Stories by Yahya Salem

The view from the stage out into the nearly empty seats of a concert hall. (Kevin Schmid / Unsplash)

Chicago’s Theater Community Pivoted During the Pandemic. Now Leaders Have to Adjust to New Audience Habits

When the COVID-19 lockdown hit in March 2020, Chicago’s artistic productions were abruptly placed on hold. Now more than two years later, theater companies are evaluating a path forward with an audience that has new expectations. 

School’s back in session, and Illinois Green Alliance is kicking off the third cycle of the Illinois Green Schools Project. This year’s theme is “Path to Zero,” referring to the goal of net zero carbon emissions. (Credit: Tracy Gordon)

Illinois Green Schools Project Enters Third Year With Goal of Reducing Carbon Emissions

As part of the Green Schools Project, schools engage in project-based challenges to develop and implement creative, low-cost, sustainable practices. Those schools receive resources and support from the Illinois Green Alliance to collaborate on a year-long project which they can present at the end of the school year.

The century-old Reebie Storage Warehouse in Lincoln Park (Credit: Jessica Mlinaric)

Interactive Book Aims to Get Chicagoans and Visitors Out to City’s Lesser-Known Treasures

In Jessica Mlinaric’s latest book, decipher rhyming riddles and visual clues that lead to over 300 little-known Chicago attractions ranging from architectural oddities to public artworks to nature areas and more.

C2E2 recommended fans wear masks inside the exhibition halls on Aug. 6, 2022. (Yahya Salem / WTTW News)

Pop Culture Fans Show Out at Chicago Comic and Entertainment Expo

This year’s C2E2 took place in the summer, less than eight months after its 2021 iteration, as organizers gradually revert to the event’s original spring calendar, which was disrupted due to COVID-19 restrictions.

CTA President Norval Carter appears on “Chicago Tonight” on Aug. 3, 2022. (WTTW News)

CTA President Dorval Carter Details Efforts to Combat Crime, Workforce Shortage

In an appearance on “Chicago Tonight,” CTA President Dorval Carter said the agency is working closely with the Chicago Police Department to deploy additional resources to address crime concerns. Recruitment efforts are also underway to help with a worker shortage. 

(WTTW News)

Chicago Awards $6.5M in CityArts Grants to Nonprofit Organizations

Funding for the CityArts Program increased by 280% in 2022, climbing from $1.7 million in 2021 to $6.5 million, according to a news release. The awards follow the announcement that $26 million will be provided in new arts and culture investments as part of the city’s 2022 budget.

(Courtesy DJ Livia)

After Summer of High-Profile Gigs, 15-Year-Old DJ Livia Returns for Chicago Area Performance July 30

From homelessness to house parties to the major leagues. From Berwyn to Hollywood. DJ Livia has a life full of experiences and had worked with an impressive list of celebrities despite being only 15 years old.

1st-8th grade YMCA summer program students at Cullen Elementary get creative at a Summer 2022 Spoken Word Field Trip workshop in Chicago's Roseland neighborhood. (Courtesy 826CHI)

Chicago Students Become Published Authors with Help from Nonprofit

Three new publications by Chicago students are available for pre-order now through the work of nonprofit 826CHI, which partners with Chicago Public Schools to provide free, project-based field trips to CPS classrooms, as well as in-school programming.

(WTTW News)

After Low Primary Turnout, Officials and Advocates Hope to Ramp Up Voter Interest in Future Elections

Depending on who you ask, the unusual timing of the elections, issues with voters’ access to the polls, and election judges resigning right before polls open all contributed to the low turnout among Chicago and suburban Cook County’s 3.1 million registered voters. 

A memorial for the deceased victims of the Highland Park shooting. (WTTW News)

How to Help Highland Park Victims: List of Approved GoFundMe Campaigns

Seven people were killed and more than 30 were injured in a mass shooting at Highland Park’s Fourth of July parade on Monday. In the day since, numerous campaigns are being set up to help the victims and provide resources to affected families.

Attendees browse the Chicago Transformation Collab festival on June 25, 2022, which featured an array of local businesses, live art and panel discussions with community leaders. (Yahya Salem / WTTW News)

Chicago Summit Brings Together Advocacy Groups, Creators to Highlight Role of Storytelling in Criminal Justice Reform

The overarching themes of the three-day event revolved around the role of storytelling and art in criminal justice organizing. The summit included training sessions and workshops led by local activists, defense attorneys and media professionals with the aim of educating the invited participants on topics such as campaign strategies, effective storytelling, and enhancing alignment across communities.