Northlight Offstage: Winter 17

by Northlight Theatre

Northlight does what?? 

Did you know that Northlight does a lot of cool stuff besides theatre? Have you heard of our education programs, like our school residencies, student matinees, and adult community programs? Did you know that so far we’ve served more than 3400 students—not just in Evanston and Skokie, but throughout Chicago?

If not, it’s about time you have.  Our new quarterly newsletter, Northlight Offstage, will be shining the spotlight behind the scenes so you can see the work we do— not just on the stage but out in your community.

According to Executive Director Tim Evans, Northlight is dedicated to the mission of community:  “Our goal is to be the cultural hub of Evanston, Skokie, and the surrounding neighborhoods.  Our dream is to provide a true home where artists and audiences can gather to teach and learn from and understand each other.”


What’s so important about Arts Education?

The arts aren’t just for fun. To thrive as humans and in community, we need them. According to a 2017 study by Americans for the Arts:

  • Arts improve academic performance for those who need it most. Research validates that low socio-economic status students
    who participate in arts education have even greater increases in academic performance, college acceptance rates, and college completion than students in other socio-economic categories.
  • Arts spark creativity and innovation. Creativity is among the top 5 skills sought by business leaders with 72% saying creativity is of high importance when hiring.
  • Arts unify communities. 62 % across all demographics and economic categories agree that the arts “help me understand other cultures better.”

Programs and Partnerships


Mara Stern, Northlight’s Director of Education, isn’t one to brag, but she can’t help but be proud of how far our education program has come this year.  “We have more programs than ever before,” she says.  “In addition to partnering with 16 schools for our current residencies, we’ve added two community programs for adults.”

SPEAK UP! with Y.O.U. (Youth and Opportunity United)
Speak Up! is our theatre for social change program that is designed to empower youth to effect positive change in their communities.  Youth create an original performance to address a social issue they’ve identified, and learn to collectively speak up about the issue, make an impact and feel empowered.

We’re honored to be partnering with Y.O.U. in Evanston at Washington, Dawes, Oakton, and, Walker Elementary. Our curriculum integrates Y.O.U.’s  Project Based Learning Objectives to help youth become socially responsible adults.


The partnership, now in its second year, has been a huge success.   Y.O.U.’s Site Coordinator for Dawes Elementary, Simone Hampton, reports the youth enrolled in Speak Up! at Dawes have been passionate about getting their message out about youth violence through the development of a community rap.  “The instructors clearly listened to the youth and their interests and as a result there are at high levels of engagement and attendance on Speak Up! day.  The youth feel heard and this makes all the difference.”


With Northlight’s plans to move to downtown Evanston, it’s more important than ever to spread the news that we care about more than making great plays.  We care about great schools, great neighborhoods, and great people.