About NON:op Open Opera Works
MISSION + VALUES
NON:op Open Opera Works strengthens ties across communities by producing immersive, interactive, and multi-disciplinary performances and installations for virtual, indoor, and outdoor public spaces, pairing them with complementary discussions and salons.
Collaboration is fundamental to NON:op’s evolving programming and organizational vision as a facilitator for artistic experimentation and creativity. NON:op centers community in its non-hierarchical and non-directive organization structure, and reflecting its core values, deploys innovative artistic platforms where people may collectively work towards a more just society.
NON:op strives to be a leading, multi-arts presenting organization, embedded in Chicago communities through its commissioned artists and productions, while engaging with citizenry regionally as well as internationally.
The vision is dependent on valuing anti-racist work, on collaboration across the arts and with individuals and organizations external to the field, and on humility and recognition that understanding and radical access comes from the de-centering of our inherent decision-making power and resources.
- Unheard Voices. Provides opportunities for meaningful participation in the creative process from all who care to participate. (Programs include Blood Lines, SAY THEIR NAMES, American Biography, L’sGA: Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address, and The Gas Heart.)
- Individual and Community Experiences. Enables long-term partnerships and collaborations in which artists and organizations work together to create opportunities for meaningful and sustainable impact in their communities. (Programs include Aural Architecture/Aural Neighborhoods, HEAR BELOW: Listening to Chicago Underground, and Viral Silence: Community Portraits in Response to COVID-19.)
- Artist Commissions. Provides economic support to artists of color and with disabilities and to others who have been historically marginalized or devastated by recent government policies and the pandemic. (Projects with commissioned artists include Viral Silence: Community Portraits in Response to Covid-19 and L’sGA : Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address.)
Composer Christophe Preissing gathered a group of like-minded artists to found NON:op Open Opera Works in 2012 to present non-linear, non-hierarchical stage works. NON:op’s early history included performing original opera (f(H2T) from here to there and Thunder, Perfect Mind); adaptations of works by Samuel Beckett, Gertrude Stein, and Sam Shepherd; installations at the Harold Washington Library (SUS: the long thin wire at EAR TAXI 2016) and Augustana Lutheran Church (Blood Lines, 2019); FEED Salons with food, beverages and performances; and workshops and panel discussions.
In 2017, NON:op began producing issue-oriented programs and diversifying its artist and audience base—partnering with Intuit: The Center for Intuitive and Outsider Art, Bodies of Work: A Network of Disability Art and Culture (BOW), and middle brow beer (donates 50% of profits to social causes). NON:op’s 2017-2018 season included COMING TOGETHER, a concert of four historical pieces with a documentary film and panel discussion on immigration, and ON THE CUSP, a panel discussion on disability representation in the arts and program featuring four theatre works from the historical avant-garde with performances by artists with and without disabilities. Beginning in 2019 NON:op has been dedicated to socially relevant programming with un/becoming: a pygmalion story, a staged performance that challenges the Pygmalion myth of what it means to be a woman; the installation Blood Lines: remembering the 1919 Chicago race riot; the HPSCHD@50: Every Neighborhood Is a Universe festival in 2020, and Viral Silence: community portraits in response to COVID-19.
In 2020 NON:op shifted our public programming to a virtual and participatory model and created an online newsletter and platform, NON:onLINE. We refocused our mission and vision around facilitating radical access, experimentation, and creativity across communities while working collectively towards a more just society. To that end, we reorganized our programming around three initiatives: Unheard Voices, Individual and Community Experiences, and Artist Commissioning Program. With a focus on artists of color and artists with disabilities, in 2021 we have commissioned five artists/teams to create new work in response to COVID-19 and to the system injustice against Black citizens. We are working in partnership with Northeastern Illinois University interns and community members on SAY THEIR NAMES—a project that seeks to identify and humanize Black persons killed by law enforcement in the United States since 1919—and with Roosevelt University on L’s GA : Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address—a project that commissions new responses to Sal Martirano’s L’s GA and the Gettysburg Address.