Editorial: New theater district will benefit both Evanston and NU

The Daily Northwestern Editorial Board

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The proposed development of a performing arts district in downtown Evanston creates intriguing new prospects for NU students interested in theater.

Last summer Evanston received a $50,000 grant from the National Endowment for the Arts to conduct an architectural feasibility study to develop a plan for the project.

The project took another step forward Jan. 19, when NEA chairman Rocco Landesman joined top city officials and leaders of Evanston’s arts community for a roundtable discussion and walking tour of the downtown area they hope to transform.

Although the project is still in its early developmental stages, The Daily believes the creation of such a district will be a welcome addition for both Evanston and NU.

A project of this magnitude will not only create jobs during the construction phases and beyond, but could also generate positive interest and attract artists and businesses to the area.

In addition, the district will help to rejuvenate the downtown area. Evanston officials said they hope to create the theater district by constructing new buildings and revitalizing the empty storefronts that have become far too common recently.

The Daily also stresses that a new theater district in Evanston should not be viewed as a development that could take revenue and attendance away from established NU arts events.

Rather, it should be seen as an alternative outlet for students to display their talents in the performing arts. With this new venue in which to perform, students will undoubtedly have more chances to participate in productions. As Ald. Coleen Burrus (9th) told The Daily during the walking tour last week, the development of a downtown theater district can benefit NU by creating opportunities for students to take part in local and regional theater.

A new theater district in the downtown area will provide multiple advantages for residents, and therefore the NU community should actively support the city in this endeavor.

The Daily hopes the creation of a performing arts district in Evanston will benefit the NU community in the same way NU’s performing arts programs and resources have benefitted – and continue to benefit – the city of Evanston.