December 8, 2016: The Joyce Awards announced today that Free Street has won $50,000 to support the creation of Meet Juan(ito) Doe, a project conceived and developed by Resident Artist Ricardo Gamboa. Free Street is one of only two Chicago organizations to receive this award this year – congratulations to the Old Town School of Folk Music for their award as well!

From the press release:

The Joyce Awards is the only program supporting artists of color in major Great Lakes cities. The Chicago-based foundation has awarded nearly $3 million to commission 55 new works since the annual program started in 2003.

A distinctive feature of the Joyce Awards is that a winners’ work must include the process of engaging community members to inform and shape their art. Community forums, workshops, panel discussions, social media input and one-on-one conversations will help influence each artist’s final presentation.

“It is exciting to see such a powerful focus not only on the creative aspects of these works, but also on how the artists plan to involve diverse communities in their development and presentation,” said Joyce Foundation President Ellen Alberding. “We are confident these productions will do a great job of telling stories that can foster civic participation and cross-cultural understanding, and we are proud to support them and showcase the artistic talent of the Great Lakes region.”

The 2017 Joyce Awards are managed by the Joyce Foundation’s newly-appointed director the culture program Tracie D. Hall.  Previously, Hall was deputy commissioner of the Chicago Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events and joins the Joyce Foundation with deep experience at the intersection of arts access and equity, literacy, youth and economic development. Her goals at the Joyce Foundation include maintaining the foundation’s presence as a supporter of Chicago’s dynamic cultural community and national advocate for racial equity and economic inclusion; supporting the next generation of arts and culture leaders and administrators; and helping build communities through the arts.

Free Street Theater and Ricardo Gamboa

Renowned artist and activist Ricardo Gamboa will develop interactive installations in several Chicago neighborhoods to collect stories and experiences from Chicago’s Mexican and Mexican-American population. The information gathered through these installations and Gamboa’s first-hand community engagement will help him develop an original work of theatre to be performed in the summer of 2017 at Chicago Park District locations in Little Village, Pilsen, and other predominantly Mexican and Mexican-American neighborhoods. In addition, on September 16, 2017 – Mexican Independence Day – a second version of the play will premiere at an indoor theater in Little Village for a six-week run.  

At Free Street, we are fundamentally committed to self-representation, to making theater by, for, with, about and in Chicago’s diverse communities. We are thrilled to have the support of The Joyce Foundation in making Meet Juan(ito) Doe, a project conceived by Ricardo Gamboa that uses a grassroots and ensemble process to center the stories and contributions of Chicago’s Mexican-American community,” said Coya Paz, artistic director of the Free Street Theater. “At a time when families are being torn apart by deportations, when American citizens are being told they don’t belong in the country that raised them, when being Brown or speaking Spanish is an everyday act of bravery, there is no more urgent time to invest in performance that tells the true stories of our city.

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