Evanston Art Center finalizes purchase of new location

Ben Schaefer, Reporter

Following three years of searching and planning, the Evanston Art Center closed a deal Monday on the purchase of a new location.

The art center bought the building on 1717 Central St. for $2 million, said Johanna Nyden, Evanston economic development division manager, in an email to The Daily.

“It’s good news for Central Street and good news for the Evanston Art Center,” Ald. Jane Grover (7th) said. “It’s a new era for the Evanston Art Center, and it’s great that they can move into a commercial space.”

The funds for the purchase came from a $1.5 million bank loan and a $500,000 private donation. In total, more than $1.5 million has been raised for the project, executive director Norah Diedrich said.

The art center began vetting new potential locations after the city voted in February 2014 to terminate the center’s lease at its current location in the Harley Clarke Mansion.

The new center will continue to host visual arts programming including classes, exhibitions, public programs and public outreach. The new location will allow for the addition of programs in music, film and design, as well as culinary and language arts.

The increased space will also provide room for a digital fabrication lab, an artist-in-residence studio and a coffee shop.

The fundraising campaign, called See the Bigger Picture, is seeking to raise $2.5 million to renovate the new property.

A portion of the effort took place on crowdfunding site Indiegogo where fundraising organizers sought to raise $150,000. By the Sunday deadline, the site had raised $6,385.

“The Indiegogo campaign is one very small initiative,” Diedrich said. “Whatever we made there is sort of a moot point.”

The art center will leave the Harley Clarke Mansion at the end of January 2015. Directors for the art center hope to move in to their new location in April, Diedrich said.

Diedrich and director of development and communications Paula Danoff will give updates about the project’s progress later this month.

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