League of Chicago Theatres launches new fund to improve city’s performing arts venues

image001 (2)The League of Chicago Theatres is pleased to announce a new fund, with the support of a $500,000 grant from the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, to help small theatres and other performing arts venues become safe, licensed, and accessible under the City of Chicago’s Performing Arts Venue License.

“This is an expansion of a successful program that began through a partnership between MacArthur and the Richard H. Driehaus Foundation,” said Elspeth Revere, MacArthur Vice President for Media, Culture, and Special Initiatives. “It will support Chicago’s already thriving theatres by making more of them accessible, comfortable, and safe for artists and audiences.”

Mark J. Kozy, former Director of Operations for the Goodman Theatre, has been hired to work with the League on this project. “Mark’s depth of experience in Chicago theatre, as well as his comprehensive knowledge of building code and construction practices, will be incredibly valuable to Chicago venues,” says League of Chicago Theatres Executive Director Deb Clapp.

Grants will be made by the League to performing arts organizations to pay some of the costs involved in meeting the requirements for licensing and, in turn, to ensure the health and safety of artists and audiences. The funds will be available to League members, dance companies and performing arts venues, with preference given to organizations with budgets under one million dollars.

The League will offer support to theatres at all parts of the process, from determining what modifications need to be made to the space until the venue is fully licensed, legal, safe and accessible. As needed, assistance will be provided with obtaining bids and technical drawings, permits, finding a contractor to do the work, and overseeing that work. The League will also ensure that theatres are getting all the help and guidance available to them through City resources; it will help them to investigate access additional funding, if needed.

“The League has always been available to assist members in finding out how the PAV fund can best be used,” says Clapp. “Now that the PAV fund is housed with the League of Chicago Theatres, the League will now become a place where theatres can look for expertise on safety, licensing, and accessibility, and where questions will not result in punitive measures, but in solutions.”

League of Chicago Theatres Board President Kathryn M. Lipuma states, “The John D. and Catherine T MacArthur Foundation has been a valuable partner to the arts and culture community. The PAV fund is another example of their creative, thoughtful and generous grant making.”

About Chicago theatre

Chicago theatre is a leader in the U.S. with more than 250 theatres throughout Chicagoland, comprising a rich and varied community ranging from storefront, non-union theaters to the most renowned resident theatres in the country, including 5 that have been honored with Regional Tony Awards, and the largest touring Broadway organization in the nation. Chicago’s theatres serve 5 million audience members annually and have a combined budget of more than $250 million. Chicago produces and/or presents more world premieres annually than any other city in the nation. In 2012-13 alone, Chicago theatre companies produced more than 130 world premiere productions and adaptations. Each year, Chicago theatres send new work to resident theatres across the country, to Broadway, and around the world.

About the League of Chicago Theatres

The League of Chicago Theatres is an alliance of theatres which leverages its collective strength to promote, support, and advocate for Chicago’s theatre industry locally, nationally, and internationally. The League of Chicago Theatres Foundation is dedicated to enhancing the art of theatre in the Chicago area through audience development and support services for theatres and theatre professionals.

For a comprehensive list of Chicago productions, visit the League of Chicago Theatres website, www.chicagoplays.com. Half-price tickets are available each week at www.hottix.org.