Last summer the Elastic Arts Foundation suffered many stifling nights thanks to windows that didn’t open and a failed HVAC system that left its space with no air-conditioning. In November the 13-year-old nonprofit pulled the plug on its lease at 2830 N. Milwaukee, its home since 2006, and in March it reopened around the corner at 3429 W. Diversey—with 240 percent more legal audience capacity and almost 70 percent more floor space. The new venue has a larger "stage" (not a raised platform but a section of the main floor covered by five living-room rugs) and a classy art-gallery look, with a clean-lined white merch counter, tasteful track lighting, and handsome wooden benches and stools. An invaluable incubator for the avant-garde, Elastic hosts visual art, theater, film, readings, and other types of performance as well as music—but music is where it goes above and beyond the call of duty, devoting series to jazz, improvisation, electroacoustic music, experimental hip-hop, singer-songwriter fare, activist Latin American music, and more. The organization's nonprofit status keeps commercial compromise at bay, and its all-ages admission policy—whose importance I can't overstate—helps it nurture Chicago's next generation of artsy, free-thinking weirdos.
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