Elgin is welcoming people back to the newly renovated Civic Center Plaza with a family-friendly celebration of the arts.
“Welcome back, Elgin!” is scheduled to take place at 1:30 p.m. Sunday, Aug. 22, with a free concert at the Hemmens Cultural Center featuring internationally acclaimed violinist Rachel Barton Pine at 3 p.m.
The event was originally conceived last September as a free concert to welcome the community back to a bit of normalcy after the pandemic and the civil unrest in the wake of the murder of George Floyd, said Mark Seigle of the Seigle Foundation. The foundation is underwriting the concert.
“We wanted to have some sort of celebration as things were getting back more to the way we remember,” Seigle said. “Unfortunately, we’ve had a bit of a setback with the delta variant.”
Seigle said safety measures have been put in place, including limiting the number of seats available to about half capacity in the Hemmens, with masks required indoors.
Seigle worked with Chamber Music on the Fox to plan the concert and then teamed up with Amanda Harris and the Elgin Cultural Arts Commission to coordinate the whole event.
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“We wanted it be really be about coming back and enjoying live art again,” Harris said. She took the concert idea and paired it with the fact that construction on the plaza would be finishing up at about the same time.
“It just sort of spiraled from there,” she said. “We thought, why not bring as much art as we can and make it a free and accessible open celebration for the community?”
Harris said a lot of details are pending, but the celebration will feature local artists and arts organizations, dancers, theater, the Side Street Art Mobil, a progressive chalk mural, roving balloon and bubble artists and food trucks.
“It’s unbelievable what she and her team have come up with,” Seigle said.
The concert will be audio-streamed over speakers in the plaza for people who either can’t get tickets or aren’t comfortable going inside.
The concert, while free, is a ticketed event. Information is available at hemmens.org/tickets.
The event will be a soft reopening for the plaza, which has been undergoing renovation since March 2020. The $2.05 million project included new concrete walkways, improved drainage, new raised planting beds, site lighting, accent lighting, landscape irrigation and renovated public art. A spokesperson for the city said there might be a formal reopening ceremony at another time.