Mayor Elizabeth Tisdahl

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At the State of the City/Awards for the Arts lunch on March  20, Mayor Elizabeth Tisdahl announced that Northwestern University will donate $1 million annually to the City of Evanston for the next five years, starting this year.

“My thanks to President Schapiro for the Good Neighbor policy and this wonderful investment in our community. Northwestern is one of the great universities in the country, which is a tremendous asset for Evanston,” said Mayor Tisdahl.

Under an agreement signed recently by Mayor Tisdahl and Northwestern President Morton Schapiro, each July for five years, Northwestern will donate $1 million to a Good Neighbor Fund, to be used for projects and services agreed to jointly by the Mayor and the Northwestern president.

 “We’re very pleased to make this donation to the City of Evanston. One of Northwestern’s greatest assets is its location in Evanston, so we look forward to providing additional support for the important work that the City does,” said President Schapiro.

Eligible projects and services will include capital projects supporting City infrastructure and facilities, specific support for existing City services and special projects.

Also at the lunch, the Evanston Arts Council honored The Merion and Allegro Dance Boutique with the 2014 Evanston Arts Council’s Leadership Award, an award given annually to an Evanston business that has been exceptionally supportive of the arts in Evanston, either financially or through in-kind services. Because there were a number of worthy nominees, the Evanston Arts Council decided to honor a small and large business for their efforts.

The Merion, formerly the North Shore Retirement Hotel, was honored for its 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 Margaret Gergen, general manager of the Merion. The Merion also regularly donates rehearsal and performance space, and hosts receptions for arts organizations and schools.

Allegro Dance Boutique was honored for its support of Evanston’s dance community by sponsoring productions, offering discounted merchandise to local dancers, and 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.