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New Works Initiative

The New Works Initiative is a structure for the MCA to fund and support the development of new artworks, placing the creative process at the heart of the museum’s relationship with Chicago. This three-part approach supports the development of new performances and creative projects that foster connection between artists, audiences, and communities.

The initiative includes three programs: a Chicago Performance Commission, a National Performance Engagement, and the In Progress series.

About the Program

The Chicago Performance Commission fosters the artistic and professional growth of Chicago artists, providing consistent and comprehensive support for these local artists' development. This commission also connects their work with the national and international performance scene.

The National Performance Engagement centers Chicago in the creative processes of national or international artists, connecting them with the Chicago community as they develop a new work or new models of engagement in advance of its final presentation at the MCA.

In Progress is an ongoing series designed to give Chicago artists, thinkers, and curators a platform for developing new works in dialogue with audiences. Artists present their thinking, share inspirations, and answer questions, giving patrons a glimpse into the creative process.

The Artists

cat mahari

cat mahari's practice is built from a richly layered body history, stemming from an archive of research, physical training, and intent to manifest an intellectual, material, and informal legacy of Black liberation through documentation. By examining personal marks and socio-genealogical maps, she explores inner and outer environments. She is a 2023 MAP Fund micrograntee recipient, and a 2022 Foundation for the Arts Emergency grant for blk ark: the impossible manifestation. Her upcoming works include the film, Sugar in the Raw, a surrealist-inspired exploration of Black intimacy, trust, and touch via Chicago house and stepping. In 2021 she was named the City of Chicago Esteemed Artist Awardee in Dance and received a 2021 3Arts Award in dance. Her works include the Afro Sci-fi Krump film Imprints & Traces, and the multidisciplinary performance BAM!, for which she received a CSF Generative Performing Artist Fellowship. BAM! is an immersive ensemble work, focusing on Blackness, Amerikkka, and violence. Her post-disciplinary work, the mixtape series violent/break vol i and vol ii, has received national and international development support at Brink Festival (London), High Concept Labs (Chicago), and Imir Scene Kunst (Norway). mahari is a culture bearer of hip-hop and house, having participated, judged, and held community initiatives and events. As well as a former member of the Krump family Gool, mahari holds a BFA in dance from the University of Missouri, Kansas City, and an MA in performance, practice, and research from the Royal Central School of Speech and Drama at the University of London.

7NMS | Marjani Forté-Saunders & Everett Saunders

7NMS is the public emergence of Marjani Forté-Saunders and Everett Saunders’s work as a collaborative team.

Operating in CA and NY, 7NMS radically engages art as a medium of elevation, healing, and futurity. With 7 award-winning projects in 10 years, 7NMS tote a revolutionary commitment to the Black radical imagination. Their latest work, PROFIT, is an awardee of the 2020 MAP Fund and 2020 New Music USA Award, and the National Dance Project Production and Touring grant 2021. Marjani is a 2019 FCA Fellowship awardee, a three-time Bessie award–winner, and an inaugural recipient of the Jerome Hill, Dance USA, and Urban Bush Women Choreographic Center Fellowships. Everett is the composer and thought partner behind the award-winning and internationally touring production, Memoirs of a Unicorn, and a two-time New Music USA Awardee. His recent work can be found as composer/sound designer on Jaamil Kosoko's Chameleon, mayfield Brooks's Whale Fall, and Urban Bush Women's Hair & Other Stories (2018). While incubating PROPHET through fall 2020 and winter 2021 Satellite Residencies, in 7NMS's newly erected home studios, the duo has worked in close collaboration with co-visionaries d. Sabela grimes (movement composer and sound archivist), Meena Murugesan (filmmaker and media designer), and Marc Winston (photographer), producing PROPHET's latest filmic iteration, commissioned by Jacob's Pillow.



Lead support for the New Works Initiative is provided by Elizabeth A. Liebman.

Previous Artists



Past Programs