As we near the end of 2022, the writers and critics of A&E take a look back on the year to celebrate some people who have made a difference when it comes to the arts.
“2022 has been something of a banner year for this Chicago-based trio,” writes Britt Julious. The band released “Blue Skies,” their fourth and most celebrated record yet.
“The highlight has been playing our new record in real life, real rooms, for real people,” said band member Jason Balla.
“Makaya McCraven’s marriage of here-and-now improvisation with a hip-hop producer’s sensibility has made him a global musical eminence,” writes Hannah Edgar.
This year, McCraven released “In These Times,” his first album to exclusively feature the compositions he’s played in his sets for years now.
“For the past couple of years, all eyes have been on the Chicago Sinfonietta,” writes Hannah Edgar.” In recent years, the group has started an artist-in-residence program, implemented a new pay-what-you-can ticket pricing model, doubled its operating budget and announced new digs at the Auditorium Theatre.
And at the Sinfonietta’s helm has been Blake-Anthony Johnson, an unassuming, soft-spoken, cellist-turned-exec.
This year, public libraries became battlegrounds for organizations and even hate groups that were opposed to everything from mask mandates and LGBTQ rights to YA novels about racism.
“You probably heard about this,” Christopher Borrelli writes. “Less commonly reported were those library boards (in Downers Grove and elsewhere) that voted to reject such challenges and library workers who reaffirmed the foundational idea of a library as a public space for all.”
Giordano Dance Chicago marked its 60th anniversary this year after the pandemic nearly forced them to close their doors.
“Unsung heroes in the form of arts administrators saved countless organizations from financial ruin,” Lauren Warnecke writes. “In GDC’s case, that hero is executive director Michael McStraw.”
Rebecca Fons is making her mark at the Gene Siskel Film Center, which operates on a $1.5 million annual budget.
“Fons has implemented strategic shifts in its programming mix, loosened up the screening calendar to allow for more flexibility and some late additions and — crucially — attracted noticeable engagement of younger audiences,” critic Michael Phillips writes.
This year, Ron OJ Parson directed hit after hit after hit: from Tyla Abercrumbie’s epic drama “Relentless” to August Wilson’s “Two Trains Running” to Alice Childress’ “Trouble in Mind.”
“No director did more for Chicago theater in 2022, and no artist’s talents were more needed by his town,” critic Chris Jones writes.
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