What do we mean by community? (Part 1)
What do we mean by community?
This is my first message to you as Step Up's Executive Director, and I want to start it by thanking you for your support over the years. Whether you donated to us, shared your artistry with us, bought tickets, or promoted us to your friends, you played an integral role in getting us this far. On behalf of Elizabeth, the Board of Directors, and myself: thank you!
When Elizabeth wrote you last Fall, she spoke about the big changes the company was making. It feels like the world around us has been going through some dramatic changes, too. Our world feels more divided every day. Many of these divisions are not new, but they feel sharper and more amplified than ever before. I look around me and fear that some divisions are becoming so wide, that we might never bridge them. This is why Step Up's work is so important to me right now, because Step Up's work is to foster community.
One definition of community is "a feeling of fellowship with others." Theatre engenders that feeling within us. A play has the power to show us a stranger's hopes, fears, and struggles in a way that lets us see that person as one of "us" - to feel fellowship with them. This has always been at the core of Step Up's mission. In choosing plays to produce, Step Up prioritized stories that asked us to find fellowship with people whose worlds seemed different than ours. And in choosing Chicago nonprofits to partner with, Step Up reminded us that these strangers and their struggles weren't so far away - they were right outside our front door.
As Elizabeth told you, Step Up is making some big changes as it transforms into Step Up Chicago Playwrights. But our commitment to bridging divides and fostering community isn't changing. In fact, we're re-committing to it in a big way. Over the next two weeks, I'll be telling you more about Step Up's new initiatives and how we plan to bring Chicago closer together, one neighborhood at a time. We'll be unveiling our new website. We'll be announcing a fundraising campaign, and a few more surprises. But for now, I just wanted to tell you how grateful I am to be part of the Step Up community with you.