An agreement to merge DANK Haus, 4730 N. Western Ave, with the German Day festival and Mayfest to create a new German American Cultural Center has stalled because German Day and Mayfest leaders have failed to sign the necessary paperwork, according to DANK Haus Executive Director, Nicholle Dombrowski.
“We have no idea [why]. We just had our quarterly membership meeting and the answer is honestly, we have zero information from the other organizations as to why they haven’t signed it,” said Dombrowski.
The agreement, first reported by Center Square Journal last December, would provide $1 million 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.
“For the next board meeting, it was recommended by membership that we set a deadline,” where the merger, “would no longer be valid,” said Dombrowski. “We’ll have to see what comes out of that.”
Despite the stalled agreement, DANK Haus is continuing to grow their organization this week by hiring their first Development Director, Amelia Cotter. Cotter was the former DANK National Office Manager, which is also housed in the same building as DANK Haus, the Chicago Chapter of DANK National. Chicago has the largest DANK chapter.
“Staff growth is huge and we have to bite the bullet,” said Dombrowski. “Our overarching 5-year plan is to invest in staff because we can do so much more.
“A development director is a huge step for us. We are weak in marketing, things like that. We want to build our capacity to continue to do things. If nobody is there to raise funds and organize volunteers it’s not going happen,” said Dombrowski.
The Deutsch Amerikanischer National Kongress was originally founded by German-American immigrants as a political party, says Dombrowski, but Germans quickly integrated into American society, so DANK became more of a social organization, despite its political name.