J'Sun Howard and Brother(hood) Dance! Credit: Courtesy Links Hall

Giving artists a place to experiment and refine their craft is at the core of Links Hall’s mission, and the organization likewise recognizes the value of dialogue between different artists and audiences. In the past, Links has annually spotlighted a noteworthy work from a local artist who chooses an out-of-town creator for a shared presentation at Links Hall that then travels to the visitor’s homework.

This tradition expands considerably with Trade Routes, which features five different pairings put together for a festival running from November 30 to December 9. “This way the locals and out-of-towners would be able to see more of each other’s work and Chicago audiences could see work from all over the city and all over the country in one ten-day period,” says Links Hall director Roell Schmidt. Some of these pairings include dance maker and poet J’Sun Howard with New York City’s Brother(hood) Dance! and Myra Su with Cincinnati’s Emily Schubert, two multimedia puppet storytellers who met at last year’s National Puppet Slam in Atlanta.

“Links is a launch pad and an incubator, and a lot of our audience are coming out to support artists they know,” says Schmidt. “What is your work communicating to a group of complete strangers in another city? What can you learn from them, and what can they learn from you? If we want to break down these huge divisions within our city, our state, our country, we need to get personal with each other. Happily, all the art that happens here is personal, so it’s just a matter of overcoming the geography.”

Trade Routes: A Festival of Artistic Exchange 11/30-12/9: Thu-Mon 7 PM; also Fri 12/8-Sat 12/9, 9 PM, Links Hall at Constellation, 3111 N. Western, 773-281-0824, linkshall.org, $12 online, $15 at the door, $10 students and seniors, $40 festival pass.