arts Council came up with the proposal about three months ago, and after some revision and the consent of the whole council, three members presented the idea to the City Council at the Jan. 6 budget workshop. The Arts Council representatives said they hope the City Council will incorporate its suggestion into the 2007-08 city budget.

Ald. Delores Holmes (5th) said there was no consensus on the Arts Council’s proposal, but that the aldermen would consider it when they approved the city budget. Since City Manager Julia Carroll has not made official recommendations about the proposal, she said, “(the Council will) just have to look at it from how it was presented by the Arts Council” on Jan. 6.

Carroll was unavailable Monday for comment.

The City Council is currently considering the proposed 2007-08 city budget. If implemented, the budget would revamp the city’s infrastructure to help bridge the gap between Evanston’s spending and its revenue. Programs and departments could be cut in order to save money, and Drebin said many contingencies within Evanston are vying for a piece of the potentially smaller pie.

“I’m sure that if you were to talk to people with children who play hockey they’d say, well, we need to spend more on hockey teams,” he said.

Drebin defended the Arts Council’s right to have more money, citing popular programs such as the Starlight Concert Series, Arts Week and the Arts Festival that the Arts Council organizes.

“These are good programs,” Drebin said. “They draw good crowds.”

The Arts Council will give an update on the proposition’s status during its meeting at 6:30 p.m. today in the Noyes Cultural Arts Center.

Reach Megan Crepeau at [email protected].

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Evanston Arts Council Pushes For City To Create Fundraising Position