This Logan Square Church Could Become A Massive Circus Performance Center
By Jim Bochnowski in News on Aug 7, 2015 5:30PM
A local circus and aerial performance training center is looking to make Logan Square a national destination for circus performance by renovating the neighborhood's former First Evangelical Church into its new home.
Aloft was established in 2005 by Shayna Swanson to be a training ground for aspiring circus performers. From its humble beginnings in Humboldt Park, today the school offers 50 classes per week including a full-time training program for students who wish to pursue a career in circus performance. While Aloft eventually found a permanent home at 2000 W. Fulton St., the company's landlords terminated their lease earlier this year.
Coincidentally, in February, the 107-year-old First Evangelical Church in Logan Square went up for sale for $1.1 million. Aloft made an offer on the church, which was accepted, and the Church will now serve as their home.
Swanson has bold plans for the new site, writing on an IndieGoGo fundraising page that the old location in an industrial neighborhood prohibited them from offering classes to anyone under 18-years-old and putting on public circus performances. But, unfortunately, circus equipment is expensive and they need public assistance to turn the space into an appropriate new venue.
Aloft is looking for $100,000 to transform the church. $58,000 of that total will go toward renovating the building between floor leveling, ceiling removal and electrical rewiring. $35,000 will be dedicated to installing proper circus rigging. And since it's Chicago, an additional $7,000 is earmarked for hiring a lawyer to get the proper zoning permits to turn a church space into a full-fledged circus training academy.
As Swanson writes on the possible risks of the project:
"Sometimes, its more of a risk to not take one. To remain stagnant and complacent and not challenge yourself and not move upward. Sometimes staying too close to the ground is more dangerous than climbing. That's were Aloft is. We are at "grow or die". We've never been afraid to grow and we know that our community will catch us."