Harris Theater for Music and Dance celebrated the opening night of their fifth anniversary season to great fanfare last week, hosting a gala on Thursday night in Millennium Park to kick off their week-long engagement with the San Francisco Ballet while raising nearly $1.4 million to benefit the theater.
We absolutely love the Harris Theater. It’s a beautiful venue in a great location, and the 2008/2009 season includes some great international artists. We also admire the theater’s central mission and focus: to give a performing platform to some of Chicago’s emerging and mid-sized non-profit performing arts companies – like Chicago Opera Theater, Old Town School of Folk Music and Luna Negra Dance Theater – by offering affordable rent and providing marketing, box office, front-of-house, and technical services for free. Which is why we think the success of last week’s gala is great news; we know the non-profit theater depends on the philanthropy of the community for half of its annual operating budget.
The theater had turbulent beginnings. Aging philanthropist Irving B. Harris had to orchestrate a $24 million construction loan to even get the project on track; many didn’t think the downtown area needed another performance venue, and funding was lagging. Now, five years after its inauguration in 2003, the theater has already begun to cement its role as one of the city’s major performance venues, featuring some of the most diverse local and international talent, and is only continuing to grow.
"The theater now has a record of achievement far in excess of what either of us expected," [Irving’s] wife, Joan, said in an interview earlier this week. "We've maintained our commitment to the local groups, and we're presenting world-class performances. My only regret is that Irving isn't here to see and enjoy all the promise."
In celebration of its fifth anniversary season, Harris Theater will be offering select upcoming performances for just $5. Call the theater box office at 312-334-7777 for more information.