North Shore Center Foundation

North Shore Center for the Performing Arts Foundation

The North Shore Center for the Performing Arts Foundation, a 501(c)3 organization, supports the activities of the North Shore Center for the Performing Arts in Skokie.  The Foundation actively seeks funding for the Center’s productions and presentations as well as its physical plant and capital upkeep requirements.  The Foundation appropriately stewards funds held for the benefit of the Center, while actively engaging the community for support on the Center’s behalf. Recognizing the cultural depth of the communities that the Center serves, the Foundation seeks to celebrate and highlight diversity in its presentations and operations.

Al Rigoni, Chair
Ann Tennes, Vice-Chair
John W. Haben, Secretary
Ross Mathée, Treasurer

Fred L. Drucker
Steve Franklin
Scott H. Gendell
Karen Gray-Keeler
Tori Jepsen
Robert Paddor
Glen Roter
Gina Speckman
Lynn Steffen
Paul S. Watford

Senator Howard W. Carroll- Emeritus

The Center’s 501(c)3 foundation experienced a rebirth over the past two years with ten new members joining the foundation board during that time. The reinvigoration of the Foundation has involved a renewed commitment to raise and provide funding for programming that reflects the community the Center serves.  The Foundation Board is comprised of civic and business leaders who reach out into the Chicagoland community seeking funding for capital improvements and programmatic excellence at the North Shore Center.


In 2016, the Center celebrated its 20th Anniversary with support from the Daniel F. and Ada L. Rice Foundation, Evanston Subaru in Skokie and the Foundation. A series of events was held to celebrate this milestone with the community.  Highlights include a free open house which welcomed guests of all ages for backstage theatre tours, and children’s activities including a Northlight Theatre masterclass, a dance workshop held by Kaleidoscope Dance and Movement Center and an instrument petting zoo hosted by Skokie Valley Symphony Orchestra.   On November 19, the Center held a Blues Camp that provided masterclasses for kids and adults throughout the day culminated in an evening concert led by Fernando Jones and his colleagues from the Blues Kids Foundation.

The Village of Skokie Public Arts Advisory Committee commemorated the 20th anniversary by funding their first indoor installation. The lighted sculpture Grace, Arabella and Davide by artist Michael Gard welcomes all guests in the lobby rotunda.


In 2017, the Center welcomed the United States Army Jazz Ambassadors Band featuring Chicago Jazz Orchestra for a free performance thanks to funding from Evanston Subaru in the Skokie.  The Foundation’s efforts to create access for under-served audiences and engage the community continue to focus on children and families.  Over 2,000 individuals attended a performance in this season for free or at a reduced price.

Dar He: The Story of Emmett TillIn 2015, through the leadership of the Foundation, and with the additional financial support of Mellody Hobson, the Center was able to present the Chicagoland premiere of Dar He: The Story of Emmett Till. This riveting play chronicles the murder, trial and unbelievable confession of the men accused of Till’s lynching. Dar He is an original one-man drama written by Mike Wiley, who also performs all 36 roles in the play with transcendent characterization and historical accuracy.  The discussion following portrayal of this watershed event in the Civil Rights Movement was elevated by the presence of family members of Emmett Till and other guests with personal connections to moments depicted in the show.

Dar He was presented as part of 2015 Coming Together in Skokie and Niles Township “Voices of Race.” Coming Together provides opportunities to explore a different culture each year through attending events, reading selected books, and participating in community discussions.   In 2016, Dar He returned to the Center with returning support from Mellody Hobson as well as The Chicago Community Trust and Evanston Subaru in Skokie.

The Center proudly continues its relationship with Mike Wiley and presents his work annually.


In 2014 the Foundation launched a campaign to raise funds to replace the Center’s aging orchestra shell.  Like all multipurpose performing arts facilities, the North Shore Center must serve the needs of different genres of performance, whether it is classical or contemporary music, dance or theatre, and each has different technical requirements. Classical music, which does not utilize an amplification system, requires a hard shell around the performers to force all sound out to the listening audience.  The previous shell at the North Shore Center was over 30 years old and rapidly deteriorating.

new shell

In November of 2015, the Senator Howard W. Carroll Orchestra Shell was installed and dedicated thanks to the generous support of the Centre East Metropolitan Exposition, Auditorium and Office Building Authority, Daniel F. and Ada L. Rice Foundation, Evanston Subaru in Skokie, Crown Family Philanthropies and Christopher B. Galvin Family Foundation.   The new orchestra shell not only improves the sound quality for acoustic performances but also compliments the architecture of the auditorium.


After twenty years of hosting world renowned talent, it became evident that the areas the artists use during their stay with us needed to reflect a higher level of comfort and convenience.  The rooms had remained unchanged since 1996 and demonstrated wear and tear.  In 2017, the Green Room and two Star Dressing Rooms were renovated with new tile work, fixtures, counters, appliances and furniture.  With support from the Daniel F. and Ada L. Rice Foundation, Evanston Subaru in Skokie and Lynn & Douglas Steffen, the rooms were overhauled and now provide artists with modern accommodations in an updated space.

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