Goodman Theatre has announced the completed expansion of its Alice Rapoport Center for Education and Engagement—a state-of-the-art, LEED-certified, 10,000 square-foot community arts center in the heart of downtown Chicago, accessible within the Goodman facility. Designed by Wheeler Kearns Architects with Lead Architect Chris-Annemarie Spencer, the Alice Center is the new home for the Goodman’s myriad programs for youth, educators and lifelong learners. Newly-opened spaces—including Northern Trust Lab and Efroymson and Hamid Family Lobby—join the Clifford Family Lobby, Roger and Julie Baskes Rotunda, Walter Family Foundation Lab and Pritzker Foundation I.T. Hub in the theater’s home campus. Prince Charitable Trusts/Patrick and Meredith Wood Prince are the Supporters of LEED Certification in the Alice. Chicago civic leader Michael Sachs named the Center in honor of his late wife, Alice B. Rapoport—a Goodman Trustee and 15-year champion of the theater’s Education and Engagement outreach efforts.
"As Chair of the Goodman Board of Trustees, I could not be more proud than to see the completion of the Alice Rapoport Center for Education and Engagement,” said David Fox, President, Global Family and Private Investment Offices of Northern Trust. “Northern Trust has been a dedicated supporter of the Goodman for more than three decades, with a focus on community and education. We are very pleased to have supported this project, and to name a space that will be so well utilized by those who participate in the Goodman's programs. It also gives me great pleasure to acknowledge my predecessor, Immediate Past Chair Joan Clifford, who led the fundraising campaign to build the Alice Center. All of us at the Goodman are grateful for her leadership, and also for the generosity of her and her husband, Robert Clifford, and the generosity of all the donors to this campaign."
Audiences were introduced to the Alice Center this past weekend with a free discussion in conjunction with Robert Falls’ production of An Enemy of the People.
The Alice Center launches the next phase in the Goodman’s decades-long commitment to using its art towards a better Chicago. All of the programs for youth, educators and lifelong learners are funded by contributions from corporations, foundations and individuals, offered year-round and free of charge. An estimated eighty-five percent of the Goodman’s youth program participants come from underserved communities.
“Of our many achievements, on stage and off, none is more important to me than the tremendous impact the Goodman has made through our Education and Engagement programs,” said Artistic Director Robert Falls. “Under the leadership of artist, educator and activist Willa J. Taylor, these experiential and training opportunities flourish.”
Taylor and her team aim to build models of innovative artist/community partnerships to better understand how arts and culture can contribute to community problem-solving and growth—from violence prevention to the quality of schools.
“We subscribe to the idea of arts as education—using the tools of our profession to develop generations of citizens who understand the cultures and stories of diverse voices,” said Walter Director of Education and Engagement Willa J. Taylor. “In partnership with schools, our focus on professional development with teachers hones their abilities to activate student learning. With both adults and youth, our exploration of authentic voice leads to conversations about identity and commonalities in shared experience.”
New partnerships the Alice Center enables include “Disney Musicals in Schools” (DMIS), an outreach initiative developed by Disney Theatrical Productions to create sustainable theater programs in under-resourced elementary schools. The Goodman partners with five Chicago public elementary schools, who receive performance rights to a Disney musical of their choice, at no cost.
In addition, the Alice Center allows the Goodman to deepen and expand existing programming—such as Stage Chemistry, the Goodman’s STEM standards-based curriculum; Musical Theater Intensive, a summer skills development program for the “Broadway starts of tomorrow;” GeNarrations, an adult personal narrative performance piece program; and its flagship School Matinee Series.
“Envisioned as a space that quietly underscores the natural world in the heart of the city, the design of the Alice Center supports artistic development by giving users license to explore, expand and empower through the transformative processes of the theater arts,” said Lead Architect Chris-Annemarie Spencer of Wheeler Kearns Architects. “A modern aesthetic and neutral palette—reflective of Alice Rapoport’s connection to nature and love for the outdoors—allows theatrical activity to color the spaces.”
To learn more about the Alice Rapoport Center for Education and Engagement at Goodman Theatre, visit goodmantheatre.org.
Entrance to the Goodman Theatre Alice Rapoport Center for Education and Engagement (photo courtesy of Goodman Theatre).
Clef Notes Chicagoland Journal for the Arts