The Saints, Chicago's Volunteers for the Performing Arts, has announced that it is awarding $121,269 in grants to 26 performing arts groups in the Chicago metropolitan area for 2017.
The grants, ranging in amounts from $900 to $7,500, were awarded to theater, dance and music organizations for 2017 and 2018 projects. Over the last two decades, the Saints have given over $800,000 to many different performing arts groups, starting with a donations committee making random selections in 1995 and adapting over the years to the present grants process.
Among the many things the grants are funding are the commission of new works, enhancement of performance spaces and the purchase of various kinds of technical equipment. Evaluation criteria looked at the project description, financial viability and legal verification, collaboration among organizations, dedication to cultural and ethnic diversity and addressing underrepresented or physically challenged audiences. The grant application process was entirely web-based.
Awardees range in size from relatively new companies to some well-known brand names in Chicago performing arts. The organizations are not just on the North Side, but throughout all of the Chicago area.
The selection process is handled by an all-volunteer grants commission headed by Ruth Johnston that evaluated a total of over 160 proposals. Funding for the grants comes almost exclusively from the annual membership dues of the over 2,400 members of the Saints.
The recipients of the 2017 Saints grants, in alphabetical order:
16TH STREET THEATER-Berwyn's own theater company is receiving a grant to make possible the projections and art designs for their 2018 Chicago premiere of Kathleen Cahill's Iraq drama Harbur Gate.
AUDIENCE ARCHITECTS-A unique service organization for Chicago's dance scene will be able to offer to its members a sound system to accompany their portable dance floor for neighborhood performances thanks to our grant.
BARREL OF MONKEYS-The company that gives writing workshops to Chicago Public Schools students and performs the results for family audiences for all ages will receive funds for audio-visual equipment for their school performances where the workshop results are first seen.
BOHEMIAN THEATRE ENSEMBLE-The company that's better known as BoHo Theatre will receive from our grant wireless microphones to be used in musical theater productions at their traditional spaces and beyond.
THE CHICAGO CUATRO ORCHESTRA PROJECT-The organization devoted to the traditional music of Puerto Rico and the stringed instrument it's played on will use the grant for a sound system upgrade.
Chicago Dramatists-The seats in the company's River West space are the same that they had when they moved in the space in 1988 (and look it)-thanks to the Saints, seats will now get repaired.
THE CHICAGO FILM ARCHIVE OF PERFORMANCE-This grant will allow the organization that captures live theater on video for future audiences to record performances of two Chicago theater productions.
CHICAGO HEIGHTS DRAMA GROUP-The Chicago Heights community theater, now in its 86th year of operation, will receive funds for the latest in energy-efficient lamps for their Milord Studio Theatre.
CITY LIT THEATER COMPANY-The venerable literary-oriented company will include puppets (!) in a production of a new translation by Nicholas Rudall of the attributed to Aeschylus Prometheus Bound.
FIRST FOLIO THEATRE COMPANY-Oak Brook's own theater company will upgrade their lighting equipment to state-of-the-art energy-efficient instruments.
GENESIS THEATRE PRODUCTIONS-The company will be presenting the Chicago premiere of Sister Africa later this summer at the Athenaeum Theatre and will use the funds to commission an original musical score.
THE GIFT THEATRE COMPANY-Chicago's smallest Equity theater in Jefferson Park on the Northwest Side will have new lighting, projection and sound equipment.
HIGHLAND PARK PLAYERS-Another venerable community theater, this one based on the North Shore, will get a sound equipment update, including body microphones for musicals.
JACKALOPE THEATRE-The acclaimed company based in Edgewater's Broadway Armory will be able to better support their designers with a sewing machine, steamer and tools, among other things.
LIFELINE THEATRE-Rogers Park's "Big Stories, Up Close" company will receive an extra computer to relieve the current overuse of their present equipment.
NIGHTBLUE PERFORMING ARTS COMPANY-The musical theater company based at Stage 773 will be using their grant for getting new lighting equipment and maintaining their present sound system.
OAK PARK FESTIVAL THEATRE-A company that specializes in summer Shakespeare in Oak Park's Austin Gardens should have all of the instruments of Elizabethan war that they need. Thanks to the Saints, they will-with broadswords, rapiers, shields and much more.
The Other Theatre COMPANY-The company "dedicated to telling the stories of persons or groups who are othered by systems of oppression" will be able to pay their Equity actors for the world premiere of Martin Zimmerman's The Making of a Modern Folk Hero.
THE PLAGIARISTS-The company that "steal[s] from literature, visual art, history, and the culture at large to create new theatre that finds the familiar in the strange, the unique in the commonplace and ultimately enlarges the world" will create costumes and makeup for a new play about mistaken identities in a military dictatorship.
Porchlight Music Theatre CHICAGO-The "American musicals, Chicago style" company will be improving their sound system for their move to the Ruth Page Theater from Stage 773.
PRIDE FILMS AND PLAYS-A company that recently made a big move into a new home will be purchasing lighting equipment for the two theater spaces.
REDTWIST THEATRE-The "white hot drama, in a tiny black box, with a little red twist" company will create a dressing area for a disabled actor appearing in this summer's Going to a Place Where You Already Are.
THE SELDOMS-The company that is "pushing the edge of what dance can do" will use their grant to rent lighting and sound equipment for a new site-specific work at Pulaski Park.
SILK ROAD RISING-The company focusing on authors of the "Silk Road" need to overhaul their phone system and we'll help them with that.
STRAWDOG THEATRE COMPANY-We'll help the company secure the rights to Robert O'Hara's off-Broadway hit Barbecue for a run at Steppenwolf's 1700 Theatre.
SYNAPSE ARTS-The Rogers Park-based Dance Company will be creating wired costumes-complete with Bluetooth players and wired speakers-for the work Light Hand, to be produced at Edgewater's historic Colvin House.
The Saints will be celebrating our grant recipients on Mon. June 12 at the Athenaeum Theatre, 2936 N. Southport, with a reception at 6 p.m. and the program, hosted by WDCB-FM's "Dueling Critics" Jonathan Abarbanel and Kelly Kleiman, beginning at 7 p.m. The public is invited.
The 2,400 members of The Saints Volunteers for the Performing Arts provide volunteer services for over 100 Chicago area performing arts organizations annually, along with financial support to these organizations. Saints membership both provides an opportunity to personally support the arts in Chicago and see shows affordably by ushering. More information is available at saintschicago.org.