Dance as a Learning Platform

Hubbard Street Dance Chicago

Funding Received: 2012
Chicago, IL
Funding Period: 1 year and 5 months
October 26, 2012

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 Jason Palmquist, Executive Director of Hubbard Street, about the project.

ARTPLACE: Who outside your organization has been key to your ability to move your initiative forward?

PALMQUIST: Our ArtPlace project, Dance as a Learning Platform, completely relies on good partnerships. Several of our partners, including ClearSpace and Strategos (leadership development and innovation consultants respectively) as well as HMS Media, are long-time collaborators. We began this project with a clear articulation of their contribution, and they’ve been exceeding every expectation.

Less certain was our new partnership, with 1871 itself and the Chicagoland Entrepreneurial Center. I first met Kevin Willer, CEO of the CEC, in the Emerging Leaders program of the Chicago Council on Global Affairs. At the time, Kevin was the head of Google’s Chicago office. At our first meeting, we discussed the challenges of running a non-profit – and the differences between working for an arts organization and working for one of the world’s largest technology companies. A year later, Kevin was running his own non-profit organization and was heavily involved in the planning for a new place for digital startups – which eventually became 1871.

When we first created the plan for using dance as a learning platform for the startups at 1871, the facility had not yet been publicly announced – and no one was quite sure how it would work once it was up and running. 1871 opened for business on May 2, 2012, and less than five months later, Hubbard Street had its first performance there as the result of the ArtPlace grant. It’s been a whirlwind, but the cooperation of the entire staff of the CEC as well as the 1871 community has been incredible.

ARTPLACE: Are there secrets to good partnerships?

PALMQUIST: At Hubbard Street, we find fundamental value in fostering an environment for creativity, collaboration and innovation. We try to bring that same value to all of our partnerships, whether it be our long-standing collaboration with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, ourfour-year (and running) residency at the Art Institute of Chicago, or our newly conceived collaboration with Alonzo King and LINES Ballet (the two companies recently spent three weeks at the University of California at Irvine creating a new work that will be performed together this Spring.) The simple premise that diverse voices, working in collaboration, makes our art better is at the heart of everything we do.