Diversity and collaboration - do I make it look easy?

This company is - and always has been - a diverse collection of collaborative, talented artists. Our commitment to diversity involves purposeful decisions at every step - from recruiting artists, to building partnerships with other organizations, to creating a season that takes us on a "tour" of our city - Chicago.

This commitment to diversity is a beautiful challenge, and as Artistic Director I must walk the walk AND keep everyone else walking along with me. This work requires more than just the skills of the trade. We seek artists that transcend the regular job description for a musician or dancer, choreographer or composer. I have honest conversations with each artist about their vision and the company's ethos. Our leading artists must be willing to create work true to themselves but possibly brought to life by people who come from different places - literally and figuratively.

I sometimes get offered the well meaning comment that it would be easier to solely run a dance or music ensemble. True, it isn't easy to come up with a great concept for a new work of multidisciplinary art. It's harder still to stay strong in your artistic intention while benefiting from the input of other artists. This is a lofty goal we set every year, and I think we usually get there.

But I think all this hard work is worth it. I know that - just like a muscle - an artistic concept is stronger after it is worked, in this case thoroughly explored by a company of deeply engaged artists. A concept that undergoes scrutiny, that is brought to life by a diverse group of people, gains truth and resonance. Our audiences count on us for art work like that.

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