Hinsdale Center for the Arts closes its doors
Bruce George of Hinsdale, board president of the Hinsdale Center for the Arts, with his wife, Beth, at a gala for the center April 14 at the Hinsdale Golf Club. | James C. Svehla~for Sun-Times Media
Updated: July 31, 2012 2:19PM
HINSDALE — The Hinsdale Center for the Arts closed its doors Friday, center officials said.
“We stopped everything as of the end of last week,” said Jan Tuthill, secretary of the center’s Board of Trustees.
Staff members were at the center, in Katherine Legge Memorial Park, on Wednesday afternoon closing down operations.
Several classes that were scheduled to run this week already had been canceled due to lack of enrollment.
Tuthill said the board voted unanimously on July 18, after a meeting that lasted more than five hours, to cease operations as of July 20.
“The board had to make a brave decision,” Tuthill said, a decision that may appear sudden, “but it really was not.”
“We’ve been having financial woes for awhile. With the national (economic) problems, arts go to the bottom of the barrel,” she said.
“As a nonprofit, we rely on private funding, . . . corporate funding and grants. There have been individual sponsorships we have lost,” Tuthill said.
In its 2008 fiscal year, the center received more than $1 million in revenue for the first time. But the budget for this past fiscal year, which ended June 30, was “in the $700,000s,” Tuthill said.
“For years, we were recipients of funds from the village,” Tuthill said.
Several years ago, “the village cut back and then eliminated its support entirely. Our village is strapped for cash like everybody else.”
Enrollment in programs this summer was disappointing, she said. Tuthill recognizes that when people are tightening their budgets, signing up for art and theater classes is an expense they may choose to forego.
The organization had reexamined its vision and was hoping to launch Phase 1 of its new vision in the fall, “but we couldn’t stem the tide.”
Tuthill said she was not sure if everyone who signed up for a program has been notified of the center’s closing.
“Our first priority was to personally speak to all our life trustees,” Tuthill said.
Tuthill said she spent 17 hours on the telephone notifying life trustees and others involved in the center of the situation.
Nancy Hotchkiss, a founding member and life trustee of the center, said she received an email recently informing her of the financial difficulties the organization was facing.
“They are low on funds,” said Hotchkiss, who remains hopeful it can be saved, noting it is not the first time the center has faced such challenges.
“I’m really upset about it, quite frankly,” Hotchkiss said. “I spent a rather large part of my life getting it open in the first place.”
Tuthill said, at this point, the decision to close is final. However, she added she still harbors hopes there might be a renewed interest in investing in a cultural arts center.
Established in 1980, HCA has been serving the residents of DuPage and western Cook counties and has offered classes and workshops in dance, drawing, painting, sculpture, music and theater.
The mission of the Hinsdale Center for the Arts is to educate, encourage and facilitate participation in the arts, according to the organization’s Facebook site. Its website is listed as being under construction.
The center received the Governor’s Award for the Arts in 1999. The award recognizes nonprofit Illinois organizations for exceptional artistic achievement, outstanding programming, or other leadership initiatives that have stimulated excellence, growth and support and/or availability of the arts in Illinois.
In 1996, HCA was designated by the Illinois Arts Council as an Established Regional Arts Institution. The center was one of just 44 arts organizations in the state of Illinois to be awarded this honor.
The Doings published a special section in 2005 to mark the center’s 25th anniversary. In 2007, the center hosted an exhibit of photographs taken by The Doings photographers for a special section titled “A Day in the Life of Hinsdale.”
The center is located in Katherine Legge Memorial Park, at 5903 S. County Line Road, in Hinsdale.