New performing arts center coming to Austin

Music and the arts may not come to mind when you think of Chicago’s west side.

But in a neighborhood with a bad rep for crime, there's a new plan to change the focus, by building a performing arts center in Austin. The hope is to replace violence with violins.

“When people value their lives, they value their community. It reduces crime,” said Saudia Davis.

Davis found potential hidden in a building at Washington and Central that’s home to a church, ministry and a charter school called Catalyst Circle Rock. There's also a big unused auditorium.

Now, all three groups and more are celebrating getting to use it when it's transformed into the “Center for the Arts."

“This is a safe place, this is a place we can begin to have different programs for our kids in this community. Let me tell you, they've been waiting over 40 years for this to happen,” said Pastor Robert L. Stevenson.

The auditorium hasn't been used since 1973. Now, the plan is to have 1000 seats for a variety of events.

“I don't know of anything else that serves as a performing arts school, a theater of performing arts for the community and a church on Sunday, so it's faith education and transformation. Can't ask for more on the west side,” Davis said.

Catalyst's Sistema Ravinia Orchestra will use the space -- a major step up for what's now the largest African American elementary school orchestra in the country.

“It's just wonderful to have this opportunity for all of these children who would not have it if not for this center being here,” said Congressman Danny Davis.

The “Center for the Arts” is expected to be finished late this year.

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