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2023 - Sharing the Limelight: ECC Arts Center celebrates 30 years

Tags: Arts Center
Published 12/04/2023
Dancers in ECC's in-residence ensemble BFH perform on the Blizzard Theatre stage

Dancers in ECC's in-residence ensemble BFH perform on the Blizzard Theatre stage

Jersey Boys. Second City. John Lithgow. Mavis Staples. Graham Nash. These are just a few artists to have graced the Blizzard Theatre stage since the Elgin Community College Arts Center opened 30 years ago.

The concept was to bring art to life for the region. Since then, the center has continued to fulfill that vision as a creative hub for the Fox Valley, offering distinctive performances in drama, music, comedy, culture, symphony, dance, and more.

The theatre showcases year-round performances and arts experiences, from national touring acts to international legends. “Since its beginning, the ECC Arts Center's mission has always been to include the community,” said Cindy Gaspardo, performing arts manager. “We are here for everyone.” To live that mission, the center has not only brought art to life with critically acclaimed acts but also features school-produced plays and musicals, on-campus art galleries, college ensembles, and music lessons.

The ECC Arts Center also built a vibrant arts community from within, serving as the home for in-residence ensembles, which are community organizations providing performance opportunities for all ages. “There are thousands of community members involved with the college and in-residence ensembles, utilizing the space and resources to succeed,” said Tommy Hensel, senior director of performing arts. “As a part of our arts family, these unique groups connect our campus to the community, and the community to our campus.”

“All our in-residence ensembles offer something unique,” said Hensel. “There is a place for everyone, from Mexican dance to children’s theatre to an 85-member adult choir — this variety makes the center a cultural hub that extends beyond campus borders.” ECC music faculty member Cynthia Hernandez is the current executive and artistic director for BFH, an ensemble celebrating 20 years in residence at ECC. “We have been very fortunate to be a part of the college,” said Hernandez. “The facilities are wonderful, and we have access to the various dance rooms, the theatre, and the ECC Arts Center as a whole. Our families feel welcomed and comfortable, and in return, we bring awareness to the college every time we go out to perform.”

Another unique opportunity provided by these ensembles is that participants over the age of 16 earn college credit. “Most colleges do not offer credit for participating in [groups like BFH],” said Hernandez. “We are so fortunate to have this partnership with ECC and hope it continues positively impacting future generations for a long time.”

As the ECC Arts Center embarks on its 30th anniversary, the college welcomes new and returning patrons to experience shows that don’t require a commute to downtown Chicago. Plus, every seat in the 662-seat proscenium-style Blizzard Theatre offers a great vantage point throughout the acoustically-pleasing house. Upcoming performances include The 12 Dames of Christmas starring Angela Ingersoll, Ensemble Español Spanish Dance Theatre, Chicago Tap Theatre, Bachelors of Broadway, and the ECC Jazz Ensemble.


Read the entire fall 2023 issue of Impact magazine online here.