Two Million for Arts Center

The grant is meant to draw more philanthropic support for facility, which will include a 70-seat theater.

By Adam Thorp, Editor-in-Chief ('18–'19)

A $2 million challenge grant will support the University’s development of an arts district on the eastern edge of Washington Park, the University announced yesterday.

The Efroymson Family Fund made the donation in support of the Green Line Arts Center, which is planned for a location across the street from the Garfield Avenue Green Line stop.

“The generous grant from the Efroymson Family Fund makes it possible for the University to begin building the new arts center and to expand the impact of Arts + Public Life’s community and artist-focused programming,” said Bill Brown, the senior advisor to the provost for the arts, in the University’s written statement.

Construction is expected to begin on the Arts Center late this summer. The center will encompass 6,600 square feet of renovated store fronts, designed by Johnston Marklee, a Los Angeles based architectural firm. It will feature lobby space, a 70-seat black-box theater, green room, and rehearsal space. Renderings released by the University show a new black structure reaching a floor above and back from the terra cotta facade of the vacant building currently standing in the location.

The Green Line Arts Center will join the University’s Arts Incubator and the Currency Exchange Cafe and Bing Arts Books, both owned by the University’s Arts and Public Life program director Theaster Gates, as part of the University’s Arts Block project. The Arts Center would provide a venue and resources for filmmakers, performers and other artists.

The grant is meant to elicit matching commitments from other donors. The University hopes to attract $10 million in private support for the Arts Block, $8 million of which would go to support the arts center, according to an estimate Gates gave to the Chicago Tribune. In a conversation with The Maroon last year, University President Robert Zimmer emphasized that private philanthropy would have to play a larger role in the future development of the block.

Since it was founded in 1998, the Efroymson Family Fund, part of the Central Indiana Community Foundation, has donated more than $100 million in support of the arts and other causes in the Midwest, especially in central Indiana.

The proposed center backs onto 55th Place.
The proposed center backs onto 55th Place. (University of Chicago)