Inside Out at the Art Institute of Chicago

Using dance as a learning platform for business, Hubbard Street Dance Chicago is collaborating with more than 60 tech startups inhabiting 1871, a newly created co-working space in Chicago’s Merchandise Mart.

ArtPlace spoke with Glenn Edgerton, Artistic Director of Hubbard Street Dance Chicago, about the project.

ARTPLACE: What do you have to do really (really) well to achieve success with your initiative?

EDGERTON: Digital startups have a steep learning curve, and the entrepreneurs who begin these companies are singularly focused on building a successful business. An obvious question will be, “Where does contemporary dance fit in?”

We need to be deeply relevant to the creation of these businesses from Day One. We believe there are valuable lessons to be learned from dance concerning leadership, innovation, collaboration, and growth, among others. All are vital for tech startups, so we’ve partnered with leadership development experts from ClearSpace LLC as well as the innovation consultants at Strategos to design each of our learning experiences. Working with the Chicagoland Entrepreneurial Center, we’ve assembled a focus group of 1871 members to help guide the development of our programs. Most importantly, the wonderful artists of Hubbard Street are bringing their passion to the project. Ultimately, we need to create experiences that provide immediately usable skills for these companies.

ARTPLACE: How do you expect the community to change as a result?

EDGERTON: We’re looking forward to experiencing both the tangible and intangible results of our work. After each of our programs at 1871, we want these entrepreneurs to walk away with core learning that helps them build their companies. But education is only half of the equation. 1871 was also created to inspire – and the site-specific work we’re doing will give the inhabitants of 1871 a completely new way of looking at this space. We expect better businesses to be built as a result.

We also have longer term goals in mind. We want the entrepreneurs of 1871 to develop an appreciation for contemporary dance as an art form. We want them to understand, on a fundamental level, the ways in which the arts can increase the vibrancy of a place, and we want them to weave the arts (and support for the arts) into the foundations of their businesses. We also want to make lifelong fans, so we’ve created a variety of experiences including several opportunities for members of 1871 to see Hubbard Street in performance – at both the Harris Theater for Music and Dance in Millennium Park and at the Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago. Membership, as they say, has its privileges.

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