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Northern Illinois Projects Get State Tourism Boost

Jenna Dooley
Egyptian Theatre DeKalb

The Illinois Department of Commerce & Economic Opportunity (DCEO), Office of Tourism, announced several grants designed to increase tourism across the state.  According to a news release, the grants haven’t been awarded since 2015. The office says they will help bolster the state’s tourism industry which generated over $3 billion in tax revenue for state and local communities last year.

Among the recipients:

The Farnsworth House: $10,360

The Farnsworth House will use the grant to develop and support new programming enabling its participation in the Bauhaus100 Centennial - an international celebration of the ongoing legacy of the influential German design and architecture school.  Programming will include new exhibitions and related public events, appealing to a wide audience, attracting more visitors and increasing tourist traffic in the Yorkville region.

Rockford Area Convention & Visitors Bureau: $91,800

Credit Jenna Dooley
Mural from Rockford CRE8IV festival (2019)

CRE8IV: transformational ART, is a new mural festival, May 15-19, at various locations in downtown Rockford. CRE8IV (pronounced “Creative”) is a community-building, arts-infused event. Over the course of the festival, eight lead artists will work with teams of artists to create eight large-scale murals in Rockford’s central city. Each day the festival includes a free-to-attend Block pARTy at one of the mural locations.

Laurent House Foundation: $250,000 ($125,000 FY19 & $125,000 FY20)

Credit Susan Stephens
Laurent House - Rockford

Laurent House is the only Frank Lloyd Wright designed home for a disabled client. Due to the nature of the historic home museum, it cannot serve as a Visitor Center, which limits the museums ability to expand and grow.  This grant will allow the Foundation to purchase the adjacent residential home and surrounding 1.3 acres to build a Visitors Center and offer bus and visitor parking. The additional space will also accommodate offices, a tour staging area, gift shop, archival storage, library, accessible bathrooms and meeting area.

Preservation of Egyptian Theatre, Inc.: $200,000

A two-story building addition with restroom and concession improvements will enhance the visitor experience at the historic Egyptian Theater in DeKalb.  Most importantly, installation of air conditioning will allow the theatre to remain open year-round with programming, and for the first time have a substantial positive economic and cultural impact on the community (prior to this HVAC improvement, the theatre closed during the summer months).

City of Aurora: $43,131

The City of Aurora is making RiverEdge Park concert/festival site more accessible to those with special needs including ADA-certified accessible golf cars to transport people with disabilities from the parking area to the venue. The park hosts concerts, festivals, July 4th celebrations, and marathons along the river. Approximately 900 people require ADA assistance while attending summer events at RiverEdge Park.

Timber Lake Playhouse: $95,755.58

Timber Lake Playhouse will winterize its theatre to extend its theatre production season from May into December.  This project will increase visitation and tourism expenditures by adding additional production weeks.