TimeLine Theatre Company today was awarded the prestigious MacArthur Award for Creative and Effective Institutions. The Award recognizes exceptional nonprofit organizations that have demonstrated creativity and impact, and invests in their long-term sustainability with sizable one-time grants.

“Since our founding, TimeLine has sought every day to fulfill our unique mission and to continue the legacy of Chicago theater companies that started small, dreamed big and matured into prominent organizations that enrich the cultural landscape of the city,” Artistic Director PJ Powers said. “To receive this award from the MacArthur Foundation is an extraordinary acknowledgment that we are succeeding in that goal, and provides invaluable financial support as TimeLine embarks upon ambitious plans for our future.”
TimeLine was founded in April 1997 with a mission to present stories inspired by history that connect with today’s social and political issues. To date over 19 seasons, the company has presented 66 productions, including nine world premieres and 26 Chicago premieres.
Plays have explored everything from the AIDS epidemic to the war in Vietnam, to international arms negotiations, recent financial scandals and the Chicago police torture scandal. Creating an intimate, immersive theatre experience is one of the ways the company brings history to life, fostering conversation and inviting audiences to consider what our past experiences can teach us about our present circumstances and future choices.
TimeLine also brings theater and history education to Chicago Public Schools with its Living History Education Program, an arts integration residency that is closely in tune with the company’s mission. The curriculum is designed to teach theatre skills while fostering the capacity to think creatively, make connections, and understand history and the world at large. More than 3,000 students from eight Chicago schools have actively explored theatre and history since the program began in 2006.
TimeLine Theatre will use the majority of the $625,000 that accompanies the Award to establish a restricted, Board of Directors-managed reserve fund to provide additional long-term financial stability and support strategic goals. A portion of the funds will be used in the short-term to upgrade the company’s technology infrastructure.
“This is a significant moment in TimeLine’s history,” Managing Director Elizabeth K. Auman said. “As we prepare for our 20th Anniversary season and continue to plan for a new home, this award gives us enormous encouragement and the ability to move forward in a much more secure way.”
“The confidence the MacArthur Foundation has shown in TimeLine Theatre by awarding this generous grant is truly humbling,” TimeLine Board President John M. Sirek said. “Running a mid-size arts organization is challenging. Making it thrive even more so. These funds will help TimeLine continue to build upon its already solid foundation while taking our art and organization to the next level.”
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.
“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.”
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 macfound.org/MacAward.
TimeLine Theatre Company, named one of the nation’s top 10 emerging professional theatres (American Theatre Wing, founder of the Tony Awards®, 2011), Best Theatre in Chicago (Chicago magazine, 2011) and the nation’s theater “Company of the Year” (The Wall Street Journal, 2010), was founded in April 1997 with a mission to present stories inspired by history that connect with today’s social and political issues. To date over 19 seasons, TimeLine has presented 66 productions, including nine world premieres and 26 Chicago premieres, and launched the Living History Education Program, now in its ninth year of bringing the company’s mission to life for students in Chicago Public Schools. Recipient of the Alford-Axelson Award for Nonprofit Managerial Excellence and the Richard Goodman Strategic Planning Award from the Association for Strategic Planning, TimeLine has received 52 Jeff Awards, including an award for Outstanding Production 11 times.
TimeLine Theatre’s 2015-16 season includes:

  • NOW PLAYING THROUGH APRIL 10, 2016: Chicago premiere of SUNSET BABY by Dominique Morisseau, directed by TimeLine Company Member Ron OJ Parson, at TimeLine Theatre, 615 W. Wellington Ave., Chicago. SUNSET BABY is “the first great production of 2016” (Newcity) and “one of the more breathtaking performances you will see all season.” (Chicago Sun-Times).
  • COMING SOON: Chicago premiere of the widely acclaimed 2014 Laurence Olivier Award winner for Best New Play, CHIMERICA by Lucy Kirkwood, directed by Associate Artistic Director Nick Bowling, presented May 3 – July 31, 2016 at TimeLine Theatre.
TimeLine is led by Artistic Director PJ Powers, Managing Director Elizabeth K. Auman and Board President John M. Sirek. Company members are Nick Bowling, Janet Ulrich Brooks, Behzad Dabu, Lara Goetsch, Juliet Hart, Mildred Marie Langford, Mechelle Moe, David Parkes, Ron OJ Parson, PJ Powers, Maren Robinson and Benjamin Thiem.
Major corporate, government and foundation supporters of TimeLine Theatre include Alphawood Foundation, Paul M. Angell Family Foundation, Bloomberg Philanthropies, The Crown Family, Forum Fund, Lloyd A. Fry Foundation, Illinois Arts Council Agency, Laughing Acres Family Foundation, MacArthur Fund for Arts and Culture at Prince, The Pauls Foundation, Polk Bros. Foundation and The Shubert Foundation. This project is partially supported by a CityArts Grant from the City of Chicago Department of Cultural Affairs & Special Events.
TimeLine is a member of the League of Chicago Theatres, Theatre Communications Group, Lakeview East Chamber of Commerce and Chicago’s Belmont Theater District.