The world around us continues to change. As we grieve the lives we once knew we feel that it is essential to remain hopeful for the future. After evaluating the resources available to Chicago-based cultural producers, creative laborers, art administrators and curators we realized the lack of dedicated opportunities to those that operate outside of the traditional art-making landscapes and industries.
This has inspired us to create the Reunion Relief Fund, an effort to reimagine the ways we support LGBTQ+ and cultural producers of color post-pandemic when the connectors of our community will be tasked with brining us together through intimate live events and programs. This fund is specifically intended for creative laborers who work to bring people together, the behind-the-scenes masterminds who make the programming possible that enriches our underrepresented communities. That’s our event producers, drag show divas, market & festival mavens, party promoters, and anyone who primary role is to bring community together.
With so many institutions and organizations focusing on the here and now through stimulus payouts and immediate monetary resources (which is very important) we think it is incredibly valuable for us to begin getting our wigs in order for June-September which is typically Reunion's and our communities busiest time of the year in Chicago. As June Jordan says " we are the ones we’ve been waiting for” and since there will most likely be limited funds and resources available for the kind of work we make and communities we assemble it is crucial that we support one another to truly imagine brighter days.
Funds will go directly to individuals looking to develop intimate opportunities online or at Reunion (according to official mandates). As part of our mission to empower and support LGBTQ+, communities of color and gender minorities in creative roles we are looking to raise a $5,000 fund that will be released in increments of $200-500 beginning in May 2020 to cultural producers. Applications will open May 1, 2020 and be available on a rolling basis depending on resources and capacity. Approved stipends will be dispersed via PayPal or Venmo and can be used in an unrestricted manner to bring their concept to life. You can find the application form here.
We understand that our community needs resources just as much as we need opportunities to reactivate our independent ecosystems. It's going to take time for us to get adjusted to our new normal and we want to make sure that we have resources available and an abundant amount of opportunities for our community of creative laborers that have been severely impacted by the pandemic. Please consider donating any amount or sharing with your community.
Photo: Collage of past events at Reunion Chicago
WHY WE'RE RAISING FUNDS
Named for its intentions of being a welcoming space that engenders feelings of home and belonging, Reunion has become one of the only and most essential spaces in Chicago centering LGBTQ, people of color and gender minorities. Since 2016 Reunion has welcomed over 250 artists, organizations, groups, institutions and brands through its doors, producing over 500 events that would otherwise have trouble finding a space that could meet its budgetary, community and creative needs. In an effort to truly enact its mission of economic accessibility, Reunion operates on a sliding scale pricing model for rentals and residencies. In an attempt to keep our doors open, community engaged and artists/producers activated we are creating a Relief Fund that will temporarily help us reactivate our ecosystem in the coming months. So many members of our community depend on Reunion as a way to come together to heal, reset, amplify their skills and share resources which is why we believe it is vital for us to begin looking to the future.
We know that there is no returning back to “normal” and quite frankly we’re okay with that because our departure from that world is long overdue. To ensure that we are able to open our doors safely and smoothly to begin programming (once deemed safe) we are creating a fund to support cultural workers and art administrators with developing intimate gatherings at Reunion and online. These gatherings can take form as panels, workshops, healing salons and more. We will provide the space, marketing support, a cash stipend and any other resources that are readily available to bring these initiatives to life.
Photo: Elijah and Kristen at Reunion Chicago taken by Stephanie Jensen
WHO WE ARE AND HOW WE GOT HERE
In 2016, we, Elijah McKinnon and Kristen Kaza opened the doors to Reunion, making a home for LGBTQ, people of color and gender minorities to connect & create freely. After trying our best to work at various coworking communities and spaces around the city, we became increasingly disappointed with the lack of diversity and intentions of workspace and hospitality environments and imagined a more intersectional and collaborative space with Reunion. In a landscape where spaces for marginalized communities are relegated mostly to bars and clubs, Reunion became a space for crucial connection outside of nightlife.
This pro bono passion project of our has blossomed into a sustainable possibility model for spaces that represent marginalized identities in creative roles. In addition to Reunion Chicago ’s dedication to resource sharing, leadership development, and intersectional identities, the space has garnered a beloved community of people that have been able to amplify their initiatives and mobilize their audience to build out ecosystems that continue to support LGBTQ+ people, women, femme and non-binary fam and communities of color. The space has served as a home to wellness workshops, markets, fundraisers, retreats, art shows and so much more. Now after three years of public service and community good, we are asking for your support in keeping Reunion Chicago open and thriving. More information about Reunion Chicago is available at www.reunionchicago.com
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