A Portal to 2015

For eight years, we’ve promoted the arts and culture in central Illinois. Like everyone, we’ve been through some tough (and changing) times, yet the spirit of our Midwestern community continues to shine brightly. In recent years, we’ve seen the opening of the museum block, renovation of the Hotel Pere Marquette (and Marriott Courtyard addition), and the relocation and expansion of Running Central and the Waterhouse. Water Street is a lively place to be, with performances by the Peoria Municipal Band and others, while efforts to restore the Madison Theater continue.

The vision for Peoria’s Warehouse District, newly listed in the National Register of Historic Places, is finally coming to life! With the recent groundbreaking at the Rozelle-Sealtest building, Sugar, Dozer Park and the various artist studios in the area will soon have some new neighbors, including Thyme Kitchen and Craft Beer and Rhodell Brewery, which will move into the Murray Building in early 2015.

If you’ve traveled along Washington Street lately, you’ve probably seen Portal, the new sculpture from Bruce White, gifted to the city by Dr. George and Norma Kottemann through the Peoria Art Guild. Installed at the center of the roundabout at Washington and Harrison, it makes for a splendid transition between downtown and the Warehouse District. Next year, public art will receive another boost when the efforts of Sculpture Walk Peoria begin to take hold—more on that to come. And let’s not forget the tremendous growth of First Fridays and first-year success of IGNITE Peoria.

Take note of the many new events in our social scenes, including the “demolition party” for the Peoria PlayHouse, the inaugural 40 leaders Under Forty alumni event, the Peoria Symphony Orchestra’s Sunday in the Park with George, and the dedication of Morgan Elser’s Giving Tree sculpture at the Morton Community Foundation. That’s not to mention the return of perennial favorites, from Whitney’s Walk to the United Way campaign kickoff to the ever-popular Lobster Boil.

During the winter months, we have fantastic Broadway Theater shows at the Civic Center—in this issue, we take a peek behind the scenes at what goes into “teching” a show in Peoria. We also learn how the animals at Wildlife Prairie Park are cared for. Since returning to private ownership, the park has seen around $3 million in improvements… and did you know it’s open year-round?

There’s so much to celebrate—no need to leave the area, just bundle up and enjoy a holiday drink! a&s