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Kathleen McGrath

Centering the Arts in Batavia, Illinois

            The first Friday of every other month, several businesses in downtown Batavia, Illinois, stay open late to be part of a local art walk. All are welcome to attend this event where artworks are displayed in shops ranging from architect firms to hair salons. This artistic following is not new to Batavians, but dates back to the summer of 1960 when Philip Bader Elfstrom dedicated the storefront of his print shop to be a local gallery called The Frame until the building was destroyed in November of 1966.

            The loss of The Frame was a tragic setback for the advancement of centralizing the arts in Batavia. By taking some initiative and providing research related to strengthening the arts in Batavia’s downtown area once again, I believe that the community and local government would be supportive. This backing has proven to foster the success of other community art programming, including Batavia’s neighboring towns of Aurora, Geneva and Saint Charles. The goal of my thesis is to determine how and if an art center will benefit the community of Batavia.

            There are not any long-term plans for the future development of the arts in Batavia, but simply a collection of random ideas. The art events that do exist in Batavia’s downtown are organized by a small force of three women that created the Batavia Renaissance Project and a few others from a former group known as Batavia Main Street. Many residents and potential partners know little about these groups, let alone the events they sponsor. An art center has the potential to be a strong resource by providing not only services but also a presence.

            In the past, the idea of having an arts center in downtown Batavia has been mentioned. Through active research, I will produce a basic staffing structure that will lay the groundwork and provide a guide for creating an arts center. I will accomplish this by inquiring about community art centers in general, obtaining correspondence with select art centers across the nation, and conducting a community survey as well as engaging the community through focus groups.


            Kathleen McGrath received her B.S. in Hotel and Restaurant Management with an emphasis in Marketing and Art History from Northern Arizona University. She completed internships at the Portland Museum of Art in Maine, the Batavia Chamber of Commerce, and the Batavia Renaissance Project in Illinois. Currently, she is an Administrative Director at SAIC for the Printmedia and Photography programs.


Thesis Advisor: Michael Dorf Adjunct Professor, Arts Administration; Partner, Adducci, Dorf, Lehner, Mitchell & Blankenship, P.C.

Thesis Reader: Dean Eitel, Ph.D. Instructor, Arts Administration; Assistant Director, Public Services Graduate Program, DePaul University

Second Reader: Laura Vasilion Freelance Contributor, Chicago Tribune; Staff Writer, Dietary Manager Magazine


















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