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By Cara Jepsen

3 FRIDAY Recently two of my friends injured themselves onstage: one lost a tooth and the other threw out his back, requiring surgery. It’s not that they’re clumsy, say the folks at the Arts-Medicine Project at UIC’s School of Public Health–arts workers are at special risk for work-related injuries. To raise awareness of the hazards of a life in art, they’re sponsoring this weekend’s Health in the Arts conference, which is aimed at musicians, dancers, actors, visual artists, museum workers, and stage workers as well as administrators and others interested in their safety. It starts tonight at 5 in the ballroom at the School of the Art Institute (112 S. Michigan) with a free reception that includes food, music, and a panel discussion. Tomorrow’s conference is $30 ($15 for artists and students) and takes place from 9 to 5 at UIC’s Chicago Illini Union, 828 S. Wolcott. Call 312-996-6904 for more.

4 SATURDAY Some seven million migratory birds lay over in Chicago on their way south each year, and one of their favorite stopping points is the Lincoln Park Bird Sanctuary. Today’s free Vote for the Planet festival will examine the links between Chicago and the South American rain forest and the environment’s relation to science, art, politics, and spirituality. There will also be food, body work, and booths representing groups such as the Nature Conservancy. The festival starts at 1:30 and will be followed at 2:30 by a two-hour show with performances by Ed Tossing, Chris Garbrecht, Kirsten Gustafson, Charles Brown, the Joyful Noise Gospel Choir, and the Unity Puppet Players. It’s all at Unity Church in Chicago, 1925 W. Thome. The $10 admission to the show benefits the Lincoln Park Bird Sanctuary and the Audubon Society’s rain forest program. For information, call 773-271-0986 or 773-973-0007.

5 SUNDAY Only 48.8 percent of the U.S. voting-age population participated in the 1996 presidential election. The other 51.2 percent can be parsed into six categories–“doers,” “unpluggeds,” “irritables,” “don’t knows,” “alienateds,” and “can’t shows,” say Ellen Shearer and Jack Doppelt in their 1999 book, Nonvoters: America’s No-Shows. The last group, made up primarily of legal immigrants and convicted felons, is the only one with a legitimate excuse. The other five types will be the focus of today’s Humanities Festival panel, Why Don’t Americans Vote? Shearer, who codirects the Medill School of Journalism’s Washington, D.C., program, will be joined by Chicago Reporter editor and publisher Laura Washington, former Clinton policy adviser Rahm Emanuel, and Joyce Foundation vice president Lawrence N. Hansen. Ken Bode, the dean at Medill, will moderate. It’s at 3:30 at the Chicago Historical Society, 1601 N. Clark. Tickets are $6. Call 312-661-1028, ext. 32, for more.

Since opening night always draws a sellout crowd, the annual Dance Chicago festival has added a second performance of its first program–a sampling of various offerings from the five-week extravaganza. The roster includes performances by Deeply Rooted Productions, the Roudnev Ballet of Chicago, Julia Rhoads, Melissa Thodos & Dancers, Gregory Day and Tommye Giacchino, Cerqua Rivera Art Experience, Randy Duncan, Hubbard Street 2, Gus Giordano Jazz Dance Chicago, Jump Rhythm Jazz Project, the Joel Hall Dancers, and the Joffrey Ballet of Chicago. Performances are Saturday night at 8 (which also features an appearance by the Trinity Irish Dance Company) and today at 3 (which includes the Muntu Dance Theatre of Chicago) at the Athenaeum Theatre, 2936 N. Southport. Tickets are $18; call 773-935-6860.

6 MONDAY The title of David Drake’s 1992 Obie-winning one-man play, The Night Larry Kramer Kissed Me, refers not to a romantic tryst with greatness but rather to the night Drake saw Kramer’s play The Normal Heart, which he says opened his eyes and gave him a “kiss” of pride. Tim Kirkman’s 1999 film based on Drake’s play will be screened tonight at 7 at the Music Box, 3733 N. Southport, as part of Reeling 2000: The 20th Chicago Lesbian and Gay International Film Festival. Tickets are $7.50. After the film, at 8:30, a free discussion on The State of Gay Theater in Chicago will be held a few doors down at the Mercury Theater, 3745 N. Southport. Panelists include director Shifra Werch, playwright David Dillon, actor Benjamin Sprunger, set designer Rick Paul, theater critics Jonathan Abarbanel and Reader contributor Lawrence Bommer, A Real Read’s Byron S. Stewart, and About Face Theater’s Eric Rosen. Call 312-409-3191.

7 TUESDAY Can he pull through? Will Ralph Nader win 5 percent of the vote and secure public funding for the Greens’ next presidential campaign? His sup-porters are optimistic; they’ve planned a victory party tonight at HotHouse, where they’ll serve light snacks and watch the election returns on TVs set up in the club’s gallery area. Green Party campaign workers are expected to report in from around town after the polls close. The alt-pop bands Volcano the Bear and Bablicon will play in the bar. It starts at 7 at 31 E. Balbo. Admission is $4 or a price deter-mined by rolling a six-sided die. Call 312-362-9707 for more.

8 WEDNESDAY Altars aren’t just for churches anymore, say the organizers of Columbia College’s current Altering Altars exhibit. Nontraditional objects of worship can be found on desks, dashboards, and, in the case of one artistic effort, a public telephone. The exhibit runs through November 21; tonight at 6 students and faculty present a related Day of the Dead-themed show that includes film, video, and spoken-word performances. The exhibit and show are at Columbia’s Hokin Center, 623 S. Wabash (312-344-7696); they’re both free.

9 THURSDAY The city’s stock of affordable rental housing is disappearing faster than you can say “stunning new construction,” says the Chicago Rehab Network. Today, Cook County assessor James Houlihan speaks to the group on Valuing Affordable Housing and Property Taxes. Among the topics on the agenda are the city’s program of low-interest home loans for long-term residents of gentrifying neighborhoods and property tax breaks for developers of nonprofit multifamily housing. “That could be what it would take to create more affordable housing in the city,” says a spokesperson for the network, which represents such community-based nonprofits as Lakefront SRO and Deborah’s Place. Houlihan’s talk will be followed by a discussion. It takes place from 8:30 to noon in the Wabash Room of the Palmer House Hilton, 17 E. Monroe. It’s free; reservations are recommended (312-803-1312).

Five corporations account for 80 percent of book sales in the U.S. Such consolidation poses a threat to the marketplace of ideas, especially when most smaller presses lack access to major distribution and publicity channels, argues Andre Schiffrin, author of The Business of Books: How the International Conglomerates Took Over Publishing and Changed the Way We Read. Schiffrin, who for 30 years was the publisher at Pantheon Books and now directs the New Press, will discuss four decades of changes in the publishing industry tonight at 7 at 57th Street Books, 1301 E. 57th. It’s free; call 773-684-1300.