Noyes Cultural Arts Center
  • City of Evanston
  • For Rent: Noyes Cultural Arts Center theater

It shouldn’t have been a surprise to learn last month that Next Theatre Company was canceling its season and going out of business.

Not after the revelation last summer that Next owed the city of Evanston more than $76,000 and hadn’t paid its rent for two years.

And not after no one from Next stepped up to speak on its behalf when the city council decided in July to give the company one final season in its home of more than 30 years, the Noyes Cultural Arts Center, and then boot it.

And certainly not after Next board chair Robert Andalman said the board knew nothing until last spring about the delinquent rent.

But still, it was disconcerting to hear that the feisty company, which had struggled over the last five years or so, would not be refunding money to about 450 loyal souls who purchased season tickets this year. To its credit, Next did work out exchanges: patrons who paid for a three-show subscription can trade it for a free three-play pass from either Northlight Theatre or Victory Gardensget free three-play passes from Northlight Theatre and Victory Gardens. Complimentary tickets are also available at Redtwist and Remy Bumppo.

Now Evanston is looking for theater groups interested in leasing the 150-seat Noyes Street theater for the remainder of this season, from February 1 through May 31, 2015. (Mudlark Theater Company, which had a sublease with Next, has a holiday show there this month.)

They’re in a hurry, which might mean it’ll be a bargain: the city issued a request for letters of intent this week, and will host a walk-through and information session the morning of December 12. Applications are due December 31, with a decision expected by January 9. Check the city website for details.

They’re also seeking a longer term tenant, for a multiyear lease that’ll start September 1.

And city manager Wally Bobkiewicz says Evanston will attempt to recover the money that Next owes it.

This post was edited to reflect the correct deal for ticket holders.