Skip to main content

Special Recognition Award

The Black Ensemble Theater, which stages half a dozen shows each season and reaches thousands of audience members and students every year, is known for its brilliant performances and for fostering an important dialogue on race and equality. Praise for the Ensemble has never been in short supply. What was missing, though, was a permanent space for its performances and educational and outreach activities.

Today, by means of the talent and determination that have kept the group at the forefront of Chicago’s cultural scene for 35 years, the Black Ensemble Theater has a new home. Designed by Morris Architects Planners, the Black Ensemble Theater Cultural Center at 4450 N. Clark St. opened in 2011 and features a 300-seat main stage theater; a 150-seat theater for smaller-scale productions; a rehearsal hall and dance studio with scene, costume and wardrobe rooms; seven dressing rooms; work space for musicians; an expansive lobby space; an indoor parking garage; and classroom spaces that can be used by the community.

Since its completion, the Cultural Center has already served as a catalyst for economic growth and community transformation, attracting new restaurants, shops and a more robust civic life to the Uptown neighborhood. With a stated mission of “eradicating racism and its effects through theater arts,” the Theater enjoys diverse audiences, each year entertaining and teaching more than 50,000 people from varying cultures and backgrounds.

For its tireless work in expanding theater education and entertainment to diverse audiences and its dedication to creating dialogue and eliminating racism, the Black Ensemble Theater Cultural Center is the winner of the 2012 CNDA Special Recognition Award.