New Collective seeks funding for non-profit shows

Brian Loevner, Aurélia Fisher and Monty Cole Photograph courtesy of The Chicago Commercial Collective.

THE NEW CHICAGO COMMERCIAL COLLECTIVE – comprised of Chicago Dramatists managing director Brian Loevner and independent producers and arts educators/consultants Aurelia K. Fisher and Monty Cole – kicks off with a remount of Keith Huff’s A Steady Rain at Dramatists July 7-September 2.

The goal for the newly organized CCC, according to Fisher, is to “maintain the integrity of the non-profit theater world while capitalizing on investments for the long-term. We want to make it financially viable for everyone.”

Though none of the founding members have deep pockets of their own, they do have a lot of experience and contacts in nonprofit theater. Fisher cites as a possible model Elephant Eye Theatrical, created by Stuart Oken and Michael Leavitt, which partners with performing arts centers around the country and brought The Addams Family to Broadway.

However, she also stresses that Chicago Commercial Collective is “truly about Chicago and keeping shows running longer here and elevating the profile of the nonprofits.”

Fisher also notes that mid-size venues such as Stage 773 – the former Theatre Building Chicago – and the Mercury Theater on Southport offer potential larger spaces for hit storefront productions to move to while nonprofits continue to honor the rest of their season obligations.

The initial capitalization for CCC is $150,000, she says, with about $100,000 of that being for operational costs and $50,000 for shows. (A Steady Rain, which has one minimal set and only two actors, shouldn’t be that expensive to produce.)

As for current investors, Fisher says “We’ve had a few people who are locals who have invested in New York shows who have reached out. They are not necessarily philanthropists on nonprofit [theater] boards.”

Studs TerkelChicago Dramatists first produced Huff’s break-out hit, which ended up on Broadway with Daniel Craig and Hugh Jackman playing two embattled Chicago cops. The Chicago Commercial Collective production goes back to original director Russ Tutterow and original actors Randy Steinmeyer and Peter DeFaria. (Huff is now a writer and producer on David Fincher’s upcoming series House of Cards, and a film version of A Steady Rain is in the works.)

THEATRE NOTES.  Studs Terkel, who would have turned 100 on May 16, gets a posthumous birthday bash at Steppenwolf Theatre on May 21, 7 p.m. with a reading of Will the Circle Be Unbroken: Death, Rebirth, and Hunger for a Faith, excerpted from Derek Goldman’s adaptation of Terkel’s 2001 book.

The performance is free, but tickets must be reserved at 312/335-1650.

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