Sacred Places Spring 2013 - Page 13

UPDATE on Partners: Arts in Sacred Places Success Story he bartered his gifts and talents as a carpenter in lieu of traditional rent. Unity Lutheran Church in Chicago, IL, has benefitted in myriad ways from its participation in Partners’ Arts in Sacred Places program. Photo credit: Frederick J. Nachman. “If we clean it, they will come.” It was with this promise that Pastor Fred Kinsey of Unity Lutheran in Chicago’s Andersonville neighborhood motivated his congregation to embrace space sharing. Less than a year later, with the support of staff, lay leaders, members, and neighbors, the church rummage rooms have been cleaned out and Unity is home to more than half a dozen artists on the city’s north side, serving as an incubator for artistic innovation in theatre, dance, and performance art. Three of these artists – Stephen Murray, an independent theatre director; Bryan Saner, a performance artist; and Francesca Peppiatt of Stockyards Theatre Project – met Unity through Partners’ Making Homes for the Arts in Sacred Places (AiSP) training. Saner bonded with Reverend Kinsey, explaining, “The training allowed us to open a dialogue and immediately we recognized that we had philosophies in common.” Since their original meeting in the spring of 2012, Saner has rehearsed several of his pieces in the church gym. Building on the lessons of the AiSP training, Unity’s leadership worked with him to map out a space-sharing agreement in which It has proved to be a win-win arrangement: Saner has access to much-needed rehearsal space and the congregation has been able to complete critical building projects. In fact, the arrangement has proved to be a win-win-win: the third beneficiary is RefugeeONE, a nonprofit that serves youth whose lives have been disrupted by violence. The organization uses Unity’s gymnasium for its afterschool soccer program, and has long been in need of a locker room. As part of his arrangement with Unity, Saner built one – providing RefugeeONE with youth lockers built by an artist who rehearses his work in the same space in which they play. Sarah Gottlieb, referred to Unity by Saner, is exploring the potential for a similar collaboration. Gottlieb, a dancer who rehearses at Unity, is in conversation with another tenant, Penedo Charitable Organization (PCO), a mentoring program for girls, to explore ways to weave PCO’s mission into Gottlieb’s art within the setting of the congregation. This conversation, like other collaborations between space-sharing partners at Unity, was sparked at the church’s Open House, a quarterly event that introduces the congregation to the artists and nonprofits that use space in the building. “When we started, we thought it was just about money. But it is about much more. We see now how this work is integral to our mission, to our outreach to the community.” Pastor Fred Kinsey of Unity Lutheran Church, about their participation in Arts in Sacred Places Sacred Places • Spring 2013 • 12