SARAH SOLOTAROFF MIRKIN

"What works?... Hoping that there will be enough recognition of the existing talent – and enough support of it – so that dance will continue to grow in the city."

What Works?

"The arts were there when I came to the [Chicago Community] Trust... but they were certainly not broadly represented."

Dance at the Chicago Community Trust

Bruce Newman ballet theatre trust community anna paskevska academy arts culture grant venue mid-sized harris theater music dance oberlin

dance initiative hubbard street harris theater executive committee awareness chicago maker community trust new york audience architect blue ribbon committee dance company new work ballet company chicago public school new york city future of ballet major cultural institutions trust

high quality bonnie brooks indian dance dance community executive director chicago academy music city Anna Paskevska D Carroll Joynes history of dance york city ballet dance series office of art group of people classical ballet randy duncan local art community dance department presence of city of neighborhood joffrey theater dancer gus giordano dan duell bruce newman scottish ballet twin city visual art discipline rigorous training

Chi arts Mundelein Oberlin Lou Conte latino dance program officer joseph Holmes mark morris community foundation audience mapping project

funding philanthropy blue ribbon study

Dance advocate and philanthropist Sarah Solotaroff Mirkin was born in Evanston. Her background in music led her to administrative roles in various arts organizations, including the Chicago Community Trust. During her tenure there, from 1990 until her retirement in 2007, Sarah was instrumental in creating the Harris Theater for Music and Dance, the Chicago Public Schools Office of Arts Education, and the Chicago Dance Initiative, which subsequently gave rise to Audience Architects and the Chicago Dancemakers Forum. 

May 19, 2015: Sarah recounts how her study of music led to her interest in dance and describes many efforts she spearheaded at the Chicago Community Trust in order to support dance in Chicago. These include making grants to many dance companies, commissioning a blue-ribbon panel to consider the future of ballet in Chicago, and creating a performance venue for mid-sized dance groups. At the heart of Sarah’s interview is a philosophy on the benefits brought about by community support of arts and cultural activities.

"What little space there was for dance performance in this city disappeared."

City Venues

"You can really mess up here and people give you another chance. If you mess up in New York, you're done."

What Makes Chicago Distinct

"There had never been a really good ballet company in Chicago."

Blue Ribbon Committee

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Full interview videos and transcripts also available upon request.

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