Waukegan Arts Council
The Waukegan Arts Council is a new non-profit arts organization formed for artists, art lovers and arts groups. Its purpose is to provide a forum to network, collaborate, educate and promote the arts in Waukegan. WAC is a membership organization bringing together many diverse individuals and groups interested and involved in the arts in our community under one umbrella. There is a very hard-working group of volunteers who form the WAC Executive Board as well as an Advisory Board comprised of influential members of the community who have a stake in the arts.
Waukegan has had a long-standing tradition in the arts. The Lake County Art League began in Waukegan and had its first show in the Karcher Hotel. This long vacant building is now being renovated into 36 affordable “live/work” spaces for artists and their families. An additional 2,400 square feet will be available on the ground floor for complementary small businesses and non-profit organizations. Artspace Waukegan will be accepting applications beginning August 27! Occupancy is scheduled for the end of this year. As in many other cities around the country, this $12.5 M project will help nurture an emerging arts community while bringing renewed vitality to downtown Waukegan.
The Waukegan Park District also has been at the forefront of the Waukegan arts movement for many years with its Cultural Arts Division. Theater, Symphony and Chorus, arts classes and exhibits are just a few of the opportunities offered by the park district. A $23 M renovation re-opened the historic Genesee Theatre in December 2004. A wide variety of performances have come to this beautifully restored theater, including comedians, the ballet and other dance groups, Broadway musicals, film festivals, and musicians of many musical genres. March 2011 saw the re-initiation of ArtWauk, a monthly event (third Saturday) that showcases the growing arts community in downtown Waukegan. Several new galleries and another professional theater, Clockwise, have sprouted in downtown Waukegan.
Mayor Robert Sabonjian called together a Steering Committee in the spring of 2010 to develop art-related strategies to promote economic growth in Waukegan and to make the city a better place to live, work and play. In the fall this committee recommended the formation of an independent, umbrella non-profit arts organization to be known as the Waukegan Arts Council. Working closely with local businesses, elected officials, artists and arts organizations the arts council’s mission is to be a catalyst for advancing the economic, social, and cultural life of Waukegan through the arts.
In September of this year, the Council will be unveiling a newly designed expanded website as part of its mission. The website will offer a community-wide calendar to cover the many art and cultural events happening each week in Waukegan. The calendar will list upcoming art exhibits, performances, tours, classes, workshops and arts lectures. The site will also list art venues, galleries, and arts organizations, resources and opportunities for the art lover and the artist, as well as an artist registry.
For an artist, membership in WAC provides some great low cost benefits. Each member artist will have his/her own artist registry page which includes the artist statement, resume, bio, list of services, and link to their website, contact information and photographs or other visuals of one’s work. Artists can be sorted by visual arts, literary arts, performing arts, and multi-disciplinary arts for additional reference. An artist membership is $25 each year. Member artists will also have opportunities for additional exposure. On the home page the website will feature six revolving banners highlighting various member organizations, exhibits, gallery offerings, etc. The home page SPOTLIGHT section will feature a selected member artist, venue, gallery, or other arts organization with an in-depth interview that will run continuously for a two month period.
The Waukegan Arts Council also plans to hold quarterly networking events, (the first is scheduled for October 2012) as well as quarterly educational seminars, free to members. Membership in the WAC helps to support all the above offerings.
Mary Clare Jakes and Carolyn Brode