Legacy Continues at Raue Center

Twenty-five years ago, community leaders funneled $13.5 million into an aging theater in downtown Crystal Lake. The Raue Center for the Arts emerged with a mission to bring top artists to the stage.

“The Center was created by about 1,700 families and more than 20 companies in McHenry County who wanted cultural diversity and a place to learn about and explore the arts,” says Richard Kuranda, executive director.

Today, Raue Center continues to grow so it may be enjoyed for generations.

For starters, a recent $750,000 upgrade to the lighting and sound systems has made them completely digital, with tools that compare to the best theaters anywhere, Kuranda says.

The cafe inside is now larger and more conducive to traffic flow, particularly during intermission.

There’s also a wealth of programming that keeps Raue Center humming throughout the year.
Williams Street Repertory is a professional nonprofit theater company and is planning a post-pandemic launch this winter. Lucy’s Comedy hosts monthly comedy shows with local and national acts in an intimate environment. Raue Center School for the Arts offers classes and workshops for those ages 7-18, with plans to reach adults in the near future. Mission Imagination is an educational outreach program, and RaueNow is an annual membership program.

Since the building’s mortgage was paid off in 2018, Kuranda and the Raue Center board have made plans to ensure viability into the future. The latest endowment campaign is supported by a foundation that will match up to $20,000 in tax-deductible gifts.

Lucile Raue, who lived and worked her entire life in downtown Crystal Lake, left a generous estate gift to support the theater’s restoration. Her legacy lives on.

“We hope the community feels enriched by what we offer and will help us keep moving ahead,” says Kuranda. “Our mission has always been focused on bringing the arts to all people and making live entertainment available to everyone in the community.”

Raue Center for the Arts is located at 26 N. Williams St., Crystal Lake, (815) 356-9212.