Friday, August 31, 2012

Industry Ticket Offers

A Class Act -  Porchlight Music Theatre at Theater Wit, 1229 W. Belmont. is offering a limited number of $10 discount tickets for the Monday, Sept. 3 at 7:30 p.m. performance. Call the box office at 773-975-8150 or and mention code Industry. Limited to two tickets.

The Lady With All The Answers - Buffalo Theatre Ensemble, 425 Fawell Blvd., Glen Ellyn, is offering $10 industry tickets for all performances Sept. 7 to 23. Actor’s tickets are available with headshot and resume and designer tickets are available with business card or resume. Subject to availability. For more information call (630) 942-4000.

Hot 'N' Throbbing by Paula Vogel - Interrobang Theatre Project in residence at the West Stage of the Raven Theatre Complex, 6157 N. Clark St. is offering a limited number of $10 industry tickets to all performances September 20 through October 21 using the code "INDUSTRY" at the Raven Theatre box office. Limited to 2 tickets.

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Crucial Support for the 21st Century

A couple of weeks ago I posted my testimony for the Illinois Arts Council and I have been asked by a few people to write a more detailed blog on the importance of general operating support for our theatres.

I realize I am preaching to the converted and I would never presume to tell anyone how to do their job, but I think we are at a critical point in the world of support for our organizations. In order for our organizations to adapt to 21st century realities, we are going to need to be able to experiment, particularly in the area of structure. We can no longer build theatres the same way they were built 50 years ago and we are going to need support from grant making entities and that support must take the form of general operating support so that our organizations can be nimble enough to take advantage of opportunities and adapt to change. We cannot do with less operating support and we must have more. I think project grants are important and impactful but I think we should take another look at operating support and its impact on the field.

There are very few organizations providing general operating funds to arts organizations. Grant making organizations are under pressure to hold grantees accountable and to show impact through their grant making. In addition, grant makers feel that artistic quality is a subjective judgment and so cannot make grants based on that criteria, leading to some funders making “democratic” grants – i.e. dividing up the pie among qualified applicants based on budget. I understand these issues but believe that we can work together to show that general operating grants in fact have the greatest impact on an organization and that new criteria be developed that can show that impact. If the “democratic” method isn’t working for grant makers, then we can work together to develop criteria for that as well. I am actually not a big fan of everybody gets the money. I think there should be specific criteria and I think it wouldn’t be very difficult to develop them.

General operating support grants are the support that allow us to be innovative, to take risks, and to experiment. While it may seem to a funder that small grants to small organizations have no impact, in fact, it is nothing less than what enables them to continue to do their work. In the unique ecology of Chicago theatre, we are nothing without our small and mid-sized theatres, our small and mid-sized theatres are where our artists grow and learn where new work is de rigueur and where audiences are engaged on a level that is not possible in larger institutions. As I said in my testimony, it’s not sexy, and it’s not an intellectual approach to grant making, but it is vital to our continued survival. If we want theatre to continue to thrive in Chicago, an investment in our theatres through general operating funds is the absolute best way to go about that.

Project grants are important, no doubt about that, but project grants do not pay the rent, they don’t cover expenses, in some cases, they may lead to increased capacity for the organization but in many cases, I’m afraid they simply don’t. In some cases I argue that project grants actually have the opposite effect, stretching an organization so thin that their capacity to make art actually decreases while the company resources are fulfilling the grant. In addition, companies twist themselves up to fit the criteria for these grants.

As an example, take a theatre with an operating budget of under $1 million, probably 10-20% of their income comes from general operating support. Not much, right? Not too big of an impact? Wrong. Losing those grants mean cuts, end of story. At that budget size, operations are lean in the extreme and there is no overhead to cut so the cuts come from staff or production, leading to a further spiral and that in turns lead to further reductions in income. The snowball effect of the loss of even a “small” grant cannot be underestimated.

So what can you do? Fight the fight. When grant makers send you surveys, let them know how important general operating grants are to you. If you have good relationships with your foundation funders, talk to them; ask them to try to influence their colleagues. When you do your final reports, make specific statements about impact. On the City, State and Federal level, talk to your elected officials, talk about what these investments bring to your communities.


Monday, August 27, 2012

Illinois Arts Council Strategic Plan Survey

From the Illinois Arts Council:

Dear Friend of the Arts,

As part of our Strategic Plan process we are conducting a survey. This confidential survey will take about 10 to 15 minutes of your time and is to be completed by 5p.m. on August 28, 2012.

We strongly encourage people to become engaged in this process, and to inform others they know who also have an interest, but might not ordinarily participate. We are making every effort to involve the broadest range of people throughout Illinois because of the value the Illinois Arts Council places on diverse perspectives concerning the arts in our state.

If you have questions or comments, please contact Jerome Grand, Strategic Plan Operations Manager, at or at Illinois Arts Council, Thompson Center, 100 W Randolph, Ste 10-500, Chicago, IL 60601.

Your input is crucial to the development of our 2013 - 2020 Strategic Plan. The plan is targeted for completion in mid-November 2012 and will be made available on our website.


Friday, August 24, 2012

Industry Ticket Offers

Iphigenia 2.0 -- Next Theatre Company at the Noyes Cultural Arts Center, 927 Noyes St, Evanston, is offering $12.50 industry tickets for Thursday, Sept 6 at 7:30 p.m.; Friday, September 7, at 8 p.m.; and Saturday, September 8 at 8 p.m. For tickets, call 847-475-1875 or visit and use the code “Industry.”

Chicago Fringe Festival - August 30-September 9, is offering an industry/Chicago Plays discount toward the cost of the Fringe entrance button to the 2012 Fringe Festival. Tickets just $10/performance. Visit for the discount. Buttons must be picked up at Fringe Central (600 W. Cermak) half an hour prior to performances.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

A New Season

I can't believe that it's the end of August already and another fall theatre season is here. A few of you early birds have even opened your first show already and in the next few weeks many others will join you. We recently compiled and sent out a press release of fall show highlights and there is so much to look forward to in the coming months. It's going to be another amazing year of Chicago theatre with dozens of world and Chicago premieres, new musicals, re-envisioned classics, and lots of great comedy and improv.  We couldn't be more proud to support and promote this theatre community and all of the work that you produce. We look forward to seeing you at the theatre this fall.

Chicago Dramatists Fall 2012 Classes

Always Wanted To Write But Didn’t Know Where to Start? This Fall: Become a Playwright at Chicago Dramatists

A national leader in playwright training, Chicago Dramatists offers a variety of professional playwriting classes designed for both beginning and experienced playwrights. Classes are focused on building practical skills and stage-worthy scripts, and are conducted in a supportive, positive environment. Most classes include a mixture of lecture, discussion, writing assignments (both in and out of class), reading and critiquing participants’ work.

A teacher or acting-school student? Receive 15% off and if you’re a theater undergrad or grad student, receive 40% off! Discounts for seniors and first timers are also available along with the full listing of classes at

Hurry! Registration is limited!

Monday, August 20, 2012

Industry Ticket Offers

Illegal Use of Hands -- American Blues Theater at Victory Gardens Biograph Theater, 2433 N. Lincoln Avenue, Chicago, is offering a limited number of $10 industry tickets for previews Friday August 31, Saturday September 1, and Sunday September 2. Call (773) 871-3000 and mention this office. Visit for more information.

33 Variations - TimeLine Theatre Company at Stage 773, 1225 W. Belmont Ave. is offering $15 industry tickets for preview performances on August 24, 25 and 29 at 8PM and August 26 at 2 and 7 PM. Tickets are $15 (plus applicable fees through Stage 773) when you use the code “Industry”. Call the Stage 773 Box Office at 773.327.5252 or purchase online at For more information:

Savage Land - Nothing Special Productions at The Den, 1333 N. Milwaukee Ave. is offering $12 industry tickets for performances through September 2. Click here for tickets

That's Voiceover! - Harris Theater for Music and Dance, 205 E. Randolph is offering a $75 industry ticket price (regularly $225) for the event on Saturday, August 25. For tickets click here and use code ChicagoPlays.

Friday, August 17, 2012

Space Availability at the new Rivendell Theatre

Fall space available at the beautiful new Rivendell Theatre in Edgewater. 50 seat theatre is available November 19th - December 30th. Rental includes state of the art, brand new sound and light packages . For more information, including rental rates, tech specs, and contract details please contact building owner Steve Misetic at, or at 847-477-8445.

Thursday, August 16, 2012


A couple of weeks ago, I testified at a public hearing before the Illinois Arts Council Strategic Plan Task Force, I thought you might be interested in what I said.

 I am Deb Clapp, Executive Director of the League of Chicago Theatres. Thank you for giving me the opportunity to speak. I am here today on behalf of our 237 member theatres in Chicagoland, ranging, geographically as far north as Waukegan and Gurnee, as far west as Woodstock and Aurora, as far South as Chicago Heights and as far east as Navy Pier. I believe that the arts are essential to who we are as human beings, that the arts are not a luxury but a necessity for a functional society. The arts are at the core of what makes a community not just livable, but vital. We are fortunate to have a Governor who is a strong advocate for the arts. We have a multitude of world class arts organizations operating in Illinois, we have, according to such publications as Time Magazine, the Wall Street Journal, the New York Times and the London Guardian, the most vibrant and innovative theatre community in the country. My vision for the arts in Chicago and in Illinois is that we become the leader in arts innovation, that through the arts the Citizens of Illinois are enriched not only through the economic impact that the arts provide but through the impact on creativity, knowledge, ingenuity, resourcefulness and originality. My vision is that Illinois becomes the state of creativity, applying creative solutions to challenges that seem insurmountable.

 I believe that the Illinois Arts Council can help to achieve the vision of Illinois as a state of creativity through a program of intensive advocacy for the arts. Each and every representative in the house and senate of Illinois should understand what the arts bring to their communities; they should be made aware of the social and the economic impact of the arts in their districts. Each representative should be proud of their investment in and the impact of the arts. I imagine a future in which representatives are fighting over arts organizations moving into their districts as they do now over corporations, because they understand the impact of the arts on business, on quality of life and on our children. The Arts Council can make this happen through education efforts.

 The sustainability of our arts organizations is of paramount importance for us to achieve this vision. The Illinois Arts Council makes sustainability possible through investment in the arts via general operating grants. In an economic climate in which sources of support for the arts and the vital programming our organizations provide is dwindling, support in the form of general operating grants provide arts organizations and artists with an essential form of support. These grants literally pay the bills; these grants give our artists the ability and the freedom to create. While project grants might seem sexier and while it might be easier to measure the direct impact of such grants, I would argue that such grants actually can hamper the effectiveness of arts organizations by compromising their sustainability and their capacity. Investment by the State of Illinois in general operating grants is an investment in the future of our artists and our communities. Further, I would recommend that to increase the sustainability of our arts organizations, that the Arts Council offer multi-year support, grants for three or more years so that organizations can count on that support and be free to make their own investment in greater creativity and innovation.

Public funding for the arts should be supported because as John F Kennedy said, “Aeschylus and Plato are remembered today long after the triumphs of Imperial Athens are gone. Dante outlived the ambitions of thirteenth century Florence. Goethe stands serenely above the politics of Germany, and I am certain that after the dust of centuries has passed over our cities, we too will be remembered not for victories or defeats in battle or in politics, but for our contribution to the human spirit.” JFK said that in support of the National Cultural Center that would come to bear his name. I understand that there are difficult choices to be made in the public arena in these most difficult times, but I say invest in creativity, in innovation, in ingenuity, but most of all invest in the human spirit. Let’s not be remembered for what we cut, let’s be remembered for what we held on to against all odds, let’s be remembered for being the state of creativity and for our contributions to the human spirit.

Industry Ticket Offer

Impenetrable by Mia McCullough - Stage Left Theatre at Theater Wit, 1229 W. Belmont Ave., is offering $15 industry tickets for performances Thursday, September 6th; Thursday, September 13th; and Thursday, September 20th. Mention this offer at the door for industry ticket price.

pool (no water) - Vitalist Theater at Greenhouse Theater Center is offering $10 industry tickets August 22 and 23, August 25 at 8 p.m., and August 26 at 3 p.m.. Call 773.404.7336 or and mention code POOL at the Box Office.

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Beyond Economic Impact

Last night I had someone ask me if the League couldn’t do some research on how theatres have affected the neighborhoods they are in. I thought it was an interesting request, not just the usual economic impact factors but how they have helped to build and sustain the community somehow. And what the effect has been on the theatre – how has working in that community made the theatre what it is. I know most of you don’t have buildings and so perhaps have trouble identifying with a particular community but I wonder if you have some presence that you particularly value. What has your effect on your community been – even if it hasn’t been on a neighborhood?

In my last post I was wondering if a rural model could transfer to an urban environment and in thinking more about that, I think it has more to do with the effect you have on your community than it does with where you are geographically. It is well documented that we have a significant economic impact wherever we are but we also have a social impact and how can we measure that? And, how can we multiply it? How can we connect beyond the play and make our theatres invaluable members of the community. Not that playmaking is not invaluable but if you look at the businesses that have the most social value, they don’t only do what they do, they look beyond what they do for social impact. Michael Rohd has some interesting ideas about building civic practice you can read here.


Tuesday, August 7, 2012

2013 Raven Theatre New Play Workshop Submissions

Raven Theatre is now accepting submissions for its 2013 New Play Workshop that explores the American family. The selected play will receive a fully-rehearsed three-performance presentation in August 2013.
Playwrights are invited to submit 10-page script samples as follows:
• Plays must address the American family in a significant way.
 • Playwrights MUST be available to attend rehearsals at Raven Theatre.
 • Unproduced plays only; however previous readings and developmental workshops are acceptable.
• Include a 10-PAGE SAMPLE ONLY, plus a synopsis and character breakdown. We will contact you if we would like to see the full script.
 • Please email your submissions and contact information to by November 1, 2012.

For further information, go to or contact Susan.

Monday, August 6, 2012

Industry Ticket Offers

Man of La Mancha - Light Opera Works at Cahn Auditorium, 600 Emerson in Evanston, is offering half-price industry tickets on August 11, 17 and 25 at 8 p.m., and August 12 and 15 at 2 p.m. For tickets call 847-920-5360 or visit and use code "windmill." Tickets must be purchased in advance. No door sales.

Three Sisters – Steppenwolf Theatre Company in the Downstairs Theatre, 1650 N. Halsted, is offering $25 industry tickets for performances August 9 – August 26, excluding Saturday nights. Available online or at the box office with code INDUSTRY. More info at or call audience services at 312-335-1650.

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Travelling Again

I’ve been travelling again. This time I was in Western Massachusetts for a few days. I went to a place you have probably never heard of (or maybe you have, I’m probably late to the party as usual), called Double Edge Theatre. Listen up people, these guys are awesome. You can go to their website and check them out. They have a core company of 10 artists who live and work in this rural town in MA. I hadn’t been there for more than 10 minutes when they told me that this was most definitely not a commune – not in reality and not in spirit – which I found really interesting because of course, before I went there, that’s exactly what I envisioned. Their values encompass rigorous training, a long development period for the work, community, sustainability, and environmentalism, among other things. Their place of work is a farm. They give themselves the extraordinary gift of time and space. I had the treat of seeing a show there, THE ODYSSEY, a spectacle piece that they create using different areas of the farm that they have turned into theatrical spaces. The show embodied all the values of the company, was extremely well done and an absolute delight. They are working on a cycle of pieces based on the work of Marc Chagall and the first one will be ready for viewing in January and guess where its previewing? Yup, right here in the theatre capital of America – at the Dance Center.  Like their previous pieces, this one will tour the country and the world. I was really inspired by the company and their work and it got me thinking about the implications for a company like this in Chicago or in any City. I don’t think it can only be done in a rural setting, although there are certain advantages that cannot be denied. But I started to think about all the blighted neighborhoods in Chicago (Double Edge got the farm cheap because it was a dairy farm and all the dairy farms went out of business and it is in the middle of nowhere) and what if a group of artists got a house or a couple of houses and lived and worked there and built a community around the work. Maybe someone already has. Maybe it’s impractical in Chicago. I wonder if thinking about this model might lead me (or you) to thinking about other models that could be workable. I think the key to this one is that it’s not about audience, it’s first about the work and second about the community and the place of these artists in that community and the world. And, by the way, I think by now every performance this summer is sold out. They are not rich, they need public funding like the rest of us, but it is a somewhat unique model that I thought I would share and I hope it inspires you too.