Evanston Art Center calls on public to raise $150K of $2.5 million for new space

The Evanston Art Center is currently located in the Harley Clarke Mansion, 2603 Sheridan Road. The center plans to move to a new location on Central Street in the spring.

Daily file photo by Hillary Back

The Evanston Art Center is currently located in the Harley Clarke Mansion, 2603 Sheridan Road. The center plans to move to a new location on Central Street in the spring.

Stephanie Kelly, Assistant City Editor

The Evanston Art Center is asking the public to contribute $150,000 to fund the center’s move to a new building through an online campaign launched earlier this month.

The center, currently located at the Harley Clarke Mansion at 2603 Sheridan Road, plans to move to 1717 Central St. in the spring. The project will cost $2.5 million in total.

The campaign to raise the money is taking shape in different ways. An Indiegogo fundraising page that launched Sept. 3 is dedicated to raising $150,000 to renovate the new building. As of Monday morning the page has raised $3,150, totaling 2 percent of its final goal, which the staff hopes to reach by Nov. 2.

The rest of the $2.5 million total will be raised through the art center staff soliciting donations from foundations, corporations, businesses or other individuals, executive director Norah Diedrich said. All of the money raised will be used on the new building and its renovations, she said.

The new expanded space will allow the center to provide more programming beyond the gallery space, classes and performances it offers now, Diedrich said.

“The artists who are working today work in a very transdisciplinary way, they’re learning all kinds of different mediums,” Diedrich said. “That’s what we want our programs to be. We feel we need a different space to do that.”

The center plans to offer woodworking, culinary arts and language arts in the new space.

Alderman terminated the art center’s lease on the Harley Clarke mansion in February 2014 after months of controversy over the needs for repairs at the mansion. Evanston rented the property to the center for $1 a year, which became problematic for the city when it started to calculate the amount of money needed to renovate the mansion.

Staff originally planned the center’s move at the beginning of 2012, when they came up with a strategic plan for the center’s growth. One of the goals was to have a sustainable art center.

“The (Sheridan Road) building needed a lot of repair, maintenance and capital funds,” said Jennifer Lasik, Evanston’s cultural arts coordinator. “The art center, as a nonprofit that serves the community, just did not have that kind of funding to pour into the building.”

A search committee chose the new location because of its vicinity to nearby shops, restaurants and transportation. With the art gallery on the first floor, Diedrich said it’s important that people can walk in and become immersed in art instantly.

Diedrich said the new center is critical for Evanston.

“There’s no other place (in Evanston) where people can just go and feel like they’re welcome to walk in and participate and learn and be a part of it,” she said.

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Previous stories on this topic:

    State agency details plans for Harley Clarke as art center looks for new location
    City Council gives art center additional time to vacate Harley Clarke Mansion
    Evanston Art Center may not withstand eviction, director says
    Evanston Art Center decides it wants to stay in Harley Clarke Mansion
    Evanston Art Center addresses Harley Clarke Mansion controversy