Sacred Places Spring 2013 - Page 14

UPDATE on Partners: Arts in Sacred Places Success Story (continued) At the most recent Open House in May, each spacesharing partner was invited to stand before the congregation and speak about his or her mission, vision, and values. What happened instead was an outpouring of gratitude from tenants toward the church. As Reverend Kinsey described it, “The artists were so complimentary of the space and so thankful for having the space – so thankful for their relationship with us.” This emerging sense of community and kinship between the artists and the congregation has inspired a new work by Francesca Peppiatt, Artistic Director of Stockyards Theatre Project (STP). In addition to using space at Unity for performances by STP, Peppiatt is developing site-specific work that would dramatize the history of the congregation. Unity has origins as a storefront church. In 1905, members of the congregation began to gather in a commercial building six blocks from the church’s current location. In 1917, the church consecrated its new home, a neo-gothic building designed by Ivar Viehe-Naess, a Norwegian graduate of the Chicago School of Architecture. By 1920, the seeds of the congregation’s relationship with the arts had already taken root: Unity Players was launched, and the company has been in residence at the church ever since. As the congregation approaches the celebration of a century in its building, Peppiatt’s play will tell the story of the congregation and its community, using the building as a character. The audience will move through the spaces of the church, learning Unity’s heritage as they explore the church’s physical plant. Reverend Kinsey describes the evolution in thinking about space sharing at the church in this way: “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. We’ve gotten to the point where we recognize that we need to be intentional. We need to find the right group, the right fit for the congregation and for the community.” Both Reverend Kinsey and Amy Wood, Space Sharing Marketing Manager at Unity, credit 13 • Sacred Places • • Spring 2013 At Unity Lutheran in Chicago, IL, Open House is a quarterly event that introduces the congregation to the artists and nonprofits that use space in the building. the AiSP training and Partners as important steps for getting to where they are. “Our building has new life. Our congregation has new life. And it’s spreading out into the community, too, [reaching] all of these artists, new people, and new projects. Partners has been such a catalyst for us.” With the knowledge gained from the AiSP training, growing word-of-mouth referrals, and a steady stream of interest in the church, Unity’s leadership is beginning a stra Y