The Chicago Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events (DCASE) is pleased to announce the 2015 IncentOvate Program grant recipients: Court Theatre, the DuSable Museum of African American History, Goodman Theatre, The Joffrey Ballet, Lyric Opera of Chicago and Old Town School of Folk Music will be awarded competitive grants totaling $400,000 to support projects that advance the goals of the Chicago Cultural Plan and Cultural Tourism Strategy.
“This group of IncentOvate Program grantees shows the creativity and ingenuity of our city’s cultural institutions and neighborhood arts organizations,” said DCASE Commissioner Michelle T. Boone. “Each of these projects contributes to the cultural landscape, engages new audiences and reinforces Chicago as an international draw attracting people from all over the world to experience its arts.”
The IncentOvate Program, now in its second year, is part of the Cultural Grants Program of the Chicago Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events, which provides more than $1.7 million annually in direct funding to artists, creative professionals and arts and cultural organizations across Chicago – including the CityArts Program, which supports small to mid-sized nonprofits, and the Individual Artists Program. IncentOvate stimulates cultural innovation and supports the city’s larger cultural institutions to foster the creation of new large-scale public arts experiences. This competitive grants program is made possible by Chicago Cultural Plan implementation funds designed to advance priorities articulated in both the Chicago Cultural Plan and the Chicago Tourism Strategy. Twenty-eight applications were reviewed by an independent panel on criteria that included: 1) the innovation of a new program or product; 2) the presence of or collaboration with neighborhood cultural programs or experiences, and 3) the opportunity for audience growth through arts education for all ages, increased access to the arts, the integration of culture into daily life and/or enhanced collaboration across public spaces.
The six projects funded include:
- Court Theatre is coordinating the artistically-expansive Louis Armstrong Festival in conjunction with its staging of Satchmo at the Waldorf, a one-man, three-character exploration of the famed jazz musician’s life. Involving the Beverly Arts Center, Gallery Guichard, the Logan Center for the Arts and The Promontory restaurant, among others, the festival programming includes theatrical arts, visual arts, films, scholarly symposia and, of course, music performance throughout January and February 2016. This project “facilitates neighborhood cultural assets” and “strengthens Chicago as a global cultural destination,” among other priorities of the Chicago Cultural Plan.
- The DuSable Museum of African American History is honoring the 50th anniversary of the 1967 dedication of the landmark public art mural, the “Wall of Respect” with Project RESPECT, including the ambitious recreation of the historic mural at the museum and development of educational and public programs to explore the impact of the Wall on Chicago’s history, public art and Black Arts Movement. Among other priorities of the Chicago Cultural Plan, this project “fosters arts education and lifelong learning” and “elevates and expands neighborhood cultural assets.”
- Goodman Theatre will co-produce Learning Curve, an immersive, site-specific theatrical journey created collaboratively by Albany Park Theater Project (APTP) and Brooklyn-based Third Rail Projects and performed by APTP’s youth ensemble. Planned for summer 2016, Learning Curve places audiences within the walls of a Chicago public high school and in the shoes of its students. It will be one of Chicago’s first immersive performances, placing audiences directly inside the story and world of the performance, and the first large-scale immersive performance anywhere to be developed with and performed by youth. The project “elevates and expands neighborhood cultural assets and cultural assets” and “fosters cultural innovation,” among other priorities of the Chicago Cultural Plan.
- The Joffrey Ballet, now celebrating its 60th anniversary, is commissioning Tony Award-winning choreographer Christopher Wheeldon to re-envision the classic ballet The Nutcracker for a world premiere in December 2016. Announcements in early spring will provide more information on the reimagined storyline and the artistic team creating new sets, costumes, scenery and choreography—still set to Tchaikovsky’s glorious score. Among other priorities of the Chicago Cultural Plan, this project “attracts and retains artists and creative professionals” and “strengthens Chicago as a global cultural destination.”
- Lyric Opera of Chicago’s Lyric Unlimited program is launching Chicago Voices community-created collaborations, new music theater pieces generated by an incredible citywide invitation to Chicagoans to share their community stories. A social media campaign will then offer everyone the opportunity to view selections online and vote for the stories that they find most compelling for development into semi-staged readings at neighborhood venues. This project “elevates and expands neighborhood cultural assets” and “promotes the value and impact of culture,” among other priorities of the Chicago Cultural Plan.
- Old Town School of Folk Music is creating a musical travelogue entitled 77 Beats, designed to celebrate all 77 of Chicago’s ethnically-diverse neighborhoods. In consultation with community leaders, 77 Beats will present a series of “pop-up” performances representing the music and culture of each neighborhood, paired with other cultural elements such as cuisine, visual arts and traditions in unique and unexpected locations, throughout spring, summer and fall 2016. Among several priorities of the Chicago Cultural Plan addressed by the program, this project “elevates and expands neighborhood cultural assets” and “facilitates neighborhood cultural planning.”
For more information about the Cultural Grant Program of the Chicago Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events, please visit chicagoculturalgrants.org.
Chicago Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events
The Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events (DCASE) is dedicated to enriching Chicago’s artistic vitality and cultural vibrancy. This includes fostering the development of Chicago’s non-profit arts sector, independent working artists and for-profit arts businesses; providing a framework to guide the City’s future cultural and economic growth, via the 2012 Chicago Cultural Plan; marketing the City’s cultural assets to a worldwide audience; and presenting high-quality, free and affordable cultural programs for residents and visitors. For more information, visit cityofchicago.org/dcase.
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