Yesterday, I spent the better part of the afternoon walking around downtown capturing a new set of pictures to add to my growing collection of Naperville photos. Along the way, I decided to head up Chicago Ave. just east of Washington to capture some images of the construction site for the new North Central Concert Hall and Fine Arts Center. I’m amazed by how fast the arts center is taking shape as it heads toward a Spring 2008 opening. Below you will find one of the photos followed by the artist rendering of the finsihed center from North Central’s website. As I stood there peering over the
(Top: 6-17-07 picture of construction progress, the experimental black box theater to the left and the Concert Hall taking shape in center of the photo Below: Artist rendering of finished Concert Hall and Arts Center)
fence, I also glanced down Chicago Avenue at the crowds of people enjoying a wonderful day in Downtown despite the heat. My mind turned to visions of how our community can both support and take advantage of this new hub for the arts. I believe there is a shared vision betwen North Central and the community for the new arts center to be buzzing with activity and opportunities to experience the arts on a daily basis for residents and visitors alike.
To place these thoughts in terms of another world class city, I remember a trip to Paris a couple of years ago in which my wife and I saw a flyer for a chamber concert which was to take place that night featuring both a small orchestra and choir at the Magdeline Church (the site of the funeral of my favorite composer of all time, Chopin). Mozart’s Requiem and Vivaldi’s Four Seasons were on the bill for the evening and the experience is one I will never forget. While I was moved by this special experience, the reality is these types of concerts are quite commonplace and somewhat informal in Paris. I was amazed by the admission process as you simply showed up at the church, stood in line, paid a person sitting at a folding table with a small cash box and then you simply sat wherever you wanted. In Paris, these types of concerts are common place and are performed by a number of local groups and ensembles weekly. The point is, the opportunity to experience these types of events are regular and quite commonplace.
As a community we must all get involved whether it be through financial support, spreading the word or coming together to determine how we can maximize the community use and presence of North Central’s world class arts facility. We must foster and promote the artistic soul within our community and welcome artists and arts organizations from outside our community to participate from both an amatuer and professional level.
In my mind, it all begins with a centralized arts alliance or local arts commission which develops and executes a coordinated master cultural plan and brings arts organizations to the table to work together. This same model has been replicated successfully in acclaimed arts communities throughout the country, such as Austin, TX, Arlington County, VA and even Chicago. When we look back at the evolution of the Special Events and Cultural Arts Fund (SECA) in Naperville, I believe strongly that much of the confusion arose from lack of such a formal alliance of local arts organizations and stakeholders. In essence, the cart was placed before the horse given the fact we had an abundance of de-centralized stakeholders working from the standpoint of their own interests and not from the mission, goals and values of a centralized arts alliance or arts commission.
Music and the arts has been an intimate part of Naperville’s history dating back to Joseph Naper and the early settlers who brought with them musical instruments and enjoyed impromptu performances within homes and other gathering places as our community grew. To succeed in building a world class arts community, we must unify our energies, creativity, expertise and resources to market and promote a well-coordinated arts presence locally, regionally, nationally and even globally. A presence which becomes a daily part of life in Naperville full of opportunities to experience and/or participate in the arts and artistic expression. A vibrant arts scene which utilizes artists, space and technology to offers a truly innovative experience. All of which will build upon the many wonderful arts traditions and organizations which are currently present in Naperville.
It all begins in coming together and working together. Please share your own thoughts and comments.
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