Music Institute to move headquarters to Evanston


Daily file photo by Ina Yang

The Music Institute of Chicago will move its headquarters to downtown Evanston this year. Other programs that will also be based in Evanston include the Institute's therapy throughout the arts, world music and musical theater programs.

Ciara McCarthy, Reporter

The Music Institute of Chicago will be moving its headquarters to downtown Evanston this year.

In addition to its administrative headquarters, the Institute will relocate its musical theater, therapy through the arts and world music programs to Evanston Galleria, 1702 Sherman Ave. The Institute’s current headquarters are in Wilmette, where it has been based for nearly seven years. It also has seven branches throughout the Chicago area offering a variety of lessons and programs.

Mark George, the Institute’s president and CEO, said he began looking for new facilities because the Institute’s current lease expires in 2013. George said staffers reviewed more than 50 sites throughout the North Shore area, and Evanston was their first choice.

“I think the diversity of our programming aligns really well with the diversity of the Evanston community,” he said.

The city manager’s office reached out to the Institute to help with the search, George said, adding he was also attracted to Evanston’s large art scene.

Sara Schastok, a member of local art collaboration EvanstARTs, said she is eager for the arrival of the Institute and everything it will bring to Evanston’s art community.

“This is a wonderful thing that they’re moving their headquarters,” she said. “Now they are a part of the community and not just an organization with a theater here.”

The headquarters will join the Institute’s Nichols Concert Hall at 1490 Chicago Ave., which George said will allow for greater “synergy” between the programs.

Ken Behles, the architect for the Institute’s headquarters, said the space inside Evanston Galleria used to be a church and would renovate easily into a small theater.

George said he expects the building will be ready for occupancy by July.

The relocation will move nearly a quarter of the Institute’s programs to Evanston, bringing a wide array of classes to residents. Schastok said she is especially excited for the Institute’s therapy through the arts program, which will join other art therapy programs in Evanston.

“One of the things about the arts is that the arts are important for the process that they provide for people, not just the product,” she said.

The Institute will celebrate the pending relocation as well as Martin Luther King, Jr. Day with a free concert Sunday at Nichols Concert Hall.