A Red Orchid Theatre receives $200k MacArthur Award for Creative and Effective Institutions

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A Red Orchid Theatre today was awarded the prestigious MacArthur Award for Creative and Effective Institutions. The Award recognizes exceptional nonprofit organizations who have demonstrated creativity and impact, and invests in their long-term sustainability with sizable one-time grants. A Red Orchid will use its $200,000 MacArthur Award to establish a cash reserve and implement its audience development and communication plan that includes new marketing and audience engagement strategies. “Breathless, elated, tearful, humbled and full of pride in our artists, our staff and our board of directors; I find myself feeling all of these things,” says Artistic Director Kirsten Fitzgerald. “Ultimately though, we are honored and incredibly grateful to receive this recognition from such a prestigious organization. The MacArthur Foundation’s enthusiasm for the art and confidence in our leadership is immediately tangible in their unparalleled investment in our future. With this award, all of us at A Red Orchid Theatre look forward to developing new audiences and getting to know our current patrons so much better; all in the service of sharing the fearless live experience that is A Red Orchid Theatre for many seasons to come.

“These superbly imaginative organizations exemplify Chicago’s thriving arts and culture community, which is vibrant and economically vital to the region,” said MacArthur President Julia Stasch. “Support for these diverse and leading organizations reflects our enduring commitment to Chicago and to its cultural life that enriches us all.”

A Red Orchid Theatre produces contemporary plays from all over the world and revives works from the past with modern relevance to build new audiences for live theatre.

A Red Orchid brings a sense of social compassion, aesthetic rigor, and honesty to its work, demonstrating that an organization does not have to have a large budget to create award-winning artistic work. As one of Chicago’s leading storefront theatre companies, its 70-seat venue is small, yet its designs, staging, and direction have been praised as elaborate, fantastical and immersive. It is known for its fearless approach to performance and design in the service of intimate stories. Located in the Old Town neighborhood, its productions entertain more than 5,000 people a year.

With a resident ensemble of actors, directors, writers, and designers, the theatre produces three to four theatrical productions each season, many of which are either world or U.S. premieres. Its work is seen both on its local stage and across the country; a remount of one of its productions recently had a successful run in New York. Its productions and performers are regularly nominated for critical awards.

In addition to its regular productions, A Red Orchid operates an incubation program for established and emerging artists to explore new works, new theatrical forms, and new artistic collaborations. The A Red Orchid Youth Ensemble has developed and performed new and existing works that empower young performers to apply an impressive range of creativity, emotion, and intellectual rigor.

About the MacArthur Award for Creative and Effective Institutions

The award has been presented annually since 2006 to organizations across the country and around the world that demonstrate exceptional creativity and effectiveness. This year’s 14 recipients are drawn exclusively from Chicago’s diverse arts and culture community in order to strengthen the city’s vibrant cultural life and underscore the Foundation’s commitment to its hometown. Each year, MacArthur supports more than 300 arts and culture group in Chicago, awarding more than $10 million in grants, mostly through general operating support.

According to MacArthur, the Award is not only recognition for past leadership and success but also an investment in the future. For these Awards, the Foundation does not seek or accept nominations. To qualify, organizations must demonstrate exceptional creativity and effectiveness; have reached a critical or strategic point in their development; show strong leadership and stable financial management; have previously received MacArthur support; and engage in work central to one of MacArthur’s core programs.

Additional information about this year’s MacArthur Awards is at www.macfound.org/MacAward.

About A Red Orchid

A Red Orchid Theatre has served as an artistic focal point in the heart of the Old Town community of Chicago since 1993. Chicago Magazine named A Red Orchid Chicago’s Best Theatre Company of 2010. Over the past 23 years, its Resident Ensemble has welcomed into its fold an impressive array of award winning actors, playwrights, designers and directors with the firm belief that live theatre is the greatest sustenance for the human spirit and that passionately committed productions will draw passionately committed audiences. A Red Orchid is well known and highly acclaimed for its fearless approach to performance and design in the service of unflinchingly intimate stories.

A Red Orchid Theatre is: Lance Baker, Kamal Angelo Bolden, Dado, Mike Durst, Jennifer Engstrom, Kirsten Fitzgerald, Joseph Fosco, Steve Haggard, Mierka Girten, Larry Grimm, Karen Kawa, Karen Kessler, Danny McCarthy, Shade Murray, Brett Neveu, Michael Shannon, Guy Van Swearingen, Doug Vickers and Natalie West.