BackStage Evanston, the festival that showcases Evanston’s performing arts groups, has become an annual event. At the inaugural showcase in 2010, 14 local music, theatre and dance groups performed to standing-room-only crowds. This year, 17 groups will perform from 3:30 to 7:00 p.m. on Sunday, September 18. The event is returning to the Northwestern University campus, but in a much larger venue: the Ethel M. Barber Theater.

Presented by the Arts & Business Committee of the Evanston Arts Council and the City of Evanston, BackStage Evanston is a one-stop-shop for anyone interested in music, theatre and dance. Each participating organization will present a five-minute performance and offer discounted tickets to their new season’s performances. These discounts will be offered only that day at BackStage Evanston.

Participating groups are Actors Gymnasium, the Chicago Philharmonic Orchestra, Evanston Dance Ensemble, Evanston Symphony Orchestra, Fleetwood-Jourdain Theatre, The Lakeside Singers, Light Opera Works, Music Institute of Chicago, The Musical Offering, Next Theatre, North Shore Choral Society, Northwestern University Theatre Department, Piccolo Theatre, Piven Theatre Workshopthe Renovo String Orchestra, the Savoyaires, and Theatre Zarko.

The $20 entrance voucher is redeemable for a special offer of equal value from any participating organization. Thus, the event is actually free of charge. The Ethel M. Barber Theater is located at 30 Arts Circle Drive on the Northwestern University campus. Free parking is available in the two-story lot on Arts Circle Drive. Advance tickets may be purchased at www.BackStageEvanston.com or by phone at 847-448-8260.

Evanston businesses stepping up as sponsors of “BackStage” include First Bank & Trust, Northwestern University, Downtown Evanston, Evanston RoundTable, Dance Center Evanston, Evanston Host, Hagerty Consulting, Hilton Orrington, Romano Brothers & Co., and Jill Brazel Photography. Whole Foods Market Evanston North is donating all food and beverages for the event. The Theatre & Interpretation Center at Northwestern University is donating the venue.

New this year! Backstage Evanston will be partnering with Downtown Evanston to create an entire weekend of music, dance and theatre. On Saturday, September 17, Downtown Evanston will host Center Stage, a musical block party for all ages. Information about Center Stage is available at www.downtownevanston.org or at 847-866-6319.