History

History

The Noyes Cultural Arts Center (NCAC) is a unique model of a community’s commitment to art as a vital social, historical and economic component of the rich fabric called a community.

Designed as an elementary school by renowned architect Daniel Burnham in 1892 and expanded under the direction of Lawrence Perkins in 1949, the NCAC exemplifies Evanston’s unique architectural heritage and has been awarded landmark status.

The NCAC supports the creation and presentation of work by artists who strive for excellence and innovation in their work and are committed to reaching the diverse audiences of Evanston, the North Shore and metropolitan Chicago. It offers subsidized work space in the form of studios, office and rehearsal space and a 190 seat theatre to individual artists, performance groups and arts organizations.

In 1980, the City of Evanston and a galvanized community set forth a matching campaign to refurbish the aging school as a community arts center, and in doing so, created a national role model for innovative structural recycling. The result is 28 individual artists and arts organizations that daily bring to the NCAC the spirit of creative excellence and artistic exploration. Resident artists are carefully selected by a review panel to ensure a mix of disciplines and must meet critical standards of artistic excellence as well as prove commitment to the NCAC community of artists and the community of Evanston. In exchange for below-market rental rates, each resident artist participates in community service, a vehicle by which community members gain access to high-quality arts programming.

The NCAC has gained national attention for its innovative approach to bringing first-rate arts programming to a community and has played a pivotal role in Evanston becoming the “city of the arts.” More importantly, however, the NCAC is a leader in making art a vital component of the fabric of daily life for all Evanstonians.