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12 Northern Illinois Arts Organizations Awarded Grants from ComEd, League of Chicago Theatres

Annual Powering the Arts program supports local arts and cultural community challenged by COVID-19 pandemic

CHICAGO (Sept. 23, 2020) – As the COVID-19 continues to challenge the ways art is performed and experienced, ComEd and the League of Chicago Theatres today announced grants of up to $10,000 each to 12 non-profit arts organizations throughout northern Illinois to support the arts and encourage creativity in these unprecedented times.

While COVID-19 may have silenced some studios and traditional stage performances for now, the grants provided will help work to create and perform art to continue. From a play that explores the lives of students during the desegregation of Evanston's public schools to expanding accessibility to the arts through sensory-friendly performances, this year's recipients are making important contributions to the arts and communities.

"COVID-19 has posed significant challenges to the arts community. Many artistic venues have closed and traditional performances with live audiences are unable to safely proceed. Despite these challenges, the artistic community across northern Illinois continues to find new ways to safely create and share their talent," said Melissa Washington, senior vice president of governmental and external affairs at ComEd. "We are proud to work with the League of Chicago Theatres to support local arts programs, theatres and cultural institutions, and provide more equitable access to the arts in communities we serve."

ComEd and the League, an alliance of more than 200 Chicago theatres, have worked together since 2018 through the Powering the Arts Program. ComEd funds the program, providing more than $100,000 to grantees this year, and the League serves as program administrator to grant recipients.

Earlier this spring, non-profit organizations submitted grant applications for Powering the Arts. An advisory committee composed of members of the region's non-profit arts and culture community reviewed the applications.

"I am truly proud of the partnership we have built with ComEd through this program, which provides exposure to the arts," said Deb Clapp, executive director of the League of Chicago Theatres. "I have seen the tremendous impact of our work together, specifically among underserved communities whose exposure to the arts is otherwise limited. These grants bring vibrancy and joy to communities – even more important this year as we all feel the effects of COVID-19."

Additional information on the ComEd Powering the Arts Program can be found at: https://leagueofchicagotheatres.org/comedpoweringthearts/.

The 12 ComEd Powering the Arts Program grant recipients for 2020 are:

Carlson Community Services (Chicago – Irving Park) This grant will expand Irving Park's Fine Arts Concert Series, a multi-year endeavor, to include seniors living in a Chicago Housing Authority building in the community.

Changing Worlds (Chicago – Brighton Park) The grant will allow Changing Worlds to expand its partnership with Calmeca Dual Language Academy to reach more youth. The partnership will provide music instruction to youth in underserved areas of Brighton Park.

Collaboraction (Chicago – Englewood) The grant will provide free tickets for Englewood residents to Peacebook, Collaboraction's annual performance festival of short works about peace and peacemaking in Chicago. Collaboraction is specifically focused on working in and with artists from Englewood and Chicago's South and West sides. This grant gives residents the opportunity to enjoy the performances firsthand.

Definition (Chicago – Woodlawn) The grant will assist Definition in producing its first production on Chicago's South Side. Definition will also provide workshops and classes in the theater design areas of scenic, costume, lighting, and sound, with the goal of building racial equity among the theater community.

Elmhurst Art Museum (Elmhurst, Ill.) This grant will allow Elmhurst Art Museum to expand its Art is for Everyone program, which gives children from underserved and low-income communities in grades K-8 in DuPage and Cook counties free transportation to and from the museum for a day of arts educational experience. Art is for Everyone currently delivers programming to nearly 600 underserved students annually.

Green Star Movement (Chicago – South and West sides) The grant will support GSM's Community Arts Program, which is a collection of several multi-phase, multi-year partnerships with Chicago communities that are interested in improving their physical environment and healing their communities. The grant gives residents the opportunity to learn the scientific principles of mosaic, sculpture, and painting, and then collaborate to paint and install a public art mural in their community. Each project is durable, resistant to vandalization and does not require any maintenance or upkeep.

Instituto del Progreso (Chicago – Pilsen, Little Village and Back of the Yards) The grant will assist Instituto del Progreso in its bilingual performance program, Diez Minutos, Dies Latidos. The program is focused on Next Generation Voices that tell 10 distinct stories regarding the experiences and thoughts of student scholars and the daily challenges they encounter. The project will engage 25 to 30 students who are interested in performing arts and will be completed before May 2021.

Invictus Theatre (Chicago) The grant will support Invictus Theatre's Shakespeare in the Courts program. The program is a juvenile detention diversion program where educators from Invictus Theatre partner with the Cook County Juvenile Probation system to take a trauma-sensitive approach to rehearsing a Shakespeare production three days a week for six weeks with youth in the Cook County Probation system. The program culminates in a performance for participants' friends, family, judges and probation officers.

Maywood Art Center (Chicago – Maywood) The grant will allow Maywood Art Center to support Classical Ballet for New Audiences (CBNA) in its efforts to increase participation of school children in low-income and underserved communities. CNBA provides aspiring dancers from low-income communities with opportunities to develop a classical ballet repertoire and provide opportunities for children and families from underserved communities to view classical ballet in live performance.

Mudlark Theatre (Evanston, Ill.) The grant will help Mudlark Theatre remount Concerning Foster, an original play which explores the lives of Evanston students during the desegregation of Evanston's public schools. The play brings to life Mudlark's commitment to social justice theatre through stories about young people told by young actors. Mudlark Theatre partners with Illinois artists of color and collaborates with local organizations and community members to bring authenticity to the stories it tells.

Prairie Center (Schaumburg, Ill.) The grant will expand access to the arts through sensory-friendly performances at the Prairie Center that are welcoming and accommodating for adults and children on the autism spectrum and those with other developmental or cognitive disabilities or sensory sensitivities. In partnership with the Northwest Special Recreation Association (NWSRA), the PCAF will present two performances by Catapult Entertainment that are full shadow-illusion concerts, featuring movement and music, which are ideal for audiences with sensory sensitivities.

Total Link 2 (Northbrook, Ill.) The grant will help Total Link 2 provide innovative programs and services that teach critical life skills to help prepare young adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities for the world of work. Total Link 2 provides learning labs, skills development programs, social programs and customized employment processes that empower young adults to be confident, independent and deeply rooted in their communities.

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