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Northern Public Radio, symphony find new space

Published: Thursday, Aug. 21, 2014 5:30 a.m. CDT

Northern Public Radio and the Rockford Symphony Orchestra opened a new collaborative space partnership in their current Riverfront Museum Park location at 711 N. Main St. in Rockford.

An open house to showcase the new space is scheduled from 3 to 6 p.m. Sept. 17.

“The mission of Northern Public Radio is to enrich, inspire and inform adults in northern Illinois through programs and services that share ideas, encourage thought, give pleasure and create community,” Staci Hoste, general manager of Northern Public Radio, said in a news release.

“Rockford Symphony Orchestra’s mission is to create vibrant music experiences that enlighten, educate and entertain. Physically aligning space will allow us to build a stronger relationship and is advantageous to everyone by seamlessly aligning the missions of both nonprofit organizations.”

“This change will allow the Rockford Symphony Orchestra to better serve audiences and provide an inviting space for patrons and volunteers,” Julie Thomas, executive director of the Rockford Symphony Orchestra, said in the release.

Northern Public Radio provides programs and services to listeners throughout northern Illinois and southern Wisconsin including 89.5 WNIJ, a National Public Radio member station that provides news, talk, variety and classical music programming; 90.5 WNIU, an all-classical music station; and NIRIS, a unique broadcast service which provides current print information to blind and print-impaired citizens.

The Rockford Symphony Orchestra performs more than 16 classical and pops concerts annually and provides educational programs throughout the Rockford area.

The organizations collaborate annually around the Rockford Symphony Classics Series Concerts. Each year, WNIU previews the season with RSO conductor Steven Larsen and broadcasts all concerts on 90.5 WNIU.

There will be modest cost savings, but economic considerations, though important to both organizations, were not the driving force behind the shared-space partnership.

“People who attend the symphony also listen to public radio,” Thomas said in the release. “The Rockford Symphony Orchestra and Northern Public Radio have a shared commitment to growing our listenership and audience base. We recognized that there was an opportunity to increase awareness, create better visibility for the box office, and expand educational and outreach activities through this project.”

Cyndie Howard, facility manager of the Riverfront Museum Park, said the Discovery Center Museum will occupy the space vacated by the symphony.

The Riverfront Museum Park is part of the Rockford Park District. It was designed as a unified space in which arts and science organizations could focus on their core missions and outreach programs. It opened to the public in 1991.

It is currently home to the Rockford Symphony Orchestra, Northern Public Radio, the Rockford Art Museum, the Rockford Dance Company and the Discovery Center Museum.

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