ECC Arts Center getting facelift ahead of 25th season
Thousands of budding and professional artists have come through the halls of Elgin Community College's Arts Center, which is marking its 25th season this fall.
The center, which opened in January of 1994 in Building H on ECC's Elgin campus, is getting a much-needed makeover ahead of the anniversary as work on a roughly $3.2 million renovation project comes to a close.
Formerly called the Visual and Performing Arts Center, Building H hasn't had any significant updates in the past 25 years, said Steven Duchrow, ECC senior director of performing arts.
"The reason that we need the renovation is residents love the building and they use it heavily," Duchrow said. "What we found is that some of the public spaces needed attention so that's primarily where the work is going to be."
Work began in mid-June. It involves a lobby renovation with new painting, carpeting and furniture, remodeling restrooms on the first, second and third floors, and the installation of energy-efficient hallway lighting. The main elevator in the lobby also will be updated.
Upgrades to the 662-seat Blizzard Theatre include new auditorium seating, carpeting, lighting, remodeling of dressing rooms and the green room areas, safety upgrades to the mechanical rigging system that raises the sets and lights over the stage, and replacing the stage floor.
ECC's Arts Center averages more than 30,000 attendees for 250 performances yearly.
Duchrow said it is used for instruction and performances by more than the roughly 4,300 ECC students who attend music, theater and visual arts classes there.
"It is really a communal gathering place," Duchrow said. "It is used by the college ensembles. It is also used by the in-residence ensembles, which are community performance groups which we have taken under our wing that live, work, teach and perform at the college."
The center also is available for renting by local dance and theater groups, who benefit from the college's theater technicians, ushers and ticketing box office.
From hosting performances by national and international visiting artists to aiding local productions, the center plays a crucial role in bringing together the community and the arts world, Duchrow said.
"It's always been ... a community space," he said. "That's the philosophy. This was going to be a building that is going to serve all the residents of northern Illinois. People come from over 300 ZIP codes in 25 states annually. It's exciting to see."
The bulk of the work will be completed before classes start Aug. 19. Work on the Blizzard Theatre will wrap up before scheduled performances in late September.
A ribbon-cutting ceremony with some artists performing is set for 3 to 5 p.m. Oct. 10.