$2.5 million kicks off Paramount’s Act2 campaign to launch series of projects in downtown Aurora...

Aurora’s Paramount Theatre announced it has been awarded its largest grant ever – a $2.5 million donation from the Dunham Fund. The Dunham Fund’s lead grant toward the $4.5 million goal of the Act 2 Capital Campaign will support three major areas of expansion and improvement: ⦁ Creation of the new Paramount School of Performing Arts in downtown Aurora in the new John C. Dunham Aurora Arts Center, currently under construction at the intersection of Galena Boulevard and Stolp Avenue, directly adjacent to the Paramount. Slated to open in January 2019, the Paramount School of Performing Arts will encourage and train young actors, dancers and musicians for a culture-filled life, nurture the arts in Chicago’s western suburbs and add to the excitement, cultural and economic activity in Aurora’s downtown business district. ⦁ The replacement of every Paramount Theatre seat through a dollar-for-dollar matching grant. All 1,888 original seats have served more than eight million visitors since the Paramount Theatre opened in 1931. Already through this important campaign, Paramount patrons have donated funds for the replacement of more than 400 seats. Installation of the seats will begin this summer, and audiences can look forward to all new, larger and more comfortable seats thanks to the Dunham Fund’s matching grant. ⦁ Modernization of the Paramount’s 173-seat sister stage, the Copley Theatre, located in North Island Center directly across the street from the Paramount. Act 2 Capital Campaign funds will support much-needed upgrades and improvements in the Copley, built in 1981, including replacement of carpeting and seats, updating technical equipment, expanded restrooms, new heating and air conditioning systems and remodeled backstage and dressing areas. These improvements will boost cultural and economic activity even further in downtown Aurora, making the space suitable for smaller shows, as well as...

First Fridays hosts gallery night featuring downtown photography, all-woman art show on Feb. 2...

  First Fridays is a monthly offering of arts and culture in downtown Aurora. Visit participating venues and explore downtown on the first Friday of the month. First Fridays is art, music and more! Free trolley rides from 6 to 10 p.m. Join us for FIRST FRIDAYS * GALLERY NIGHT on Feb. 2. See you at First Fridays! Pick up a map at any venue. A R T 1 If These Walls Could Talk, 32 S. Stolp Ave. “Essence: Amanda Meyer” Conceptual Photography from artist Amanda Meyer* 7 to 10 p.m. 2 Aurora Regional Fire Museum, 53 N. Broadway Images of the Aurora Fire Department: Photographs by Jim DeSomer Pop Up Shops 5 to 8 p.m. 3 The ArtBar @ Two Brothers Roundhouse Euphoria Show^ Josh Schultz^ 6 to midnight 4 Fox Art Studio, 9 S. Stolp Ave. Jim Zimmer: Recent Collage Work* Dada Soul Face* 6 to 9 p.m. 5 Aurora Public Art Commission, 20 E. Downer Pl. NEVERTHELESS: Women Depicting Women* 6 to 8 p.m. 6 Gallery 1904, 1 E. Benton St. Identity/PEOPLE^ 6:30 to 9:30 p.m. 7 Metropolitan Coworking, 14 W. Downer Ste. 16 Documenting Downtown: A Photo Show* East Aurora Jazz Ensemble 6 to 9 p.m. 8 Santori Public Library, 101 S. River St. Storytelling: Hmong American Voices* 5:30 to 8:30 p.m. 9 The Web, 134 W. Downer Pl. Josue Paiz^ 6 p.m. to 1 a.m. *Opening night ^One night only M U S I C 10 Endiro Coffee, 29 W. New York St. Live music: Olivia Ports Art by Marisa Muro 6 to 9 p.m. 11 River’s Edge Cafe, 14 W. Downer Blvd. Ste. 18 Ben & Jecelyn Shankin Open until 9 p.m. 12 Gremlen Recording Studios, 130 W. Downer Pl. Karaoke and Open House 6 to 9 p.m....

Who’s downtown? This week: Elizabeth Sturm...

Meet the people who make downtown tick. Learn who works in some of our architectural treasures, discover who keeps downtown looking beautiful, and see who you might pass on the street when you’re in the neighborhood. Join us in learning about those who are downtown Aurora. Who’s Downtown Q&A with Elizabeth Sturm Q: What are you involved with in downtown? A: I am vice president of the Aurora Regional Fire Museum (ARFM) board of directors. In addition to serving on the board, I also help with exhibits, educational programs, and the Harry Potter Festival. I also help my daughter with Aurora, IL Rocks. We paint positive and/or funny messages and pictures on rocks and leave them in downtown public areas to spread positivity. We recently had a painting night downtown and had approximately 40 people attend. I can’t wait to place all of the rocks around that were painted that night. Q: What’s your day job?  A: I am an Assistant Professor of Special Education at Lewis University in Romeoville. I have the privilege of teaching future teachers! Q: How did you get involved downtown? A: I moved to Aurora about four years ago. When visiting the museum, I became involved at the urging of the former curator, David Lewis. He then made it his mission to introduce my husband and me around and helped us to fall in love with our new hometown. Q: What is your background? A: My background is in gemology and teaching, but I also had a lot of former experience in theatrical design. Q: What keeps you active in downtown? A: The energy generated by so many people working to improve Aurora. I love that so much happens at the grassroots level and how passionate people are about making Aurora a...

First rooftop solar system in downtown Aurora generates renewable energy, other benefits...

Local collaborators are celebrating the power of the sun in the “City of Lights” with the completion of a state-of-the-art solar energy generation project in downtown Aurora. In December, a new 56.7 kilowatt (kW) solar power system was installed on the rooftop of the 113-year-old Carnegie library building at 1 E. Benton St., the former home of Aurora’s Main Public Library and now home to Support Techs. This renewable energy system is the first of its kind in Aurora’s historic downtown business district on Stolp Island.After acquiring the former Aurora Public Library building in December 2015, owners of The Support Companies researched ways to reduce operating costs while “going green.” This solar solution was selected to reduce CO2 emissions, reduce dependency on utility companies, and reduce costs over the long term. The new solar photovoltaic (PV) system is projected to reduce 58.72 tons of carbon emissions per year by generating 71,615 kilowatt-hours (kWh) of electricity in 2018.  The entire project took less than two months to complete. Michelle Knox, owner of WindSolarUSA designed the rooftop system to feature American-made products. Installation teams from local solar professionals at Rethink Electric in Geneva completed the project ahead of schedule.“The city of Aurora’s Building and Permits department was instrumental in making this project a reality. Their advice and efficient processes helped us meet our tight December deadline,” Knox said. “This was a collaborative effort,” she added.Economic advantages of the rooftop system include positive cash flow of $98,285 generated over the life of the system, a 30% federal tax credit, State of Illinois Renewable Energy Credits, and the Modified Accelerated Cost Recovery System (MACRS). Solar project developers like WindSolarUSA are responsible for understanding current incentives and educating owners throughout the design and installation process. American-made products chosen for the...

Who’s downtown? This week: Dan Barreiro...

Meet the people who make downtown tick. Learn who works in some of our architectural treasures, discover who keeps downtown looking beautiful, and see who you might pass on the street when you’re in the neighborhood. Join us in learning about those who are downtown Aurora. Who’s Downtown Q&A with Dan Barreiro Q: What is your title? A: Chief Community Services Officer, City of Aurora   Q: How do you spend your day in that role? A:  As the Chief Community Services Officer, I have day-to-day oversight of the Community Services Division with a budget of 6.5 million. My team includes Customer Service, Special Events, Neighborhood Redevelopment, Public Art, and Youth and Senior Services. Our division is small (10 full-time and nine part-time), but we have a large impact on the community.  I have the opportunity to help the community in a wide range of areas.  I spend some of my time on administrative tasks but most of my time is spent working with community organizations on partnership initiatives. For example, we will be planning a Mass Care Shelter Drill in 2018, and we will need partners to test our capacity. I am a behind-the-scenes person, but I have a hand in many initiatives supporting my staff as needed. On occasion, I wear different hats due to staff turnover. During those times, I have been more hands on and I appreciate my staff even more.        Q: How long have you worked for the city? A: I have been in this position since 2006 and with the city since 1988.     Q: What is your background? A:   I received a Bachelor’s Degree in Political Science (Local Government) and a Master’s Degree in Public Administration from NIU.  My career at the city includes working...