Lasko's letting go letter | Bleader

Lasko's letting go letter

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Redmoon Theater's Jim Lasko has quit his position as artistic director after 17 years, to be succeeded by Frank Maugeri. He issued this announcement late Tuesday, January 13:

Dear Friend, 
For 17 years I served as Artistic Director of Redmoon.  It is now time for me to resign that position and to make room for the leadership of Frank Maugeri and Rebecca Hunter.  The Redmoon Board of Directors has chosen Frank Maugeri to succeed me in the position of Artistic Director and has named Rebecca Hunter to a newly created position of Executive Producer.
 
I did not birth Redmoon.  Blair Thomas and Laurie Macklin did, back in 1989 or 1990, depending on which document you refer to, and over a year before my first engagement. Nonetheless, I feel as though it is my blood.  For the last 17 years nurturing it has been my primary concern and occupation, my passion and deliverance.
 
It is difficult to avoid comparing Redmoon to my offspring.  It is simply too apt a metaphor to forego.  As my own children have grown, I see the parallel not as less true, but more.  Like childbirth, those first years seem insanely difficult and time consuming and mind altering, but they are a tease.  They are an allusion to the kind of effort that will be required later.  Each year the commitment needs to be redoubled.  The labor moves from the physical (staying up late, carrying heavy loads, maintaining orderliness and cleanliness) to something much more subtle and difficult and nuanced.
 
Over the past six months, this core team of Rebecca Hunter, Frank Maugeri, Vanessa Stalling, Angie Tillges and myself have been working intensively on a Long Range Plan for Redmoon.  We challenged ourselves to envision a sustainable organization around a single guiding principle:  creating art that promotes civic well being.  Following that principle, we were able to align all aspects of the organization (our community work, our pageants, our professional theater productions, our commissions and spectacle work) toward achieving one cohesive artistic program.  

Our Long Range Plan describes a mature Redmoon, focused, sustainable, and, most of all, relevant to a pivotal time on our city and nation’s history.  As we prepared this exciting Pathway to a Public Artform, I realized how healthy and strong Redmoon was.  It became clear to me that Redmoon no longer needs me as its primary advocate and manager.  It no longer needs me as a parent.
 
The core artistic team of Frank Maugeri, Vanessa Stalling, Angie Tillges and me have been together for over 7 years.  Frank has worked with the theater for almost 13 years, created numerous original works, performed in many more, and for the past seven years served as an associate artistic director overseeing our neighborhood arts programs and image making.
 
Rebecca Hunter, our new Executive Producer, came to Redmoon in 2005 with a tremendous background in artistic programming and management.  In England she worked for the UK Government initiative; Creative Partnerships, whose mission was to create artistic programming in partnership with the Education sector, of the highest order that was also woven into the community fabric.  Previously she was Artistic Director of an international children’s arts festival in Belfast, Northern Ireland.  She came to Redmoon with over ten years experience of working with non-profit arts organizations who specialized in multidisciplinary collaborations.  
 
For my part, I can't deny that I relish the opportunity to focus more purely on my artistic practice.  Organizational leadership, like parenting, is a heavy load.

To that end, I plan to continue to work with Redmoon and have accepted a newly created, part-time position of Resident Artist.  The kind of work Redmoon does and is poised to do is important and vital and, as far as I know, has no other practitioners in The United States. I look forward to working under the leadership of Frank and Rebecca, for whom I have great respect and trust.
 
I also look forward to working independently as an artist, as both a designer and director.  Designing the Gray Family Center at the Spertus Institute with architect Odile Compagnon was immensely gratifying.  Equally gratifying have been some of my international collaborations, especially with Dream Masons in Australia.  And it has been too very long since I had the opportunity to direct a play, a classic, with performers speaking words to one another as characters in a drama.
 
My travels have revealed to me the power of public art and I realize now that advocacy for accessible art and activating public space has been a large part of my drive with Redmoon.  I hope to continue my work as an advocate for public art.  I don't know what form that will take but it is a conviction that I must act upon.  If the foundation of democracy is a healthy exchange among its citizens, then there is no more important medium than public space, a place where people from diverse backgrounds and situations gather to witness their commonality.  The vitality of that essential democratic experience, one constantly undermined by commercial interests, can be best assured by high quality, well conceived art.  I want to promote that exchange however I can.
 
Redmoon was founded in 1990 to promote a unique brand of performance committed to the highest quality artistic product and to civic well-being.  Pulling with equal conviction from contemporary art forms and ancient theatrical forms, Redmoon has created a performance style that is equal parts pageantry, gadgetry, acrobatics, and ephemera.  Over the past decade we have garnered international attention for our theatrical productions like Hunchback, and our site specific performances which have been seen everywhere from the Jackson Park Lagoon to the facade of Chicago's Museum of Contemporary Art.  Over recent years Redmoon expand its International profile, participating in projects in Holland, Ireland, and Australia. 
 
I’m so proud of what we’ve accomplished already and so completely invested in where we are heading.
 
In a time of big changes, I’m trying to do my part.
 
Best to you,
 
Jim
 



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Jim Lasko
Artistic Director
Redmoon Theater

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