October is the time for change at the Evanston Arts Council as new officers were elected Oct. 11 for the panel that disburses city arts funding.

Melissa Raman Molitor

The newly elected chair is Melissa Raman Molitor, an adjunct associate professor at the School of the Art Institute. She is a socially engaged mixed-media artist, educator and art therapist and founder of Kids Create Change, a nonprofit that encourages young people to explore identity, engage with community and address personal challenges and social issues through art and narrative.

Molitor is also a founding board member of Evanston Made, the founder of the Kitchen Table Stories Project and the 2021-2022 Curatorial Fellow at the Evanston Art Center, where she curated the Kitchen Table Stories exhibition of Asian, South Asian and Pacific Islander American art in July and August.

Krista Fabian DeCastro

The new vice chair is Krista Fabian DeCastro, a cultural manager with experience in artists’ professional development, grant-making, educational initiatives, curation, program development, international cultural exchange and event production.

She has been senior manager of artistic engagement at Creative Capital, a nonprofit supporting innovative and adventurous artists across the country, and international programming manager at the John F. Kennedy Center for Performing Arts in Washington. She is also a board member and former board chair of the Evanston In School Music Association.

“They will be great leaders of the team,” said Toby Sachs, the outgoing chair of the Arts Council.

David Chavannes

New member David Chavannes also was welcomed to the council. Chavannes sat on the review panel for the American Recovery Plan Act grants, awarded in July, and officials said his work was so good in that capacity that he was invited to join the council.

Chavannes is a Jamaican educator, performer and researcher. As an assistant professor at Northwestern University, he teaches in the department of Radio, Television, Film and Theater. His areas of expertise are Caribbean studies, music education, queer theory and sound cultures.

Membership on the Arts Council is limited to 12, but there is still one vacancy. Those interested in serving can apply by emailing the mayor’s office at dbiss@cityofevanston.org.

Arts Coordinator takes Crystal Lake post

Rosie Roche, the city’s new part-time cultural arts coordinator, stunned the Arts Council by submitting her resignation, announced at this meeting.

Roche said she will be using her “professional skills in nonprofit arts administration and academic training in historic house preservation by taking on the leadership of The Dole Mansion in Crystal Lake.” She added that she “will miss the vibrant arts scene in Evanston” and hopes investment in the arts “continues to grow, including ever more and diverse artists and stories.”

When queried by the RoundTable, Roche wrote in an email that there were ”15 hours [a week] only allowed for the most tedious tasks and they don’t need an arts person for that. If they want real art representation on the city staff, that needs to be at least one full-time position.”

Gay Riseborough is an artist, has served the City of Evanston for 11 years on arts committees, and is now an arts writer at the Evanston RoundTable.

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  1. Congratulations Melissa. Thank you for your dedication to all the children in our community. You have created safe spaces for children to grow and express themselves through the arts. I’m excited to see what is next as you become the chair of Evanston Art Council.