CRYSTAL LAKE – The Raue Center for the Arts was traveling down a dark financial path when an anonymous donor stepped up in November to pay $2.3 million in outstanding debt.
At the time, Raue Center officials were asking volunteers for their support as they prepared to approach the city of Crystal Lake to ask for an increase in annual funding.
Things seem to be looking up for the nonprofit now, after a new long-term lease agreement and the retirement of debt.
The debt and ongoing maintenance on the historic, 90-year-old building was financially prohibitive, the center said in a news release.
“The donation of $2.3 million is an endorsement of the arts,” Raue Center CEO Richard Kuranda said. “People of this community value the arts and professional theater.”
The outstanding debt remained from an extensive $8.8 million renovation of the Raue Center completed in 2002. Raue officials said the debt was exacerbated by the ongoing maintenance of the building after flooding last year.
Under terms of a new agreement announced last week between the Raue Center, the Crystal Lake Civic Center Authority and Home State Bank, the bank will lease the building from the civic center authority. The bank then will sublease the building at 26 N. Williams St. to the Raue Center, and it will pay for any maintenance of the building.
The Raue Center previously leased the building directly from the civic authority and often asked the city of Crystal Lake for funding of additional maintenance and capital improvements. The city contributes $151,000 annually to the center, with parties agreeing that the Raue surpasses that in the tax dollars it brings back to the city from its shows and events.
Home State Bank is the Raue Center’s longest-standing sponsor.
“We are incredibly grateful to Home State Bank for providing for the building and ensuring that the arts have a home for the next 50 to 100 years,” Raue Center board President Tim Paul said.
Kuranda said this new beginning allows the Raue Center to focus on its mission – growing the arts.
“When we needed building work, we felt bad going to the city,” Kuranda said. “We don’t want to be a burden on taxpayers. Getting rid of the debt allows us to focus on programming.”
The civic center authority will continue meeting periodically, and it could work with the Raue Center to seek state and federal grants, Kuranda said.