Landlocked in its Crystal Lake home, Raue Center for the Arts wants to bring performing arts venue to East Dundee

Landlocked in its Crystal Lake home, Raue Center for the Arts wants to bring performing arts venue to East Dundee

The Raue Center for the Arts wants to work with East Dundee to create a performing arts center in downtown.

“We really love the idea of bringing the arts to all,” CEO Richard Kuranda said at the Village Board meeting Monday night. “So, we are here today to officially ask you to consider building and creating an arts center that we would collaborate with you on and hopefully serve.”

A new Raue Center would be “an economic draw to this wonderful town,” Kuranda said. The center, based in Crystal Lake, is excited about East Dundee’s town square and bringing comedians, concerts, plays and educational programs to the village, he said.

“We are really hoping this is just the starting point to imitate a dialogue,” he said.

The performing arts center, with about 250 to 350 seats, could be built on the former Doederlein Lumber Co. site.

East Dundee purchased the site a few months ago, Village Administrator Erika Storlie said.

“It presents an incredible opportunity for us to envision what could possibly go there. There are a lot of options,” she said.

A performing arts center is one idea, Storlie said.

“Let’s see what the different iterations there could be,” she said.

One possibility is creating a public-private partnership with a developer and the Raue Center to build and open a center. The village could provide tax increment financing district funds as an incentive for developers, Storlie said.

“The good thing is we have a space that, I think, is quite amazing for this purpose and could also support other income-generating operations so that everybody can be well positioned for success,” Storlie said.

Raue Center is landlocked in McHenry County. Leaders there have been looking at an additional property for about nine years. The idea would be to have a performing arts center that mirrors its current location, which draws about 3,000 artists every year, Kuranda said.

The nonprofit organization averages more than 150 performances per year.

Raue Center has over 1,000 members, which is at an all-time high, officials said. Membership increased steadily post-COVID pandemic, data showed. Raue officials estimate that 60% of active donors and audience members travel from outside the community to see shows. The center has been key in helping promote economic growth in downtown Crystal Lake, Kuranda said.

Monday’s discussion was the beginning of the Raue Center and the village exploring the idea of a new performing arts center. Kuranda said he expects the process would take a few years to complete.

“We heard about your guys’ interest in our town. I think everybody has been excited about it, Trustee Scott Kunze said. “We’re glad you are here and look forward to seeing what’s next.”

Gloria Casas is a freelancer.

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