Arts enthusiasts in DuPage County can listen to a lecture about Chinese jade pendants at the Lizzadro Museum of Lapidary Art, head over to the Bloomingdale Park District Museum for a photography show, and conclude the days watching the Buffalo Theatre Ensemble’s play the “Good People” at the McAninch Arts Center at College of DuPage.
Thanks to an anonymous donation, Arts DuPage, an initiative of the DuPage Foundation, recently launched as a “one-stop” online arts and culture resource and calendar for the public to find local and regional events.
The foundation has established a site at www.artsdupage.org.
“Back in 2011, we saw a need in the community to bring the arts together,” said Barbara Szczepaniak, DuPage Foundation vice president for programs. “There wasn’t any one entity bringing the arts together in DuPage County.”
Together with the College of DuPage, the DuPage Foundation south the views of local arts organizations.
“We kept hearing that the arts organizations wanted to work together and know what each other was doing,” Szczepaniak said. “They kept talking about a common calendar.”
Through focus groups, the organization found that some people were aware of the arts offerings in their hometown, but many were unaware that there was an art museum in Elmhurst or that the Chicago Symphony Orchestra was playing at Morton Arboretum or that Wheaton College had a conservatory.
“They had no idea that there were all these fabulous arts in their backyard,” Szczepaniak said. “They were going downtown to access art which can be expensive and time consuming to travel to. The arts here in DuPage is accessible, professional, and varied.”
With a three-year commitment from the anonymous donor, Arts DuPage had a soft opening in December.
The comprehensive website featuring arts, cultural events, and activities, as well as additional listings of classes and workshops, fundraisers, organizations, venues, and public art. Arts DuPage visitors can also purchase tickets and find events on specific dates and in specific towns.
But the organization hopes to become much more.
By offering professional development for artists in specific areas as well as general classes on marketing an arts organization and building a board, Szczepaniak said the organization also will be a “hub” for DuPage County artists to gather and network.
“The arts and culture of a community enriches the human spirit of a community and humanity, through artistic expression, social understanding, and arts education,” Diana Martinez, Director of the McAninch Arts Center said. “The arts also furthers the economic vitality of our county through tourism, jobs, vitality, and relevance,”
“I believe the arts is what brings us together as a community and having a platform like Arts DuPage to support, promote, and celebrate the arts and culture is a gift,” she added.
Wendee Goles, with Park Art Center, a Villa Park-based nonprofit art center that conducts classes as well as holds art exhibits, said Arts DuPage has been helpful to her organization with volunteers and sponsors.
“Besides working with local schools and placing ads in local papers, Arts DuPage was essential in connecting us to the arts community,” she said.
Photographer Robin Tryloff, member of the Arts DuPage Committee brings the perspective of a practicing photographer to the group.
“I am participating because I know that DuPage County has a flourishing arts community that merits heightened awareness and strong support.”