LINCOLN SQUARE — The cancellation of this year’s Maifest combined with the closing of Dank Haus’s Lincoln Square building threatens to cripple the nonprofit, its executive director said.
Dozens of public programs, weddings and school fundraisers have been canceled since March 18, causing Dank Haus to hemorrhage over $140,000.
“We are truly the cornerstone for the community and over 40 nonprofits use our building for their own fundraising efforts,” said Monica Jirak, Dank’s executive director. “If the Dank Haus fails, the community fails.”
The nonprofit also relies on beer and food sales at Maifest, which typically has 35,000 people in attendance, to raise an average of $75,000 each year. That money goes towards maintaining Dank’s six-story, 93-year-old building at 4740 N. Western Ave.
The building was closed and Maifest was canceled to help slow the spread of the coronavirus.
The Neighborhood Boys and Girls Club, German American Police Association, Ravenswood School, Northside College Prep, Boy Scouts of America, Waters Elementary and other neighbors come to vote, get married, attend community meetings and worship at the building, Jirak said.
“The ripple effect has the potential to bear down on dozens of other nonprofits in the Lincoln Square community. People often assume we operate exclusively for German Americans, but we support local theaters, community orchestras, small businesses, churches and schools in the neighborhood. Everyone that calls Dank Haus home needs to rally or there may be no Haus to come home to,” said Dagmar Freiberger, Dank’s board president.
Dank Haus sent an email asking people to donate here to help cover its losses from the event cancellations.
“We are committed to the safety of our students, teachers, staff, visitors and guests and will not reopen until it is safe,” Jirak said.
But because it’s uncertain when the state shutdown will end, she’s worried about Dank’s ability to stay open once the pandemic is over.
“We also are worried about our storied Lincoln Square neighborhood and all of our restaurants and retailers that are affected by the pandemic,” Jirak said.
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