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The Daily Northwestern

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Northwestern University and Evanston's Only Daily News Source Since 1881

The Daily Northwestern

Northwestern University and Evanston's Only Daily News Source Since 1881

The Daily Northwestern

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A Bright Night for the Arts event gathers arts community, recognizes Mayor’s Awards for the Arts

Megija Medne/The Daily Northwestern
Mayor Daniel Biss acknowledged Chris Greeneand and the Mitchell Museum of the American Indian as the recipients of the Annual Mayor’s Awards for the Arts.

With heartwarming performances and delicious treats, Mayor Daniel Biss and the Evanston Arts Council honored the contributions of Evanston’s artists and arts organizations at the city’s annual “A Bright Night for the Arts” event Wednesday at the Theo Ubique Cabaret Theatre. 

Chatters and warm exchanges filled the room long before the program started. The Theo Ubique Theatre was the perfect place for such an intimate environment, said Chris Greene, a local jazz saxophonist, composer and band leader.

Greene, however, wasn’t just there as an attendee. During the event, Biss also recognized the Annual Mayor’s Awards for the Arts recipients, which were announced by the Evanston Arts Council earlier this fall. Artists and art organizations were nominated by the Evanston community for their contributions to the arts landscape in the city. 

Greene, along with the Mitchell Museum of the American Indian, were selected from the pool of 21 nominees to receive the 2023 award. Both recipients gave speeches at Wednesday’s event.

Greene said in his speech that this award means the world to him. As an Evanston native, he said much of his career and achievements were rooted in the city, from his first performance avenues to regular visits to record shops and inspiration from the local musicians — it all connects to this city.  

“This means a lot just because it’s my hometown, these are people that I literally interact with every single day unless I leave town to go to the city to go play somewhere,” Greene told the Daily. “I’m a big fan of the things that Evanston Arts Council has been able to do over the years so again, the fact that they recognize me for anything was meaningful.”

Biss said Greene’s story reflects Evanston’s role as “a creative hub for young musicians.” 

Founded in 1997, the Mitchell Museum honors the history, culture and arts of Indigenous people across the United States and Canada. The museum aims to promote a greater understanding of Indigenous communities through a variety of exhibitions, events and projects.

“We have a lot of stuff going forward,” said Kim Vigue, an executive director of the Mitchell Museum. “On December 9, we have our native arts market that is also free and then we have a native Indigenous representation and children’s literature project in partnership with Northwestern Center for Native American and Indigenous Research.”

In his speech, Biss recognized the work of the Mitchell Museum of the American Indian. Beyond the educational and cultural enrichment of the city, he said Mitchell Museum staff brings thoughtful input to the city government.

The museum is an extraordinary gift and treasure of education, culture and understanding in an area that deserves more resources and input, Biss said.

As several speakers pointed out, the two honorees are part of a much broader, flourishing arts community in the city. Melissa Molitor, a chair of the Evanston Arts Council, referenced a recent study on the arts in Evanston in her speech, which showed that the city was home to 10 times more residents employed in arts-related work than the national average.

“The numbers tell me that we have the creative resources that we need to build a community that we strive for. We just need to keep investing in them.” Molitor said. 

Following Molitor’s speech, Sarah Marie Young, an award-winning musician and songwriter, performed two of her songs: “Oh How We Love” and “Sparrow.” She finished her performance with a cover of “Have You Ever Seen the Rain?” by Creedence Clearwater Revival. 

Members of the Fleetwood-Jourdain Theatre performed an excerpt from their recent production of “The Light” by Loy A. Webb, filling the room with laughter. 

“I didn’t know what to expect, because it was my first time coming here, and it was amazing,” said attendee Verónica Aldana. “Both performances… (I) was speechless.”

Email: [email protected] 

Twitter: @_megija

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