Two Evanston businesses, The Merion and Allegro Dance Boutique, have been named the recipients of the 2014 Evanston Arts Council’s Leadership Award. The award is given annually to an Evanston business that has been exceptionally supportive of the arts in Evanston, either financially or through in-kind services. This year’s winners will be honored at the Mayor’s State of the City luncheon on Friday, March 20 at the Hilton Orrington, 1710 Orrington Avenue.
Due to a number of worthy nominees, the Evanston Arts Council decided to honor a small and large business for their efforts. This marks the first time that two businesses will receive the Leadership Award in one year.
The Merion, formerly the North Shore Retirement Hotel, has demonstrated strong commitment to the Evanston arts community in many ways, including hosting pre-concert programs for the Evanston Symphony Orchestra; sponsoring the ESO Musical Insights education program; and hosting Opera Idol, a competition for aspiring opera singers. The Merion also underwrites a scholarship for the winner of the Opera Idol competition.
“This award is icing on the cake, since our residents and the Evanston community all enjoy and are enriched from the programs we sponsor,” said General Manager of The Merion, Margaret Gergen. The Merion also regularly donates rehearsal and performance space, in addition to hosting receptions for arts organizations and schools.
Allegro Dance Boutique has supported Evanston’s dance community by sponsoring productions, offering discounted merchandise to local dancers, and by providing real job experience by hiring young dancers as apprentices. In addition, owner Victoria Lyman, a professional dancer, provides expertise as a board member of the Evanston Dance Ensemble.
As he did last year, award-winning Evanston artist Alfonso “Piloto” Nieves Ruiz, has designed and created the 2014 awards.
This marks the eighth year that the Evanston Arts Council has acknowledged local businesses for their support of the arts. Previous recipients include Whole Foods Downtown Evanston, Romano Wealth Management, Jim Nash of Farnsworth-Hill, Inc., First Bank & Trust, Hecky’s Barbeque, Autobarn Ltd. of Evanston and Koi Fine Asian Cuisine & Lounge.