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How to access arts and culture during COVID-19

Posted  4 years ago  in  Trending, Arts and Culture

11 MIN READ – While Chicagoans continue to avoid large gatherings to slow the spread of COVID-19, it is clear that while physical distancing is necessary, social connection is more important than ever. Access to the arts is paramount to feeling connected to one another; luckily, some of the most beloved arts institutions in the Loop can still be enjoyed in creative, safe ways. Learn more about how you can access your favorite dance organizations, film institutions, museums, music and theatres, and the visual arts, and how you can support these organizations.


A&A Ballet Center for Dance

A&A Ballet is devoted to training in strong, versatile dance technique, as well as the development of personality, independence, and artistry in young dancers. Online classes are open to current A&A Ballet students, and guest students are welcome to participate at a rate of $15 per class. Private class sessions are available upon request. Learn more.

Donate here.

Ensemble Español Spanish Dance Theatre

Ensemble Español presents, preserves, and promotes the Flamenco, a classical, folkloric, and contemporary dance and music tradition of Spain. Ensemble Español, which includes 40 dancers, singers, and musicians, tours nationally and internationally, provides extensive arts education to young students, maintains a pre-professional training academy, offers university-level dance courses for college credit, and conducts a wide range of community outreach programs and classes.

Donate here.

The Joffrey Ballet

Joffrey Ballet is introducing email subscribers to the people who bring their talent to the Joffrey stage each day. They will inspire you with the joy that makes their organization tick seamlessly. This is their campaign to keep the hope in life strong and uninterrupted. Sign up for email updates at the bottom of their home page. And as of September 8, company artists and students returned to Joffrey Tower for the first time since March, marking a milestone moment in the Company’s eventual return to the stage. The studios look a bit different, but the enthusiasm never left. New safety protocols and social distancing measures have the Joffrey looking forward and dancing with care.

Donate here.

See Chicago Dance

See Chicago is a non-profit service organization whose mission is to build and engage dance audiences in Chicago and advocate for Chicago dance. Amid COVID-19, See Chicago Dance has a wealth of virtual resources and videos on its website. See Chicago Dance provides more than 200 resident dance companies with increased visibility, expansive resources, and forums to showcase and share talents. The organization also hosts professional development workshops for artists, convenes the dance industry for quarterly networking and shared learning opportunities, and hosts numerous events, artist discussions, and showings to engage and inform the public about Chicago's vibrant and diverse dance scene.

Donate here.


Gene Siskel Film Center

The Gene Siskel Film Center is presenting the streaming series Film Center from Your Sofa: Stay Connected and Stream with Us, in an effort to showcase new and noteworthy independent, international, and classic cinema provided by longtime partnering distributors. As films are coming from multiple sources, streaming prices will vary from film to film. All proceeds during this challenging time will help the Film Center and partnering distributors to continue operating.

Patrons are encouraged to utilize the Film Center’s Facebook events to express their thoughts, insights, and questions. Also in the works are some virtual discussions moderated by respected film critics, filmmakers, and lecturers to the conversation can be continued together. November is also Black Harvest Film Festival month, spotlighting shorts and features about the Black experience. Learn more.

Donate here.


Museums are reopened with strict guidelines in place. If you’re itching to get a dose of arts and culture, mask up and find out which museums are now open downtown in the Loop.

Music and Theatres

Auditorium Theatre

The Auditorium Theatre will be hosting weekly "At Home with the Auditorium" performances every Sunday at 6 p.m. on Facebook Live.

Additionally, the Auditorium is encouraging its patrons to remember fonder times at the theatre by using the hashtag #AudMemories, which they'll then compile and use on their website and social media. You can keep up with all of these activities through their special weekly newsletter, Keeping Up with the Auditorium, by signing up here.

Donate here.

Chicago Symphony Orchestra

The Chicago Symphony Orchestra's 2020 season has gone completely digital, available on their new platform, CSOtv. Sounds of Celebration: An Evening at Home with the CSO serves as a fundraiser for the 2020/21 season, with special appearances by Yo-Yo Ma and more. 

Connect with CSO at Home with a variety of digital content. Additionally, check out CSO Radio for broadcasts of past CSO concerts, and the CSO’s YouTube channel for the complete video archive. And keep up-to-date with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra with their multimedia blog, CSO Sounds & Stories. Founded in 1891, the Chicago Symphony Orchestra is consistently hailed as one of the greatest orchestras in the world. 

Donate here.

Chicago Youth Symphony Orchestras

Chicago Youth Symphony Orchestras (CYSO) has provided music education through orchestral programs and performance opportunities of the highest caliber since 1946. In June, CYSO celebrated the end of the 2019-2020 season with CYSO Week—a 5-night virtual celebration with virtual orchestra performances, student interviews, and so much more. Catch up on every moment of the week online now.

Donate here.

Goodman Theatre

Stay connected to Goodman Theatre with Intermission: A Weekly Goodman Update, and catch Fannie Lou Hamer, Speak On It in various Chicago parks. Or purchase a subscription for their upcoming 2021 season

In collaboration with the Chicago Park District, Goodman Theatre presents Cheryl L. West’s exhilarating Fannie Lou Hamer, Speak on It!, a freeabridged version of West’s play Fannierecently announced as part of the 2021 Season—in the community and parks for three weeks, with an encore performance at DuSable Museum on October 8. Featuring Chicago actor and singer, E. Faye Butler, this electrifying call to action is inspired by the life of famed civil and voting rights activist Fannie Lou Hamer—and uses storytelling and music to remind us there's courage in the face of fire, hope in tomorrow and that we all have a stake in our country. Purchase here.

Donate now.

Grant Park Music Festival

The Grant Park Music Festival, which typically offers 10 weeks of classical music in Millennium Park’s Jay Pritzker Pavilion, has been cancelled this year. But, the music program has adapted with great virtual offerings, and the festival still needs donations to succeed in upcoming seasons.

Donate now.

Lyric Opera of Chicago

Lyric Opera of Chicago was forced to cut its 2019-20 season short and cancel its fall 2020 performances, but opera lovers can rejoice in some fantastic online content. The Lyric loves Broadway page features all of the content from the Lyric's Broadway productions over the years. Listen to Lyric performer, Jessica Meyer's piece, "Excessive Use of Force," in response to the recent upheaval of racial violence and injusticeKeep your youngsters entertained with Lyric’s children’s activity booklet and coloring pages. Try out some new scenery with Lyric's Zoom backgrounds. Enjoy ROC From Home, updated weekly and featuring recorded videos, blog posts, and day-in-the-life updates from Lyric’s Ryan Opera Center Ensemble. Bring the wonderful world of opera into your home with Lyric Spotify playlists. Have some fun making themed cocktails with the Tosca Lyric Libations blog. And test your knowledge of Lyric’s history with the Lyric Trivia blog. If you’d like to stay up-to-date on new opportunities to engage with Lyric Opera virtually, check up on their Lyric Lately blog, learning resources, and sign up for their newsletter at the bottom of their homepage.

Donate here.

Manifest Urban Arts Festival

Manifest Urban Arts Festival is Columbia College Chicago’s annual, student driven event that showcases the culmination of graduating student work.

Throughout history, music has always reflected cultural change and societal shifts. In response to “shelter in place,” the Columbia College Music department, using cutting edge technology, created over 20 videos featuring all of their ensembles with student musicians, which range in style from R&B, pop rock, gospel, Latin, jazz, and hip hop. There was also a live panel discussion on “Creating an Online Performance,” which included Sebastian Huydts, chair of the Music department, and other faculty and students who were involved in the process of creating these videos.

The music department has had great live performances in the past, featuring world class musicians like Cory Henry, Isaiah Sharkey, Lisa Fischer, and Todd Rundrgen performing with students. This year presented an incredible opportunity to share students’ music with far more people, so tune in and enjoy the show!

Learn more.

Porchlight Music Theatre

Check out Porchlight Music Theatre's website for fun virtual content like "Movie Musical Monday" Zoom parties. Porchlight Music Theatre is known for its bold, edgy, and intimate music theatre, offering audiences the drama, song, and dance “up close” with Chicago and Broadway’s brightest music theatre talent. For more than two decades, Porchlight Music Theatre has earned a growing and die-hard audience base, as well as national critical acclaim.

Donate here.

Silk Road Rising

Silk Road Rising is a community-centered art-making and arts service organization rooted in Asian, Middle Eastern, and Muslim experiences. Silk Road Rising offers a digital library of video plays, documentaries, and animated shorts to create spaces for deep conversation between and among groups, facilitated by experts in culture and mediation and centered around a screening of one of Silk Road Rising’s digital works. Learn more and explore their selection online.

Donate here.

Windy City Playhouse

Windy City Playhouse is a burgeoning non-profit theater that produces critically-acclaimed shows. Premiering in March of 2015 with a mission to present contemporary, relevant, and approachable art, Windy City Playhouse has quickly become a mainstay of the Chicago theater scene. In January 2019, Windy City Playhouse South opened in the South Loop’s Motor Row district. The mission of the Playhouse is to entertain even those who seldom attend theater through exceptional, boundary-pushing works. With each immersive show the Playhouse produces, the organized lines between audience and actor fade, bringing you closer to the action.

Donate here.

Visual Arts

Fine Arts Building Studios

Fine Arts Building Studios is a collective made up of visual artists, musicians, performers, booking agents, yoga studios, dance instructors, voice coaches, architects, designers, and musical instrument makers located in Chicago’s historic Fine Arts Building.

Donate here.

Green Star Movement

Green Star Movement has paused all mural projects and mosaic classes during the COVID-19 pandemic. But they have created a Merchandise page featuring new ways that our community and followers can support the organization during this difficult time. Check out the new merchandise provided by CLOZTALK, support them through Amazon Smile, and purchase their coloring book and holiday cards or a DIY mosaic kit to dabble in your own creative world. 

Donate here.


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