Links Hall is supporting artists. Right now.
Like all arts organizations reckoning with the multiple pandemics of COVID-19, racism, state violence, economic downturn, and an anxiety-filled election season (please vote!), Links has taken a critical look at what is most important–our mission. Ours declares that we encourage artistic innovation and public engagement by maintaining a facility and providing flexible programming for the research, development, and presentation of new work in the performing arts.
What does that mean exactly? How do we do the work when there are no live audiences?
What we know for certain is that we must deepen and expand support of emerging and early-career artists–right now–when access to studio space, equitable pay for creative work, and community connection has been dramatically reduced on a local, national, and global scale.
So, what are we going to do about it? For a start, Links is increasing the number of annual Co-MISSION Residencies from four to six artists, nearly tripling our total budget for Resident Artists fees, and providing “no-strings-attached” cash awards to two additional artists to develop new projects. We are continuing to commission artists of color and women, as well as queer, trans, and nonbinary artists.
This fall, Links is returning to limited operations and re-opening our doors for artists-in-residence. It’s amazing to bring life, breath, movement, and imagination into our building once again. This winter, you’ll be able to meet the residents “behind the screens” to learn more about their creative process in a series of virtual, audience engagement programs. The month of May brings six premieres during a two-week Festival of New Works; and next summer, we hope to connect again with 2020 Co-MISSION artists Darling Shear and Chloe Johnston whose Fellowship projects were covid-delayed but not forgotten.
More immediately, we have been thinking about new ways to bring you new art:
- We joined forces with Rough House Theater to transform puppet cabaret Nasty, Brutish & Short into a live-stream experience. With four virtual cabarets already under our belts, we can promise these evenings are joyful, intimate, rowdy, surprising, provocative, and always visually stunning, I recommend you check out the next show on December 7.
- On November 13 & 14, we invited Asian Improv aRts Midwest and curator Rika Lin to reimagine the annual Bridge Dance Festival in a virtual format. Freed from the confines of travel and tour logistics, the 2020 festival brings together 5 artists from 2 continents, with livestreamed performances and dance films from Chicago, Tokyo, and Kobe.
- From November 6-8, we are delighted to be producing a virtual edition of the international Arab Dance Seminar, hosted by Chicago-based dancer, musician, and educator Karim Nagi. This year’s Seminar sold out within 24 hours, back in January; but we encourage you to join the mailing list for info on the 2021 event.
- For those interested in virtual work, we’ve installed multicamera and livestream systems in our white box studio, so artists can safely connect with creative collaborators, audiences, presenters while tours and live events are grounded. You can learn more about other public safety measures we’re taking for Links artists, staff, and technicians on our website.
We have more surprises in store for winter and spring, including a special announcement about Hamid Drake and Michael Zerang’s 30th Anniversary Winter Solstice Concert on December 21st. Solstice concerts will look different than previous years, when 100 bodies tucked into Links Hall for three consecutive mornings of cozy reverie. One thing’s for certain… After the long and dark days of 2020, we will drum up the light together.