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TimeLine Theatre Receives $600K MacArthur Grant

By Josh McGhee | February 24, 2016 6:54am
 The theater company received the MacArthur Award for Creative and Effective institutions.
The theater company received the MacArthur Award for Creative and Effective institutions.
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CHICAGO — Last week, the TimeLine Theatre was one of 14 Chicago nonprofit arts programs to receive at least a six-figure grant from the MacArthur Foundation.

The theater company received the MacArthur Award for Creative and Effective institutions, which recognizes "exceptional nonprofit organizations that have demonstrated creativity and impact." The award comes with $625,000 grant to "invest in their long-term sustainability," according to a news release from the theater.

“Since our founding, TimeLine has sought every day to fulfill our unique mission and to continue the legacy of Chicago theater companies that started small, dreamed big and matured into prominent organizations that enrich the cultural landscape of the city,” said PJ Powers, the company's Artistic Director.

“To receive this award from the MacArthur Foundation is an extraordinary acknowledgment that we are succeeding in that goal, and provides invaluable financial support as TimeLine embarks upon ambitious plans for our future," Powers said.

TimeLine Theatre currently rents space at 615 W. Wellington Ave., while also performing at Stage 773, 1225 W. Belmont Ave., but plans to move all performances to the former site of Lyman Trumbull Elementary School in Andersonville. The theater company will occupy the first floor of the building, where it will have: two performance bases (one with seating for 200 and another with seating for 100); rehearsal space; offices and attention-grabbing lobby with "immersive exhibits"; and art installations coinciding with their productions.

“This is a significant moment in TimeLine’s history,” said Elizabeth Auman, the theater's Managing Director. “As we prepare for our 20th Anniversary season and continue to plan for a new home, this award gives us enormous encouragement and the ability to move forward in a much more secure way.”

In total, the MacArthur Foundation awarded $6.5 million to Chicago's arts and culture community "to strengthen the city's vibrant cultural life" and to show the foundation's "commitment to its hometown." The organization gives $200,000 to $1 million grants to nonprofits each year," a news release from the foundation said.

“Chicago’s arts community is vibrant and economically vital to the region. Support for these leading organizations reflects our enduring commitment to Chicago and to its cultural life that enriches us all,” said Julia Stasch, President of the MacArthur Foundation.

TimeLine Theatre was founded in 1997 with a mission to tell stories "inspired by history" connecting with current political and social issues. Over 19 seasons, its plays have tackled issues such as: the AIDS epidemic, the Vietnam War, financial scandals and Chicago Police torture, the release said.

The theater's Living History Education Program, which began in 2006, has brought history and theater education to over 5,000 Chicago Public School students. The arts integration program's curriculum "is designed to teach theatre skills while fostering the capacity to think creatively, make connections, and understand history and the world at large," the release said.

A portion of the funds, which TimeLine's Board President John Sirek called "truly humbling," will be used to upgrade the company's technology infrastructure. The majority of the funds will go to a reserve fund "to provide additional long-term financial stability and support strategic goals," the company said.

“Running a mid-size arts organization is challenging. Making it thrive even more so. These funds will help TimeLine continue to build upon its already solid foundation while taking our art and organization to the next level," said Sirek.

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