By Brittany Wiley
BAPA Business Liaison
Beverly Arts Center (BAC), 2407 W. 111th St., has been a cornerstone of the Beverly/Morgan Park community since 1967. Since it’s inception, it has been providing the Chicago area with “high-quality programs in dance, visual arts, music, film and theater.”
The 40,000 square foot space is home to a 400-seat Baffes Theater, the Jack Simmerling Art Gallery, exhibition spaces, music and dance studios, art classrooms and event rental spaces including the courtyard and atrium. The BAC has utilized its space to build community around multi-discipline arts programming, education and entertainment.
The Beverly Arts Center, considered a non-essential business, has been financially impacted by Tier 3 pandemic mitigation, with overall revenue is down 75%. School of the Arts tuition revenue is down; ticket sales are non-existent due to cancellations.
As a result, the BAC has lost 18 teachers who switched careers. “People are leaving the arts because it is not sustainable as a career right now,” said Andrew Lindstad, BAC Director of Development and Marketing.
In an effort to continue to engage the community, BAC is offering virtual classes. Some classes have been successful but overall attendance has been low. The School of the Arts winter session starts the week of Jan. 5, with a wide variety of online classes in visual and performing arts; find the class schedule and registration at beverlyartcenter.org. The BAC will follow all local, state, and CDC guidelines; if winter session in-person classes not allowed, they will offer a virtual option until on-site classes cans afely resume.
In order to continue serving the community at the level they want to when they can resume in-person classes and events, the BAC needs memberships and donations. Their memberships start as low as $35 per year for seniors; the BAC is a not-for-profit organization.
Despite the inability to operate normally, the BAC hosted impactful events last year and have more coming in 2021.
Lindstad said the BAC always asks, “What can art do beyond entertaining?” One answer is to create a conversation. And they did that in October when they hosted a virtual reading of “Front Porch Society” by playwright and Beverly/Morgan Park native Melda Beaty.
The play follows protagonist Carrie Honey, an African American woman grieving the death of her son at the hands of police. After each scene, a facilitated discussion was able to “spark dialogue and help people find common ground,” Lindstad said. “One of our missions is to be a place where people can come together and experience art but also a safe place to have this conversation.”
BAC will host “Elements of the Imagination,” an exhibit of sculptural costumes and paintings by Beverly/Morgan Park artist Sandra Leonard, Jan. 15 to Feb. 20 in the Simmerling Gallery. The exhibit opens with an artist reception Fri., Jan. 15, 6 to 8 p.m. For Black History Month, Chicago native Hana L. Anderson present a staged reading of “Being Sincere,” a coming-of-age story about a middle-aged man who lives with his terminally ill grandmother. The reading is Sat., Feb. 27, 7:30 p.m. in the studio theater and seating is limited.
The BAC depends on and is grateful for community support. Our neighbors are lucky to have a recognized fine arts facility so close to home. Let’s continue to support this institution and keep it thriving for future generations!
To buy tickets, become a BAC member, register for classes or learn more about our community art center visit beverlyartscenter.org.