A small group of arts supporters believe Elmhurst is ready for a new performing arts center and are working to raise awareness and money for the project, including commissioning a study to identify community needs.

The Elmhurst Centre for Performing Arts was established in April as a 501(c)3 not-for-profit organization with a four-member board to explore the demand and the financial feasibility of putting up a multistory building to house space for live performances, associated activities and community gatherings.

At an information meeting Wednesday that drew more than a dozen people, board chairman and architect Jeff Budgell, who heads Architects’ Studio in town, acknowledged that the nascent organization is working to answer a number of questions, including how big the new building should be and how to pay for it.

As part of its fundraising effort, the new group hopes to draw 200 or more people to a gala at the Elmhurst Art Museum on Oct. 14. The party will include a headline performer along with local talent, according to Laura Michaud, treasurer of the new group.

Budgell said an informal survey of existing arts groups in town has answered one question about the new center — where it should be located.

“It was unanimous,” said Budgell, who is also president of the Elmhurst City Centre organization. “The groups want to be in the center of town.”

That still leaves open decisions on the number of seats in the main theater, financing and an exact location for a new building. Budgell, whose office has prepared renderings and drawings of the space, said the footprint of the proposed building could be smaller than the Plass Building, recently demolished at York and Schiller streets. He suggests 77 to 180 feet deep, and about 44 feet tall.

Elmhurst Centre for the Performing Arts treasurer Laura Michaud discusses a proposed center at an information meeting Aug. 10. (Graydon Megan / Pioneer Press)
“It’s designed to be a compact building that has a lot going on in it,” he said.

Michaud, who is a co-founder of Stage 773, a performance complex in the Belmont Theater District of Chicago, said many of the questions about the new center will be answered by the feasibility and financial impact study to be completed on a pro bono basis by the Arts & Business Council of Chicago. Michaud said consultants are being lined up for the study, which is expected to take about four months to complete.

Michaud and Budgell compared the proposed new space to the Metropolis Performing Arts Centre in Arlington Heights, a facility they said has brought millions of dollars of revenue to that town.

Both said Elmhurst officials have been receptive to the idea of the new center, although there has been no city commitment for participation in the project. Michaud said Metropolis gets some support from a small portion of the village’s food and beverage tax.

More information is available on the group’s website, ecpa-elmhurst.org/

Graydon Megan is a freelance reporter for Pioneer Press.

Original post :http://www.chicagotribune.com/suburbs/elmhurst/news/ct-elh-performing-arts-center-tl-0818-20160811-story.html