North Shore Center for the Performing Arts 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

Dr. William Banzhaf
Fred L. Drucker
Scott H. Gendell
Karen Gray-Keeler
John W. Haben
Robert Paddor
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.


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.

The Foundation is currently raising funds to support community events that will be held in honor of the 20th Anniversary of the North Shore Center.


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 of 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.


A new capital campaign to renovate the green room and star dressing rooms is underway. The green room and star dressing rooms serving the Center Theatre are tired and deteriorated after 19 years of hard use. Counters are cracked, appliances are old, showers and lavatories are dated and have surfaces that are permanently stained or discolored.

The Center continues to attract world-renown performers to its stage and is in competition with many other venues in the Chicago area to secure this talent. It is an important goal of the Center to improve the areas that the artists use during their stay with us. The Green Room in particular, is also used for meet and greet opportunities for members of the public and friends of the performers.  As fundraising continues, the renovations are expected to be completed before the 20th anniversary of the Center in Fall of 2016.

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