Throughout the nation today, Links chapters partner with museums, symphonies, arts councils, educational institutes and corporations in order to support art programs, especially where there is a focus on artists of color.
LINKING ART THROUGH TRANSFORMATIVE PROGRAMMING
The Links support of the arts can be traced to our cultured co-founder Margaret Roselle Hawkins. Her innate artistic talent, discovered at a young age, earned her a four-year scholarship to the Women's School of Design, later known as the Moore Institute of Art. Her passion for creative expression later led to her appointment as an art teacher, and helped give root to the establishment of The Arts facet in 1964 at the 14th National Assembly.
Signature Arts Program: Classics Through the Ages
Lake Shore (IL) Chapter of The Links, Incorporated designed The Arts Program to promote creativity, build self-esteem and release the talents of children in our service area. In 2011 we enrolled in The Links National Signature Arts Program: Classics Through the Ages and sponsored aspiring dancers to teach free ballet classes to children ages 5 to 12, instilling the arts in current and future generations. We also financially supported and developed audiences for art and cultural institutions in Chicago.
Lake Shore Chapter partnered with BBF Family Services to identify young students for The Arts Classical Ballet Program. We contracted with Deeply Rooted Dance Company (DRDC) to design the ballet program according to our specifications and we hired their instructors to conduct the classes. We also support DRDC by providing scholarships for their Summer Intensive Dance students and purchasing group tickets to their Annual Concerts. DRDC lists Lake Shore Chapter as a sponsor in their promotional materials.
We partnered with Broadway in Chicago (BIC) to provide discount tickets for our Ballet students to attend productions such as ‘‘The Lion King” in 2015. BIC also facilitated Lake Shore Chapter’s fundraisers of The Color Purple in 2007 and Motown The Musical in 2011. BIC arranged for Lake Shore Chapter to host special Theater events featuring “Hamilton” and the pre-Broadway production of “The Bodyguard”. In 2015, we collaborated with the North Shore Links Chapter to host the Chicago premiere of the Harlem Fine Arts Exhibition. We continued to support the event in subsequent years.
For several years we treated our students to performances of the Eta Children’s Theater, followed by a reception with the young actors. In 2015 we introduced our ballet students to The Iona Calhoun School of Ballet at their Spring concert. Attendance at these events enabled our students to observe and be inspired by excellent peers.
In summary, Lake Shore Chapter of The Links has designed and coordinated a Ballet performing arts program for young children to develop their creativity and enhance their self-esteem. Lake Shore Chapter has collaborated with educational and social service organizations on the West side of Chicago to implement the program. Our current partner, BBF Family Services, recommends students for our free ballet classes and provides the dance studio and staff assistance. Through the excellent teaching of our Signature Arts instructors our students have improved in self-confidence, discipline, attendance, performance and social skills. Several students also have improved in academics. Their parents have been actively involved, ensuring that their children attend classes and performances. The experiences and skills that the students learned will enable them to become positive, productive leaders with a lifelong appreciation for the Arts. Lake Shore Chapter’s financial support and audience development contributes to the sustainability of arts and cultural institutions in Chicago.