State grant to boost Buffalo Grove arts center
The Buffalo Grove Park District is ready to move on to the next stage for its new Community Arts Center.
A $1.73 million grant from the state will help.
The grant, announced Sunday, will fund improvements and additions to the center, including new art studios, a black-box theater that can be used as rehearsal space and for smaller productions, a new parking lot, a new roof and a new main entrance.
The center is located on the former Congregation Beth Am property at 225 McHenry Road. The park district purchased the site in 2012 for more than $3 million. The grant will partially fund an estimated $3.3 million renovation scheduled to begin next summer of 2015, and be completed by May 2017.
The money comes from $50 million available through the state's Parks and Recreational Facility Construction program.
Surrounded by members of the Buffalo Grove Studio of Dance "Hot Shots" dance team, as well as cast members of the upcoming children's production of "The Sound of Music," Park District Executive Director Dan Schimmel said the work will expand the district's "tremendously successful" theater program.
"It will allow us to do smaller productions, experimental theater type things," Schimmel said. "We'll have two classrooms for art classes for our fine arts program."
Those attending the ceremony had ample opportunity to see the center in action, since not only were cast members rehearsing for "The Sound of Music," but a matinee of the current production, "The Philadelphia Story," was playing.
Lindsay Grandt, the recreation supervisor for the park district's performing arts programming, said that although the district enjoyed using the facilities at Stevenson High School for past productions, the center gives them unlimited time and unlimited access to work.
"It's amazing. We are able to have three studio spaces, all under the same roof, instead of having multiple locations," Aly Stanczak, recreation supervisor, added.
Village President Jeffrey Braiman, who was in attendance, said, "The arts are critical towards a really viable community and the infusion of these funds should help to solidify our position as one of the best places to live."
Also receiving grants were the Mundelein Park and Recreation District ($2.3 million for its Chalet Recreation Center); Fox Lake ($799,000 to renovate the Lakefront Park Building and Grounds); and the Rolling Meadows Park District ($2.25 million to rehabilitate the mechanical systems at the Nelson Sports Complex Ice Arena).
"You won't be able to believe the impact this grant is going to have on our community," Fox Lake Mayor Donny Schmit said. "Fox Lake does not have a park district. We have a parks program. We're funded by the same funds that we fix our streets and (maintain) sewer and water with. So, funding for our parks program, as important as it is, is sporadic."
Margaret Resnick, director of parks and recreation for the Mundelein Park and Recreation District, said the funding will help turn a 2,000-square-foot building into a 12,000-square-foot building. The improvements will include fitness rooms for dance, as well as room for cooking classes and gymnasium space for children, she said.
Gov. Pat Quinn, who was on hand for the announcements, said parks and recreation "are really the heart and soul of a good life, and it is important that our state make investments in helping every park district we can."