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#406 The Lyric Opera of Chicago's EmpowerYouth! Program


Crystal Coats, Interim Director of Lyric Unlimited
Angela Hamilton, the Community Programs Coordinator

How do people create community when they physically can’t be together? That was the challenge that Crystal Coats and Angela Hamilton of the Lyric Opera of Chicago faced this spring. When COVID-19 meant participants had to stay home, the future of Lyric Unlimited’s community programming was uncertain. But Coats, the Interim Director of Lyric Unlimited, and Hamilton, the Community Programs Coordinator, shifted their programming to go virtual.

Lyric’s EmpowerYouth!: Igniting Creativity Through the Arts program is a partnership with the Chicago Urban League that immerses high school students in the creation and performance of an original production. Beginning in mid-March, facilitators of the program held weekly sessions virtually, working tirelessly to maintain program goals, consistency and normalcy for the participants, and the artistic integrity that made this program collaborative and heartfelt. Participants began building a final presentation that accurately conveyed their eight months of vigorous work, vulnerability and creativity. They knew the task of translating their creative visions to a digital format, accessible to their friends and family, would not be easy.

In this presentation, Coats and Hamilton will talk about the process of doing art online, keeping young people engaged, and maintaining community during a pandemic.

ASL This event will not have an American Sign Language interpreter.