19th Alderman Matt O’Shea made an announcement last week in the courtyard of the Beverly Arts Center (BAC) that puts a plan in place to save the center. The news goes a long way toward keeping the doors of the BAC open, which offers the community classes in art, music, dance, and theater. The center offers arts education programs and is the premier fine arts facility located in Chicago’s historic Beverly/Morgan Park neighborhood.
The BAC also offers rotating exhibitions of art by established and emerging artists. The BAC has one of the most dynamic performing arts programs in the city of Chicago.
Phil Kadner of the Southtown/Star reported that the BAC’s financial problems stem from a 2002 building campaign that was projected to cost $7 million initially, but ended up costing $12 million. Fifth Third Bank was about to foreclose when Mayor Emanuel intervened. The bank offered to reduce the arts center’s debt by $2 million if citizens, businesses and philanthropic donors raised $500,000 in one year.
This will leave about $4.25 million, which would be split into two loans of $1.75 million and $2.5 million. The center says it will be able to pay off the $1.75 million loan with its current revenue stream, said the Chicago Tribune. To settle the other loan, Fifth Third has agreed to forgive $2 million — if the center can raise $500,000 in donations, according to city officials.
That has already started with Joan and Bill Baffes and their family, owners of County Fair Foods, 108th Street and Western Avenue, stepping forward to kick off the local fundraising drive by donating $125,000. “We have a wonderful community,” Baffes told Phil Kadner of the Southtown/Star. “They give to us and we wanted to give back.” The Baffes family has been in business at the same location for 50 years.
In addition, Lori and Ed McGunn, another Beverly family, contributed $25,000.
Mayor Rahm Emanuel also attended the announcement and said that he will release $250,000 in privately raised NATO legacy funds will be donated to support the financial revitalization of the Beverly Arts Center (BAC). The $250,000 from the NATO legacy apparently will be used to help pay off a separate portion of the debt, amounting to $1.7 million, which the art center has the ability to pay off without additional help.
“Chicago is home to a vibrant cultural and art community that continues to shape our future and promotes the vitality of our neighborhoods,” said Mayor Rahm Emanuel. “For four decades, the Beverly Arts Center has given generations of children and families the ability to experience world-class art and art education. With this investment we will ensure Chicago neighborhoods remain a destination for creativity, innovation and the arts.”
The Beverly Arts Center is a nonprofit organization sustained by its members and community that offers multidiscipline, multicultural fine arts education, programming and entertainment for all ages. The BAC has classes in art, music, dance, and theater; rotating exhibitions of art by established and emerging artists; and one of the most dynamic performing arts programs in the city.
“Our community would have been devastated if the doors of the Beverly Arts Center were closed for good,” said Alderman Matt O’Shea. “Thankfully Mayor Emanuel, a handful of generous donors like the Baffes & McGunn families, and Representative Hurley recognize what a vital role the arts play in our community and they’ve secured funding that will keep the Beverly Arts Center strong for years to come.”
“The Beverly Arts Center and the communities it serves are grateful for this important support,” said Barbara O’Malley, BAC Board President. “The gifts enable the Beverly Arts Center to move forward with confidence, continuing to provide quality arts programming and entertainment.”
From the outset, Mayor Emanuel committed that Chicago taxpayers would not be responsible for any of the costs associated with hosting the NATO Summit. Federal funds and private funds raised by the NATO host committee were used to pay for the costs associated with hosting the summit, and those costs came in under budget. The remaining private funds are being used where they are needed most – directly in Chicago’s communities, to the direct benefit of Chicago’s residents.
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John is the author of an award-winning book, the 2010 Winner of the USA National Best Book award for African American studies, published by The Elevator Group, Mr. and Mrs. Grassroots. Also available an eBook on Amazon. John is also a member of the Society of Midland Authors and is a book reviewer of political books for the New York Journal of Books. John has volunteered for many political campaigns.