U. of C. awarded $2 million grant to support forthcoming Green Line Arts Center

By TONIA HILL
Staff Writer

The University of Chicago (U. of C.) received a $2 million challenge grant to support the future Green Line Arts Center on the Arts Block in Washington Park.

The grant given to the university by the Efroymson Family Fund is intended to inspire other donors to match the $2 million donation.

Last year, U. of C. announced plans to develop a major arts and culture corridor along East Garfield Boulevard from South Prairie Avenue to South Martin Luther King Drive.

The arts and culture corridor will be a hub for individual artists and cultural organizations that represent under-resourced neighborhoods on the South Side and beyond. Additionally, the arts center will expand job readiness training and employment opportunities for local adults and youth.

The plan led by U. of C.’s Arts + Public Life initiative builds upon the university’s already existing Arts Incubator, 301 E. Garfield Boulevard, and Place Lab, Currency Exchange Café, 305 E. Garfield Boulevard and BING Reading Room, 307 E. Garfield Boulevard.

“The Green Line Art Center is an important next step in the University of Chicago’s culture-led community redevelopment efforts and the transformation of the Arts Block in Washington Park,” said Bill Brown, senior adviser to the provost for arts at U. of C., in a written statement. “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.”

Construction of the Arts Center is expected to begin in late summer 2017, and it will start with the renovation of 6,600 square feet of vacant storefronts located at 323-329 E. Garfield Boulevard, east of the Chicago Transit Authority (CTA) Green line tracks.

The Green Line Arts Center will include a black box theater, rehearsal space, green room, dressing room, and lobby space for gathering and exhibition.

The new space will also include spaces for cinema, theater, dance and music performances. The university will name a theater in the Green Line Arts Center in recognition of the Efroymson Family Fund’s donation.

The school is also planning to convert a vacant lot west of South Martin Luther King Drive into the Arts Block Lawn, a public green space and pavilion for the community to gather and enjoy free performances, workshops, and other activities.

“The Efroymson Family Fund has a history of investing in efforts that create opportunities for individuals and families to experience the arts. The Green Line Arts Center and Arts Block will be a unique arts destination for not only the university community but for the residents of Washington Park and beyond,” said Elissa Hamid Efroymson in a written statement. “We commend the University of Chicago for leading this project and its work to positively impact the city and the South Side of Chicago. We are excited to be involved in a project that will bring diverse groups of people together and create new opportunities for the arts, artists, and creative entrepreneurs. Our hope is that others will join us in supporting the Green Line Arts Center.”

Funding for the project is still ongoing.

t.hill@hpherald.com