In a blog item posted earlier this month, I called for the creation of a Chicago museum of the performing arts in the Randolph Street Theatre District–a venue for exhibitions and archives documenting the city’s vibrant theater and dance scene, as well as for performances and other public programs.
The item generated vigorous and wide-ranging response, and a lot of people seem interested in the idea. Actress Jacqueline Williams suggested the formation of a committee to meet with the Department of Cultural Affairs. Producer Don Hall recommended working with the city to expand and update the current collection of theater memorabilia housed in the Chicago Public Library’s special collections division. Actor-writer Tim Kazurinsky noted the idea’s political implications: “If I was on the Olympic Games selection committee, I’d want the games in a city that had a Performing Arts Museum.” Scenic designer Jason Epperson offered to coordinate “a meeting of the minds,” inviting interested parties to contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The discussion drew attention two relevant Web sites: the Chicago Theater Database, created by local actor Dan Granata, and Valparaiso University professor Arvid Sponberg’s Chicago Theatre History Project. These sites could serve as valuable online resources on Chicago theater. Check them out! But a city with our rich history and flourishing activity deserves a real, physical, accessible showcase for the performing arts.
Any more thoughts on how to move things forward?