5 Chicago Organizations That Celebrate & Showcase The Arts

With so much entertainment at our fingertips through TV, the Internet, and smartphones, people can sometimes miss out on the art being created in their own communities. These organizations work to bring attention to creators in Chicago, whether they communicate through theater, dance, or visual art, giving them a forum to put their work on display and the chance to pursue their artistic passions through educational programs and artist residencies. This video was made with Ezvid Wikimaker.

5 Active Arts Organizations in Chicago

Name Focus
Links Hall Performance and studio space that offers residency programs, workshops, festivals, inexpensive studio rentals, fellowships, summer intensives, and classes
EXPO CHICAGO Yearly event featuring galleries from preeminent international exhibitors, solo and double-artist presentations, displays of print media, panel discussions, multimedia presentations, and special exhibitions of curatorial projects from non-profit institutions
Chicago Human Rhythm Project Year-round presenter of tap dance and contemporary percussive arts, with educational and civic outreach initiatives that unite people through the power of percussion and free performances through its STOMPING GROUNDS program
Porchlight Music Theatre Stages dynamic musical productions of both Broadway classics and Chicago premieres, and presents youth classes and summer camps, advanced training for adults, and performances for underserved youth
Auditorium Theatre Historic venue offering shows from local dance companies, contemporary musical acts, operas, speaking events, and national touring productions

The Chicago Human Rhythm Project's STOMPING GROUNDS at the Chicago Cultural Center

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In Depth

As the third largest city in the country, Chicago is full of artistic people who contribute daily to an eclectic and flourishing culture of creativity. It's a place where everyone from painters to actors and designers can feel welcome, where abundant opportunities exist for diverse creators to practice, hone, and exhibit their craft. Focused on theater, dance, multimedia production, and more, here are, in no particular order, five organizations in the Windy City dedicated to promoting and showcasing the arts.

Coming in at #1 is Links Hall. Established in 1978 by a trio of experimental choreographers, this performing arts organization fosters creative innovation and audience engagement by providing opportunities for the cultivation and presentation of new works. Serving as a platform for performance artists who span career levels and disciplines, it offers residency programs, workshops, festivals, inexpensive studio rentals, and more. The group's collaborative venue, which it shares with partner organization Constellation, includes large studio spaces perfect for creative experimentation.

Central to Links Hall is its Co-MISSIONS initiative, which comprises studio and curatorial residencies, fellowships, summer intensives, and touring exchanges, all of which are designed to give artists the resources and professional experience necessary to explore and nurture their projects. In partnership with other creators and collectives, Links Hall also presents unique dance performances and puppet cabarets, and offers classes focused on movement and body-mind awareness. Aid the group and its operations by making a contribution through its site.

Aid the group and its operations by making a contribution through its site.

For #2 we get EXPO CHICAGO, which commences the fall art season every September at Navy Pier. Drawing upon the city's illustrious cosmopolitan culture, it features galleries from preeminent international exhibitors, solo and double-artist presentations, displays of print media, and special exhibitions of curatorial projects from non-profit institutions. The exposition also hosts a wide range of stimulating programs that include panel discussions, multimedia presentations, and public art installed throughout Navy Pier and the city at large.

Among EXPO CHICAGO's specific programs is Dialogues, which involves conversations with creators and arts professionals on a variety of thought-provoking topics. There's also the Curatorial Forum, a series through which veteran and mid-career professionals examine issues pertaining to their field, and the Curatorial Exchange, which works to foster future partnerships and catalyze dialogue about institutional programming and practices. Follow EXPO CHICAGO on social media and spread the word about its events.

At #3 is Chicago Human Rhythm Project. Begun in 1990 as a summer festival, today CHRP stands as the world's first year-round presenter of tap dance and contemporary percussive arts. It works to bring rhythm, inspiration, and strength to the community by presenting concerts, offering educational programs and classes, and launching civic outreach initiatives that unite people through the power of percussion. Committed to nurturing incipient talent, CHRP awards thousands of dollars in annual scholarships to help promising young tappers realize their goals.

It works to bring rhythm, inspiration, and strength to the community by presenting concerts, offering educational programs and classes, and launching civic outreach initiatives that unite people through the power of percussion.

In addition to its ongoing, historic summer festival, CHRP provides community engagement through its Stomping Grounds program, which brings an array of free performances to various locations across the city. Outreach is also the goal of We All Got Rhythm, a series of youth education programs that supply K to 12 students with immersive arts experiences that emphasize social, emotional, and skill-based learning. The group's American Rhythm Center, meanwhile, serves as a development hub for organizations and artists, and offers a range of dance classes for people of all ages. Assist CHRP by volunteering to help with events, workshops, and more.

For #4 we have Porchlight Music Theatre, which connects audiences through illuminating programs and bold live performances of American musical theatre. With an emphasis on creative ingenuity and intimacy, it produces a multitude of visually striking and sophisticated shows performed by both burgeoning and established actors. To nurture future generations of creators and arts patrons, Porchlight also offers a number of education and outreach activities, including youth classes and summer camps, advanced training for adults, and performances for student and underserved youth groups.

Beyond its main stage productions, many of which are Chicago and world premieres, Porchlight runs limited-engagement performances that celebrate forgotten Broadway musicals. Similarly, it presents a revue series that highlights a given season of hits and misses on the Great White Way, with performances showcasing ten emerging local theatre stars. The group's Off the Porch program, meanwhile, is designed to facilitate new works throughout their many stages of development. Become a Porchlight Supporter to help ensure that musical theatre continues to reach and inspire audiences across the city.

Become a Porchlight Supporter to help ensure that musical theatre continues to reach and inspire audiences across the city.

Finally, landing at #5 is the Auditorium Theatre. Designed by the legendary architects Dankmar Adler and Louis Sullivan, and opened in 1889, the Auditorium Theatre is a National Historic Landmark that has played host to everyone from Theodore Roosevelt to Jimi Hendrix and Booker T. Washington. Today, it presents programming that embodies the city's and the world's rich cultural diversity, including shows by premier dance companies such as the Joffrey Ballet, and performances from esteemed musical acts including the Boston Pops and Neil Young.

The Auditorium Theatre commits itself to providing exceptional programs that bring people together through the spirit of performance. Among its myriad offerings are operas, eclectic dance productions, "National Geographic" speaking events, and tours of such famous shows as "The Color Purple" and "The Phantom of the Opera." The organization also shines a spotlight on local dance companies through its "Made in Chicago" series, and enhances the community through a variety of creative activities that engage students inside and outside of the classroom. To help keep the Auditorium Theatre in prime shape, make a donation to support its preservation efforts.