Hubbard Street Dancers Left to Right: Lissa Smith, Emilie Leriche, Alicia Delgadillo, Katie Kozul and Felicia McBride

Hubbard Street Dancers Left to Right: Lissa Smith, Emilie Leriche, Alicia Delgadillo, Katie Kozul and Felicia McBride

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 Kalena Dickerson, Associate Director of Development for Hubbard Street, about the project.

ARTPLACE:  How will the work you’ve begun be sustained after your ArtPlace grant?  Have new options for sustainability emerged during the grant period, and will this work live beyond the grant period?

DICKERSON:  Dance as a Learning Platform and our work at 1871 was originally conceived to provide new revenue streams (both earned and contributed) for Hubbard Street.  The grant from ArtPlace was an incredible catalyst, which allowed us to fully develop the program and curriculum.  We will also have tangible evidence of the merits of dance as a platform for business learning through a series of videos that we created in partnership with HMS Media.

We recently received funding from the Albert Pick, Jr. Fund to take the project beyond the bounds of 1871 to the business community at large.  We’re currently in the process of developing marketing materials and a plan to roll out a broader effort, once the residency at 1871 is complete.  Although, I must admit that I use the word “complete” loosely.  A “one-time-only collaboration” between the Chicago Symphony Orchestra and Hubbard Street is now in its 10th year, and our “one-year residency” at the Art Institute is about to celebrate its 4th Anniversary.  I imagine we’ll continue to have an ongoing presence at 1871 – perhaps with a little less intensity moving forward.

We believe our work with businesses will eventually become self-sustaining and may even provide Hubbard Street with surplus revenue that can be invested in other aspects of the organization.  At the same time, we’ve begun to incorporate a number of key learning concepts into our other work in the community.  Just last month, I spent a morning observing our teaching artists working with 5th grade students on concepts of leadership in a classroom in Oak Park.  That evening, HS2 was working with entrepreneurs at 1871 in a similar way.  It was fantastic to see “lifelong learning” in action.

ARTPLACE:  How has Dance as Learning Platform affected the work Hubbard Street plans to do beyond the ArtPlace grant period?

DICKERSON:  Concepts of creative placemaking have rapidly become part of our daily conversations at Hubbard Street.  In fact, we’ve just submitted a first proposal for funding of a new initiative that we hope will ultimately expand our audience, but begins with “place.”  Hubbard Street’s home in the West Loop is surrounded by several wonderfully interesting neighborhoods.  We wonder what might happen if (as an internationally acclaimed contemporary dance company and beloved Chicago institution) we concentrated our community engagement efforts on those people who live, work, and go to school and events within walking distance of the Hubbard Street Dance Center.  We’re excited to find out.

Hubbard Street Dancers Left to Right: Lissa Smith, Emilie Leriche, Alicia Delgadillo, Katie Kozul and Felicia McBride

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