MacArthur Foundation pledges support to 14 Chicago Arts Organizations

It’s an exciting time to be making theatre in Chicago, for many reasons.  But the big news is that the MacArthur foundation has decided to grant $6 million in general support grants to arts organizations in Chicago.  I’m thrilled to see theatres like A Red Orchid, Timeline and especially The Hypocrites getting some well-deserved support.  But there are several groups I’d never heard of receiving some pretty significant grants. It makes me wonder, what have I been missing out on?

Here’s the low-down on some lesser known recipients of this year’s MacArthur Award for Creative and Effective Institutions and some of their programming you should pencil in.

Albany Park Theatre Project

Who they are: Not only does APTP create original works around the theme of social justice, seen by as many as 50,000 Chicagoans since 1997–they’re performed by the group’s celebrated youth ensemble.  In addition, APTP boasts70% of APTP alumni graduate college by the age of 24 – that’s nearly 7 times the national college graduation rate for low-income, first-generation college students.” 

What you should see: Last summer, APTP paired up with artists from Third Rail Projects to create an immersive theatre production exploring the experience of students in Chicago public schools.  The 45-minute performance got such a strong response from attendees that they’ll be continuing to explore and expand the project.  Keep an eye on APTP’s website for more info.

Eighth Blackbird

Who they are:What began as a group of Oberlin Conservatory students making music together is now Eighth Blackbird Performing Arts Association, a Grammy-Award winning music ensemble that performs new classical works in Chicago and around the world.

What you should see: Coming up at the MCA on Marh 25th is Ghostlight, a performance featuring three original songs written for the ensemble, including an expanded version of Bryce Dessner’s Murder Ballades featured on the group’s Grammy Award -winning album Filament.  If you can’t make the show, you should definitely check out the album which you can download on iTunes.

Links Hall

Who they are:Since 1978, Links Hall has been Chicago’s go-to resource for daring, exploratory, and improvisational performance . . . Links Hall has a growing international reputation as an incubator for original, multidisciplinary performance art.”  They might be the most interesting of the MacArthur grant recipients.  Founded by three experimental choreographers in 1978, Links Hall originated as a small artists’ cooperative and has since expanded into an incredible resource for multidisciplinary artists in Chicago.

What you should see: Links Hall offers so much programming, I wouldn’t know where to begin.  However, they do offer a $60 Hall Pass, which gets you into any 6 performances between now and June.  You can check out everything they’ve got going on on their calendar.

Do you absolutely love one of these groups?  Have another off-the-beaten path theatre recommendation?  Email us at

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