Annual Powering the Arts Program provides nearly $130,000 in funding to expand access to local arts initiatives
CHICAGOTo support accessibility to the arts in northern Illinois in the face of challenges due to the pandemic, ComEd and the League of Chicago Theatres today announced grants of up to $10,000 each to 16 nonprofit organizations through the annual ComEd Powering the Arts Program.
Since 2018, the program has supported initiatives and workshops across the communities ComEd serves that boost public awareness, community programming, engagement and enjoyment of the arts. This year’s grants place special emphasis on arts organizations’ efforts to reach new and diverse audiences.
“Long before the challenges of the past year and a half, ComEd and the League of Chicago Theatres recognized the value of the arts as a means to enrich people’s lives,” said Melissa Washington, senior vice president of governmental and external affairs at ComEd. “Today nonprofit arts organizations continue to face challenges in adapting to ever-changing health and safety protocols. Our program is designed to help keep the arts open and accessible to all residents across every community we serve.”
This is the fourth year ComEd has partnered with the League of Chicago Theatres, an alliance of more than 200 Chicago theatres. Since its inception in 2018, the program has awarded more than $450,000 in grants in support of 58 local theatres, arts programs and cultural institutions throughout northern Illinois. Each year, ComEd funds the program, and the League of Chicago Theatres reviews applications and administers the program to grant recipients.
“As arts organizations everywhere are recovering from pandemic shutdowns and looking to the future, the League of Chicago Theatres is pleased to again partner with ComEd for Powering the Arts in an ongoing effort to increase access to the arts,” said Deb Clapp, executive director of the League of Chicago Theatres. “The arts are a vital element to the health of our communities, a fact that inspires our steadfast commitment to making the arts more equitable and available to all audiences in and around Chicago.”
The 16 ComEd Powering the Arts Program grant recipients for 2021 are:
Aguijón Theatre Company (Chicago – Belmont-Cragin): This grant will provide free tickets to residents of Chicago’s Belmont-Cragin neighborhood for the return of the “La gran tirana: Descarga dramática.” The production incorporates performance and live music to tell the story of the exploration of an artist in exile and is described as a love letter to the sounds and rhythms of the Caribbean.
Alma Dance Theatre (Glen Ellyn, Ill.): This grant will support Alma Dance Theatre’s Dance2Connect Program, which brings dance and movement to children and youth with autism. Since 2017, Alma Dance Theatre has engaged with the special needs community to bring dance as a form of language to special needs youth in the Chicago area and western suburbs. The program aims to encourage and enhance self-expression, patterning and social-emotional awareness.
Architreasures (Chicago – Douglas): This grant will support community art and design programs for youth, adults and seniors in various subsidized housing sites and neighborhoods. Architreasures collaborates with residential program staff, property management staff, tenant associations, as well as other on-site providers to deliver its programming. Architreasures’ youth workshops are delivered over a two- to six-week period and expose participants to a range of visual arts genres (i.e., painting, drawing, stop animation, sculpture, photography, graphic design) while providing a creative outlet for personal and group expression.
Arts of Life (Chicago – West Town): This grant will support the Art of Life’s Virtual Program as a permanent part of its offerings, even after regular, in-person engagement can resume. The planned expansion of digital capabilities will allow artists to continue to build professional relationships nationwide, reaching new audiences and increase their personal financial gain. Arts of Life opened in 2000 on Chicago’s near East Side as the first, alternative day program in Chicago for adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities that focused on artistic vocation.
Barrington Dance Ensemble (Barrington, Ill.): This grant will support the Barrington Dance Reach project initiative, which was postponed last year due to COVID-19. This project will support four areas of service to the community: dance workshops for kindergarten through grade five school children who qualify for free or reduced lunch programs; free theater performance seating for seniors, students and disabled individuals; dance scholarships for six students in kindergarten through grade five who are interested in the study of dance but do not have the financial means; and outreach performances at area schools and after-school programs.
Court Theatre (Chicago – Hyde Park): This grant will support the pairing of 10 South Side elders with 10 South Side artists, as part of Court Theatre’s Artists & Elders program, and provide each artist with the resources to create a special gift for their assigned elder. With the grant, the theatre’s goal is to expand this year’s program cohort to a total of 20 artists working with 60 elders.
Crossroads Blues Society(Byron, Ill.): This grant will support Blues in the School, an annual effort to provide music educational opportunities to area schools by bringing blues music performers into schools to conduct interactive programming with students. Since 2002, Crossroads Blue Society has hosted nearly 600 programs for approximately 90,000 students.
Crystal Lake Strikers Drum Line (Crystal Lake, Ill.): This grant will support four community-driven programs, specifically for the Kingpins (a drumline for special needs students), and Girls on the Drum (a drumming program for elementary and middle-school girls). The programs are multi-year endeavors with the goal of expanding diversity and reaching underserved communities in McHenry County.
Free Street Theatre (Chicago – Back of the Yards): This grant will support a moving performance bus platform for Free Street Theatre’s “57 Blocks” program, which features two youth ensembles: one for participants from across Chicago and the other for youth from Chicago’s Back of the Yards neighborhood and its adjacent neighborhoods. The performance bus will travel up and down Ashland Avenue to increase awareness of how educational and carceral systems shape youth pathways in Chicago.
Her Story Theater (Chicago – Horner Park): This grant will support the production of “Down Came the Rain,” an original play on child exploitation, awareness and prevention, and four one-hour workshops for fourth- through sixth-grade students on the subject matter of the play. Students will also perform a follow-up play in the classroom and participate in activities to promote prevention such as creating campaign posters, public service announcements and leading fundraisers for community advocacy and service organizations.
Homewood Science Center(Homewood, Ill.): This grant will help further establish Homewood Science Center as a hub for science, technology, engineering, art and math (STEAM) in the south suburbs of Chicago. As part of its arts programming, the center will provide guests speakers, exhibits, film screenings and a STEAM studio family makerspace for creative expression at two facilities located one block from the Homewood Metra station.
Jazz Institute of Chicago (Chicago – South Loop): This grant will support the Jazz Institute of Chicago’s (JIC) Projection Promenade, a series of pre-recorded performances featuring local jazz musicians projected onto the walls of neighborhood buildings or structures. To encourage economic growth, the JIC will work with community leaders and institutions to organize open-air markets featuring local restaurants, artwork by local artists and information about the work community organizations are creating in the neighborhood. To capture the history and significance of the arts in the area, the JIC will arrange recording equipment and staff to be onsite for those interested in recording and sharing their stories.
Playmakers Lab (Chicago – North Lawndale & Englewood): This grant will support Playmakers Lab’s Summer of Stories, which are free, drop-in workshops available online to children, summer camps and families of Chicago’s North Lawndale and Englewood neighborhoods. These workshops will be hosted in collaboration with existing neighborhood partners as well as new partnerships established through libraries, community organizations and social service groups.
Snow City Arts (Chicago – Illinois Medical District): This grant will help the Snow City Arts’ Virtual Learning program pursue new organizational partnerships to reach students in transitional spaces outside of the existing partner hospitals. Through these new partnerships, Snow City Arts anticipates an increase of 300 to 500 students in the next year.
Water People Theatre (Chicago – Hyde Park): This grant will support Water People Theater’s Online STUDIO Kids, a program aimed to stimulate and develop human, social and environmental values in children. The program places special emphasis on the participation of children in vulnerable situations or with disabilities and provides them with a creative grandstand through which their voices can be heard and, with their example, boost values within their communities.
Windy Cindy Performing Arts (Chicago – Northalsted): This grant will support Windy Cindy Performing Arts’ Pride Month concert, “After the Rain.” The concert’s theme centers on the adage, “After the storm, comes the rainbow,” to symbolize the connection between Pride Month and hope for the future after more than a year of coping with the COVID-19 pandemic.
ComEd is a unit of Chicago-based Exelon Corporation (NASDAQ: EXC), a Fortune 100 energy company with approximately 10 million electricity and natural gas customers – the largest number of customers in the U.S. ComEd powers the lives of more than 4 million customers across northern Illinois, or 70 percent of the state’s population. For more information visit ComEd.com and connect with the company on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and YouTube.
The League of Chicago Theatres is an alliance of theatres, which leverages its collective strength to support, promote and advocate for Chicago’s theatre industry. Through our work, we ensure that theatre continues to thrive in our city. For a comprehensive list of Chicago productions, visit the League of Chicago Theatres website, ChicagoPlays.com. Half-price tickets to the current week’s performances as well as future performances are available at HotTix.org and at the two Hot Tix half-price ticket locations: across from the Chicago Cultural Center at Expo72 (72 E. Randolph) and Block Thirty Seven (108 N. State).