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Peter Taub, Director of Performance Programs

Our eighth full season of MCA Performances was as diverse and dynamic as ever, with a multifaceted array of dance, theater, music, and interdisciplinary arts. The 2004-05 season consisted of ten primary and ten secondary projects of international, national, and Chicago-based artists, presented in more than ninety performances and related film screenings and more than forty Artists Up Close discussions and workshops.


Highlights of the Season

Programming in 2005 emphasized contemporary dance, an arena in which the MCA plays an important role in Chicago. Season highlights included:
The spring 2005 series of five major dance companies, beginning with the final work in Ralph Lemon's Geography Trilogy and concluding with the long-awaited Chicago return of Paul Taylor Dance Company and the accompanying fund-raising gala.
The introduction of influential and engaging artists to Chicago audiences, so that more than half of the season was comprised of Chicago debuts, featuring such companies as Universes, Victoria, and AXIS Dance.
Effective partnerships with a wide array of groups, ranging from broad-based agencies like the Illinois Humanities Council and Chicago Public Radio to smaller vital resources such as The Guild Complex, The Dance Center at Columbia College Chicago, and Albany Park Theater Project.

To greater fulfill our mission to be a center where the public can directly experience the work and ideas of living artists, we strengthened the visibility of Artists Up Close, a series of encounters for artists and audiences, featuring post-performance discussions, workshops, and roundtable discussions for each major project in the season. In fiscal year 2005, the MCA also hosted a research residency for Liz Lerman Dance Exchange in preparation for a major dance-theater performance for Fall 2006 about the implications of human genome research.

Off-Stage Accomplishments
We created a new flexible subscription for the ten primary projects across the season, which resulted in a four-fold increase in subscriptions, particularly from members. Group sales, which have increased, represented twenty percent of fall 2004 ticket sales.
This year, the MCA ended its long-term practice of outsourcing public relations work for performance and brought this function in-house with a new dedicated staff position. This provided new opportunities for closer attention and successfully led to greater integration of media coverage across various MCA program areas. We also made our performance programs more visible through our website, e-mail, grassroots audience development, and new plaza signage.

Working with artists who are accomplished and influential, but not yet well-known locally, yields additional challenges. We provide strong background information to faculty contacts through our website, the press, and information packets; encourage dialogue with artists through the Artists Up Close series; and work with key artists over a period of years with multiple public engagements.

In 2003, the MCA created the Chicago Dancemakers Forum (CDF) in consortium with Dance Center and Links Hall. This choreographic development initiative has been funded as a demonstration project of the Chicago Community Trust. Exemplary in its support of artistic research and development, this project was featured in a book of three national case studies published by the Association of Performing Arts Presenters (APAP). Funding for CDF has now been secured for the 2006-08 period from a new, private source.

Our performances consistently garner strong press coverage, generating ongoing public attention. During fiscal year 2005, our first year as a member of the National Performance Network, the MCA produced a residency with AXIS Dance and
co-commissioned a future project by Reggie Wilson Fist & Heel Performance Group.

Revenue goals for fiscal year 2005 have been met in contributed income. This year was the second and final year of season sponsorship by TCF Bank and the first year by The Joyce Foundation. Individual support, which increased by more than 50 percent in fiscal year 2004, continued to increase in fiscal year 2005 by an additional 20 percent. Earned income goals have exceeded the fiscal year 2005 budget.

The complete performance schedule from fiscal year 2005 reveals the breadth and vigor of MCA Performances, which is dedicated to bringing the highest quality and most innovative performances to our stage. The MCA has a reputation for strong local and national leadership in the performing arts. I thank everyone who has contributed creativity, skill, and financial support to this ongoing achievement.