DANK Haus Members Voting On Merger With German Day And Mayfest

By Mike Fourcher | Thursday, December 23, 2010

If DANK Haus members approve it, next year's German American Day and Mayfest could become part of a new German American Cultural Center. Photo Credit: Teresa Fourcher.

This week the 820 members of the DANK Haus are considering a joint venture with the German Day festival and Mayfest to create a new German American Cultural Center.

The new organization would provide $1,000,000 in new funding to improve the DANK Haus building, free up funds for new cultural programming by DANK Haus and more closely integrate the operations of Lincoln Square’s two largest annual events.

German Day and Mayfest, both non-profit organizations, have already approved the agreement. But DANK Haus members are asked to individually approve the measure.

“Our bylaws require something of this magnitude to go through our membership,” said DANK Haus Executive Director Nicholle Dombrowski. “We mailed a letter to everyone with the unsigned joint venture agreement. If membership approves this, our board will approve it.”

A copy of the proposed agreement is attached to the bottom of this article.

Most of the funding for German Day and Mayfest has traditionally gone to support smaller German-American organizations through out the city. However, both organizations have been saving funds over the years to promote German culture.

That money, says, Dombrowski, “was to go to a cultural center. So our thought was, why reinvent the wheel? Why not just bring that money here?”

If approved, DANK Haus, German Day and Mayfest would jointly create the German American Cultural Center with each organization controlling 50%, 33% and 17% respectively. German Day and Mayfest would then jointly contribute $1,000,000 to the new Cultural Center, which would then go to DANK Haus building improvements like a new electrical system and a planned façade upgrade.

“One of the main ideas of the million dollars going to the capital improvements, is that it will relieve our burden of money going to building upkeep so we can put it towards programming,” says Dombrowski.

But, Dombrowski is not sure yet how cultural events would change.

“We have not been able to do much [with our current budget]. We’ve been trying to develop dance and literary programs. We’ve had a few small dances, some orchestras have come over, those have done well and we’d like to have more of those. Our events committee does what they can, but they could definitely do more if the building [maintenance] money was freed up.”

DANK Haus has been a regular vendor in Mayfest and last year, despite a torrential rain storm and the co-scheduling with the Blackhawks’ victory rally, Mayfest added 12% to their operating budget. Because DANK Haus has been already working with the festivals, Dombrowski does not anticipate much change to the festival programming.

Yesterday was the deadline for members to postmark mailed ballots, but most have yet to arrive and Dombrowski is looking for three non-members to assist with counting ballots.

“We’re looking for a January 6 count and we should have the results announced on January 7,” says Dombrowki. “They are arriving sealed and we’re putting them in a locked ballot box. We’re trying to keep it as clean as possible. There has been some contention in the past, so we’re trying to keep it as above board as possible.”

People interested in counting the DANK Haus ballots should contact Nicholle Dombrowski at dank@dankhaus.com or at (773) 561-9181.

Proposed German American Cultural Center

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  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_4FCVPPF22W7QFU2XTIGX5MZMUU Spyro

    Great news. That building needs to be a landmark for the area and is beautiful nut needs restoration. Happy to hear this may happen soon. I am hoping they remove the Autozone and make it an open / park area for the Dank. Bravo!

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_4W5XPFOMQDUGH3OXJ5J2IFKG7U Amy

    Thumbs up! Sounds like a great plan for all three organizations. Kudos to Nicolle Dombrowski for negotiating and getting everyone on the same page!

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