Homeroom Chicago

Margaret Ann Stewart

Andy Rosenstein

Aaron Rodgers, one of the founders of Homeroom Chicago, said, “Homeroom wants to work and advocate for artists. Our goal is to put on well attended events with high quality art, and ensure that artists are paid for the work.” Rodgers believes that an organization like Homeroom Chicago is a much needed outlet for artists to have their work seen, who might not have otherwise had an opportunity due to cost. To that end, Homeroom Chicago is a “not-for-profit producing organization promoting new creative content.” What Homeroom Chicago does is provide the opportunity for those that produce creative content to build artist networks, as well as serve to establish “venues” where artists can perform their work.

“Payment for work” translates into Homeroom Chicago raising funds for artists. Rodgers indicated, “Most of our funding comes from private donors, and most of that money goes directly to artists. Some of the money goes to pay for the venues, but most venues simply take their share from the bar or the door. Most of our donors, so far, are work colleagues, family friends or patrons of the arts that we have met through our work in the arts community over the years.” The funding that is raised supports “artists, print makers and venues, in that order.” Rodgers stated.

According to Rodgers, Homeroom Chicago elected not to establish its own venue so that more of the funds that were raised went to artists. In all Homeroom Chicago has supported “six different venues” including Elastic Arts, the Hungry Brain, the Nightingale and the ViaDuct, that have provided the performance space for 40 artists and six curators over the course of the last 18 months.

Micheal Robbins and Keidra Chaney

Artists must have audience appeal in order to be considered by Homeroom Chicago for financial assistance. Rodgers stated that “we book the artists that we feel are not only doing interesting work, but will also put on a good show and attract audience members.” Homeroom then considers the venue and does “extensive promoting” for the event. Those artists that are selected are also expected to promote their performances. In addition, Rodgers stipulated, “Every payment deal we have is unique, but ultimately we try to at least break even with our events through ticket sales. If we do not cover the costs, the artists and venues are still paid. That is one of our biggest contributions — guaranteeing payment to performers. But we always strive to cover the costs of artists and venue through audience support.”

Rodgers proclaimed, “Our Songwriter Showcase and Open Mic and 101 Lecture Series are two of our most successful and consistent series. Scott Mason and Kent Lambert packed Elastic Arts for our Songwriter Showcase. Our Juggalos 101 was standing room only at the Hungry Brain. We don’t work with same artists over and over again. Instead, we are constantly trying to reach out to new artists that fit well into our series.”

Artists interested in having their work considered by Homeroom Chicago can contact Aaron Rodgers directly at aaron@homeroomchicago.org. There is no formal application process for artists, according to Rodgers, there is only the ability of the artist to demonstrate the high quality of his or her work.