Green Line Performing Arts Center opens

Green Line Arts Center Deputy Director Lori Berko (2nd from Left) and Ald. Pat Dowell (3rd) cut ribbon officially opening Green Line Performing Arts Center Saturday afternoon at the newly constructed facility at CTA’s 55th L stop on Garfield Blvd. (Photo by Owen M. Lawson III)

Contributing writer

Sydney Chatman teaches theater to University of Chicago Charter School students from pre-kindergarten to fifth grade.

In 2006, Chatman attended a Director’s Lab at Lincoln Center in New York City. “I returned and said, ‘I need to do something that’s going to keep the motivation,’” she said when she returned.
She created the Tofu Chitlin’ Circuit and wrote a play that she produced with the Impact Theater on the North Side.

Now, Chatman has the opportunity to use the space at the Green Line Performing Arts Center, 329 E. Garfield Blvd., which opened its doors on Nov. 10.

The center was designed in collaboration with Theaster Gates, an artist and University of Chicago faculty member, and Morris Architect Planners.

Isis Ferguson, Associate Director of City and Community Strategy, said the center is an outgrowth of the work that Arts and Public Life has been doing.

“We have grown beyond the physical capacity. We want to be able to better serve, not only the community, but artists. And, have a space specifically dedicated to that craft,” she said. “We now really have something so well suited to showcase talent in the proper way.”

Lori Berko, deputy director of the University of Chicago Arts and Public Life, said design planning for the space took six to eight months, but it has been in the discussion and planning phase for more than four years. Construction of the space took one year.

“We are so excited. We are unbelievably excited to have another much-needed theater space on the South Side,” she said.

Ferguson said the space will collaborate with the Silver Room and showcase storytelling.
“We want to recognize other successful work on the South Side and collaborate,” she said.

The Green Line Performing Arts Center also will be the site the Arts and Public Life Jazz Series. And, it will extend the Vends and Vibes showcase.

“We can have more vendors, vendors have more space to spread out,” Ferguson said.

Berko added, that the space also will expend the educational programs to add front of the house, back of the house and Audio-Visual training, “so folks can learn a new skill or further hone their skills.”

Chatman said she is ecstatic about the space and that it will be something really powerful.

“This particular space is unique because different wrists will be in the same building,” she said. “I’m just looking forward to having a space and I have a sense of ownership in the stories I am telling.”