Amid an uptick in COVID-19 and freezing temperatures, Chicago’s creative ecosystem has taken another hit this winter. As it has for much of the pandemic, the city’s reputation for world-renowned live music, comedy and theater hangs in the balance.
Independent music and performance venues are trusted cornerstones, depended upon as inclusive gathering places for all forms of live music and artistic endeavors. We’ve seen our audiences’ excitement as they step through our doors for the first time since COVID entered our vocabulary, and it’s only strengthened our resolve to endure setbacks and create a safe and vibrant show-going environment.
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After 18 months of quiet stages and empty bars, the Shuttered Venue Operators Grants provided a critical lifeline for venues to reopen safely and responsibly. Before the city’s commendable vaccination requirements, venues rolled out their own safety measures. These included showing proof of vaccination, wearing masks and implementing socially distanced performances. The commitment to creating safe spaces for everyone continues unabated.
Our venues take pride in championing up-and-coming performers, and we continue to take chances on newcomers because we believe the next generation of Chicago’s best and brightest performers shouldn’t go unrecognized.
But what happens on stage is only part of what we do: the school fundraisers, weddings, birthdays and block parties, a greeting from your favorite bartender — it all makes leaving the house worth it. We feel closer to a return to the experiences we enjoyed before the pandemic, and every newly vaccinated and boosted show-goer brings us closer to fully reopening.
We see that passion reignited in everyone who steps through the door of their favorite venue for the first time in nearly two years. To many, live performances feel new again. Nothing compares to the excitement the audience feels as the house lights dim and the performer takes the stage. As venue owners, we relish the opportunity to foster these experiences once again.
Hundreds of concerts are being announced and put on sale each week. Fans await news of their favorite performers returning to Chicago as eagerly as the performers await news they’ll again play on Chicago’s stages. Every day, vaccinations are up and cases are down, and when you’re ready, we’ll be here. We’ll see you at the show.
Katie Tuten and Billy Helmkamp, co-chairs, Chicago Independent Venue League
Wrong ideas on curbing violence
It’s disgusting to watch two outsiders unleash ideas on decreasing crime in underserved communities and continue to miss the mark. People are suffering, kids and their parents are dying at alarming rates, and we don’t have time to play politics with real-life situations. People should not be forced to leave the city they call home and raise their family elsewhere.
The answer is not suing gangs for their assets when those who pull the trigger have none. Violence is bred out of conditions that create an unstable mentality. Lawsuits will never change their way of thinking. Only intentional investment will.
Spending millions on violence intervention programs like Chicago Cred is not a long-term solution either. We should focus on investing in young people so they become productive citizens who don’t need violence intervention in the future.
Police officers must be a support structure, not a system we depend on to handle all of a community’s ills. This leads to low morale and an increase in suicides among officers.
Here are a few sensible solutions: Increase the number of stakeholders in communities through homeownership. Provide incentives to develop vacant land and build thriving small business districts. Reimagine the school day starting with full-day education for 3-year-olds. Increase funding for after-school programs. Be intentional about changing the food desert reality that neighborhoods face. Invest in a massive mentorship program tying in our first responders.
There are many more serious solutions that we must implement if we want to tackle this problem, but it takes the right leader with an understanding that growing up in Massillon, Ohio, or with privilege just can’t teach you.
Ja’Mal Green, former mayoral candidate
I just read Tim Norman’s letter in defense of Postmaster Louis DeJoy. I’m glad there is a plan for the future success of the post office.
However, I’m more concerned about the present disaster of the U.S. mail. I would like Norman to explain how eliminating overtime, banning late delivery trips, removing mailboxes and destroying high-speed sorting machines helps mail delivery.
Norman didn’t mention DeJoy’s ethics issues or his main qualification as a major donor to former president Donald Trump. Most importantly, I’d like Norman to explain how I have not had a mail delivery in over 10 days. Perhaps instead of wasting time defending Louis DeJoy, he can deliver my mail that’s been sitting in one of our postal facilities.
Bob Blitstein, Lakeview