Joel Hall Dancers, we were the dancers of this morning's festivities. A little bit of movement to get the day started. I think I prefer the drums, but it was still lots of fun. Thanks, Joel.
David Hawkanson, Executive Director of Steppenwolf Theatre Company and Board Chair of the Arts Alliance Illinois, welcomed us back. He reflected on the time since the last conference two years ago, a time that has seen many of our nation's and state's leaders change and some stay the same. A thank you to NEA Chairman, Rocco Landesman, for putting the arts scene of Peoria on the national map was good fun. He also praised both Chicago's new mayor, Mayor Rahm Emanuel, and our first lady, Amy, who both are active practitioners of art, as well as the advocacy campaign that caused there to be an arts and culture transition team when issues like housing didn't have their own dedicated team.
Then came the blues. Orbert Davis, founder of the Chicago Jazz Philharmonic, brought his trumpet and brought his soul to the audience. Talking about creative breakthroughs from his perspective, he breaks it down into very simply into Input, Connect and Transfer, and Output. He urges us forward with three things we must do: Raise the value of music, nurture and develop our taste in music, and share our musical world with our children.
Tanya Saracho, playwright and actress, spoke about racism and the effects of the lack of agency for Latinas on the cultural scene of Chicago when she moved to the city in 1998. As a founder of Teatro Luna, she gave voice to a community that was lacking actors and lacking stories. She told her story, and through her story, helped connect us to the problems she described and make them extremely real. A treasure of a storyteller!
I have to admit my fanboy status of Dan Sinker and his @MayorEmanuel account on Twitter. He talked about how he, in large part, turned Twitter and social media in general into a new form of literature. We live in a time without mediation, and we're just learning how to embrace that in the many ways that we use the tools that social media gives to us.
It was an inspiring morning all about communications. Through diversity, doing big things to move towards breakthroughs, and putting up that mirror to nature, we can expand our voice and those of our communities.