On the cusp of what’s next

We have so much to share. 

It’s been five years since we purchased the site for our new home in Uptown. Four since we began the design process to envision its shape and amenities. Three since a global pandemic upended our productions and planning. Two since we returned to production with the Jeff Award-winning (and Goodman Theatre remounted) world premiere of Relentless. And one since we began 2023 and a series of artistic, organizational, and fundraising milestones rivaling any in our history. 

Through it all, you’ve been with us—curious, supportive, perhaps a little impatient (we can relate to that!), but always exhibiting a care and trust in TimeLine that is humbling and for which we are ever grateful. 

IT’S TIME to provide a more detailed update about all that’s been happening behind-the-scenes with our organization and the work to create our new home in Uptown. 

Rendering of TimeLine’s future new home at 5035 N. Broadway in Chicago. (HGA)

About that new home … 

Since we last shared a significant update on this blog, TimeLine has been busier than ever, navigating a radically changed post-pandemic theatre landscape, while at the same time taking big steps to set the stage for our next era. 

Tops on our to do list: Raising the funds to lay the foundation for that future.  

Happily, there is much success to report! To date, TimeLine has raised nearly $37.5 million for our new home project, through a combination of private and public support. 

The response from our community has been incredible: $11.9 million raised in private funds as of December 2021, $15.6 million as of December 2022—and an astounding $9 million added during 2023 (so far) for a total of $24.6 million raised. These funds, combined with $12.9 million in public funding from the City of Chicago and State of Illinois, represent huge strides. 

We also can’t gloss over the challenges, including that inflation and other implications of the pandemic have impacted the costs and timeframe for our new home. Since fiscal responsibility has always been a core value of our organization, we remain committed to building our new home in a way that sets up TimeLine for long-term sustainability and success. To ensure that happens—and to be good stewards of our community’s investment—our goal is to reach 90% of total project costs before moving forward with construction.

We’re getting very close—and we know that with your continued support, we’ll reach that momentous milestone soon! If you’d like to join this project or get a personal update on our progress, please reach out to Chelsea Phillips, Director of Major Gifts, at chelsea@timelinetheatre.com or (773) 281-8463 x116. 

Alongside these fundraising benchmarks, we’ve continued to work with our architects HGA, contractor Bulley & Andrews, and others on preparing for the construction phase—including moving forward with the fabrication of concrete pre-cast panels that will form the walls and floors of our new home. Those are done, and they’re patiently waiting (in a warehouse in Wisconsin) for the time they can travel to Chicago and take their place at 5035 N. Broadway. 

There’s much more to come, and we can’t wait to keep you posted as this project heats up even more in 2024! 

To explore further, visit our IT’S TIME campaign page to check out a video preview, renderings, and more about our new home project. 

Since fiscal responsibility has always been a core value of our organization, we remain committed to building our new home in a way that sets up TimeLine for long-term sustainability and success.

In other news … 

Our new home project is a critical ingredient of TimeLine’s future—but ultimately, it’s the continued realization of our mission, vision, and values that will make it the home for great artistry and connection we envision in Uptown. And on that front, TimeLine hasn’t stopped making things happen, either! 

In good company: THE LEHMAN TRILOGY performed downtown at Broadway In Chicago’s Broadway Playhouse for an extended 9-week run.

Most recently, we had our biggest production ever—the Chicago premiere of the Tony Award-winning Best Play The Lehman Trilogy, presented in partnership with Broadway In Chicago. The Lehman Trilogy broke all previous TimeLine records—enjoying an extended 9-week run downtown at the Broadway Playhouse and garnering support from more than 28,000 audience members. That’s more people than we could accommodate over 1 1/2 regular TimeLine seasons on Wellington Avenue! 

That hit production is the latest in a string of artistic and organizational highlights since we returned to production in January 2022. Here are just a few of the other notable achievements: 

— The world premiere of Tyla Abercrumbie’s Relentless—developed through TimeLine’s Playwrights Collective—was our first production after the pandemic. It became a sold-out hit at Theater Wit, transferred downtown shortly thereafter to the Goodman Theatre for an extended run, and received the Equity Jeff Award for New Work.

— Relentless kicked off a string of artistic work acclaimed by critics and audiences alike—Chicago premieres of The Chinese Lady and The Lifespan of a Fact; expanded runs for the world premiere of Will Allan’s Campaigns, Inc. (also developed through TimeLine’s Playwrights Collective) and Trouble in Mind; another world premiere with Boulevard of Bold Dreams; and the opportunity to present the Chicago-based premiere of the Broadway hit What the Constitution Means to Me.

— The challenges of the post-pandemic theatre industry—rising costs, changing audience habits, etc.—are part of TimeLine’s reality as well. But we’re proud that these productions have generally met or exceeded their budgeted sales goals, and that we exceeded subscription goals for the 2023-24 season by 16%.

TimeLine’s Living History Program continues to expand and deepen its impact. Teaching artists returned to Chicago Public Schools in September 2021, and have served 1,255 students in 48 residencies across six schools over the past two years. TimeLine South returned in-person in the summers of 2022 and 2023, partnering with the University of Chicago’s Reva and David Logan Center for the Performing Arts to offer a 6-week space for teens to practice self-expression, creativity, and ensemble building, culminating in a new devised work each summer: Recidivism and The Bereaved. Plus, Living History launched a new after-school program at Uplift High School in Uptown, and is working with young adults to develop leadership skills in the arts (including many alums of the education program and/or TimeLine South) through NextGen.

TimeLine’s 2023 Lunar New Year Celebration exhibit featuring costumes and dramaturgy from “The Chinese Lady.”

Community engagement remains a focus, and our Community Engagement Team has worked on several initiatives, including a special exhibit as part of the 2023 Argyle Lunar New Year Celebration in Uptown, and a recent partnership at Hamilton Park on the South Side to present a one-time reading of Relentess. Looking ahead, we’ll be doing some extensive strategic planning and practice in this area, thanks to a $200,000 Arts Recovery Grant from Chicago’s Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events to pursue a project that will help TimeLine “create a roadmap to sustainable impact” in our new home. This project is just getting started, and we look forward to sharing more! 

Finally, and most significantly behind-the-scenes, TimeLine’s has seen thrilling changes to our executive team, starting with the appointment of Executive Director Mica Cole in May 2022. Former Managing Director Elizabeth K. Auman transitioned to a new role as Director of New Home Development. And just this September, Ted DeLong came on board as our new Managing Director! Alongside longtime Artistic Director PJ Powers, this extraordinary trio of leaders will guide TimeLine through the path ahead. 

What can you do?  

None of TimeLine’s incredible story since emerging from the pandemic is possible without you. We’re thankful for your subscription and ticket purchases; your social media posts; your applause and kind words; your financial support of our Annual Fund, Living History Program, and Capital Campaign; and your belief in what we’re building together. Please stick with us! With you as a supporter and community partner, TimeLine’s future is on its way.

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