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New Evanston Arts Council committee aims to unite businesses with artists

Sam Krevlin, Reporter

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A new Evanston Creative Commerce Committee has been formed in an effort to facilitate work between artists and businesses in the city.

Still in its infant stages, the committee is comprised of artists, small business owners and nonprofit gathered under the Evanston Arts Council. The process for creating the group started a couple years ago when the art and business committee in the Evanston Arts Council stagnated, committee member Charlotta Koppanyi said.

Leadership Evanston, a program through the Evanston Community Foundation, began researching alternative ways to promote the arts in business within the city.

Charlotta Koppanyi, one of the original members of the committee, began looking at cities such as Milwaukee and Seattle to see how artists worked with businesses. She said it is important for Evanston to keep money within the community and promote local businesses, since the city may not have as much money as larger cities.

“It is important that money is spent in a town where the money is local and where the companies and organizations are local,” Koppanyi said. “When you have large corporations and the money leaves the city, it is a big loss for everybody financially.”

Sandeep Ghaey, a small business owner and member of the committee, said one of the challenges is getting the business community to see the advantages of making small investments into art. He said these kinds of investments tend to improve quality of life and helps the local economy.

“It is a hurdle to overcome,” Ghaey said. “But we also want these relationships to cultivate and outlive our involvement in them. We want them to be mutually beneficial so that both parties continue to do it after we make the introduction.”

Jennifer Lasik of the Evanston Arts Council said artists and businesses can sometimes have adversarial relationships. Artists typically only want help from businesses for money, while businesses want artists to donate their material, Lasik said. The goal of the committee, she said, is to bridge this divide.

“Sometimes it is a very superficial relationship, but we want them to actually work together and to have long-term relationships,” Lasik said.

Because the committee is still in its early stages, no projects have officially begun. Lasik said some potential projects could involve business owners displaying Evanston artwork in their stores. Ghaey also mentioned a potential shuttle service that would make it easier for Evanston residents to attend art galleries, concerts or theatrical performances.

“We don’t want them to be difficult partnerships,” Ghaey said. “We want them to be part of our everyday business.”

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Twitter: @samkrevlin

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