If you are an avid theatergoer, or attend performances by many of Chicago’s dance and music ensembles, it’s a good bet you have made the acquaintance of many Saints.
The Saints are volunteers for the performing arts – part of an organization with more than 2,400 members who serve more than a hundred Chicago and suburban theater, dance and music organizations of all sizes. Their primary work is ushering, bringing efficiency and a welcoming spirit to the lobby-to-seat experience. In exchange, they get to see performances free of charge, but they more than repay that favor by annually awarding financial grants to the area’s not-for-profit performing arts organizations. In fact, over the last two decades, the Saints have given almost $800,000 to many different groups.This week, The Saints announced they were awarding a total of $125,000 in such grants to 28 groups. The grants, ranging in amounts from $1,000 to $7,500, were given to theater, dance and music organizations for projects to be realized in 2016 and 2017, with grants used for everything from helping to fund and commission new works, to enhancing performance spaces and covering the cost of various kinds of technical equipment. Awardees range in size from relatively new companies to some well-known “brand names” on the Chicago performing arts scene, with recipients operating throughout the Chicago area. This year a total of 120 proposals were considered, with funding for the grants coming almost exclusively from the annual membership dues of the Saints.
The recipients of the 2016 Saints grants, in alphabetical order, are:
+ AERIAL DANCE CHICAGO—The high-flying Northwest Side dance company will be using our grant to help create Ghost Stories, a Halloween-inspired evening of aerial dance dealing with the supernatural.
+ AGUIJON THEATER—The predominately Spanish-language company will receive a much-needed overhaul of their lighting equipment for their space in the northwest Cragin neighborhood thanks to us.
+ ATHENAEUM THEATRE—The venerable Lakeview performance space and community center where the Saints office is located will have a new digital projector system for their mainstage.
+ BABES WITH BLADES—The women and stage-combat oriented company (whose legal name is Vicarious Theatre Company, but is known by everyone as Babes With Blades) will make the experience of the box office and concession area outside the City Lit Theater space at Edgewater Presbyterian Church more special and less like the hallway at a church.
+ BIG NOISE THEATRE COMPANY—The longstanding producers based in Des Plaines (whose legal name is Winnetka Theatre, after their original home) will use the Saints money to make the eye-catching costumes for this fall’s full-length performance of Seussical The Musical.
+ BRIGHTSIDE THEATRE—The Naperville company will be receiving updated sound equipment for their space at Melley-Swallow Hall on the North Central College campus.
+ BROWN PAPER BOX CO.—The company specializing in “engaging, innovative – yet simple – theatre” is using their Saints grant to produce the Chicago premiere of Now. Here. This., a new musical from the creators of [title of show] (which BPB did last summer) in July at Rivendell Theatre.
+ CERQUA RIVERA DANCE THEATRE—The company that combines dance with music and visual art is using our grant to pay artists for its three-year project American Catracho, the creation of artistic director Wilfredo Rivera.
+ CHICAGO CHORAL ARTISTS—The choral group celebrating its 40th anniversary this year will use our grant to hire professional musicians to accompany them for their season of three concerts.
+ CHICAGO DANZTHEATRE ENSEMBLE—The people behind “Performance with a Purpose” will have new lighting equipment for their performances at Andersonville’s Ebenezer Lutheran Church.
+ CHICAGO JAZZ ORCHESTRA—Chicago’s longest-running jazz Big Band will have new equipment to enhance their concerts.
+ CITADEL THEATRE COMPANY—It’s a new sound system for the Lake Forest-based company (which turned Equity last year).
+ DEAD WRITERS THEATRE COLLECTIVE—The company known for “Masterpiece Theatre”-style productions of works by and/or about writers who are dead is using our funds for humble power tools to build their season at the Athenaeum studios.
+ FILAMENT THEATRE ENSEMBLE—The Portage Park company that designs immersive theater for the family needs a new sound system for their space and will use our grant to get it.
+ HALCYON THEATRE—The proudly-diverse Albany Park company will use our grant to develop a visiting company program in which they will do more than charge rent.
+ IDLE MUSE THEATRE COMPANY—The company of “theatre that transports” will be transporting new lighting equipment into their shows at Edgewater’s new Edge Theatre.
+ LAKESHORE PRIDE MUSICAL ENSEMBLES—One of those ensembles in the LGBT organization is the group that started it all, the Freedom Marching Band, which is in need of new sousaphones (the instruments similar to tubas). The Saints support will allow them to play on at many different Chicago events, including (of course) the Pride Parade.
+ MAIN STREET OPERA—The opera company that appears in four different locations has with this summer’s The Consul an expenditure they’ve never had before—royalties (operas tend to be in public domain). The Saints grant will pay for the royalties for the July performances of the Gian Carlo Menotti opera.
+ NORTHBROOK SYMPHONY ORCHESTRA—After over 35 years in operation, those music stands need to be replaced—and our grant will take care of that.
+ NOTHING SPECIAL PRODUCTIONS—Last year, it was puppets. This year, we’re providing the money for a costume designer for their upcoming production of Gayspolitation.
+ ORACLE THEATRE—The innovators of “Public Access Theatre” will have new projection and lighting equipment thanks to the Saints.
+ PEGASUS THEATRE CHICAGO—The long-standing company will use our grant to help produce a new musical adaptation of Charles Johnson’s novel Middle Passage called Rutherford’s Travels, written by David Barr III and artistic director Ilesa Duncan.
+ RED CLAY DANCE COMPANY—The South Side Afro-contemporary dance company will use their Saints grants for paying for artist and costumes for a new work.
+ REMBRANDT CHAMBER PLAYERS—The classical chamber music ensemble will pay for commission fees, musician stipends and production expenses for two of next season’s concerts.
+ SIDESHOW THEATRE COMPANY—The people who stand for “Familiar Stories—Unorthodox Methods—Perpetually Curious” will fund their Freshness Initiative new play development program with our grant.
+ TEATRO VISTA—Chicago’s pioneering Latino company (like Sideshow, a resident company at Victory Gardens Theater) will have a new video projection system with our help.
+ TUTA THEATRE CHICAGO—Last year, we got a new sound system for the experimental company and now we’re making possible a computerized lighting board for either their Ravenswood space or rental spaces.
+ TWO PENCE THEATRE CO.—The company that does works by Shakespeare and other artists inspired by the Renaissance will use the Saints grant to turn a humble storefront into an intimate Jacobean parlor for audiences to enter in their production this summer of Margaret Cavendish’s The Convent of Pleasure.