The Story of HotHouse.

We are a consortium of affiliated people from broad and diverse backgrounds who come together out of an interest in reclaiming and developing sustainable urban environments for progressive culture. Concurrent with the work we are undertaking toward the development of the new cultural campus, we present performances, exhibitions and other cultural and humanities events that build diverse audiences, foster international exchange and support grassroots development and social justice activism throughout the region.

People Dancing during HotHouse Event

We are interested in facilitating dialogues, building alliances and exchanging practices with similar initiatives worldwide.


         ne of the hallmarks of the popularity of HotHouse was its position as a fixture in its community, a venue for public interaction among various and disparate communities. When the HotHouse space on Balbo closed, a void was created. The all-purpose community space and the kinds of international cultural exchanges it had facilitated were lost. This void has largely remained unfulfilled. Locally, multiple cohorts of grassroots activists, artists, and ad-hoc community groups are seeking to purchase a permanent site to collectively replace the kind of comprehensive resources HotHouse had extended.

Singer looking towards the sky, eyes closed.
Gathering of HotHouse associates, having a meal.
Woman playing bongos

Our Mission.

HotHouse’s mission is to instigate, produce and otherwise facilitate participatory multi-disciplinary events that create opportunities for high caliber artistic practices; that extend our collective resources into underserved communities and foster the international exchange of ideas and methods within the context of progressive social change praxis.

The New HotHouse.

HotHouse was an institution that fundamentally changed the paradigm of community-based cultural centers in Chicago. HotHouse primarily showcased artists who were working in non-commercial genres, whose work was experimental, or from populations who were under-recognized and disenfranchised by either other arts institutions or the commercial marketplace. Each year, HotHouse hosted over 500 multi-arts programs that attracted 70,000 people. By 2006, HotHouse had evolved into a $2M organization employing 45 people and had become one of the country’s most well regarded centers for international culture. The new HotHouse attenuates the previous iterations of this iconic cultural center that was first located in Wicker Park (1987-1995) and then in downtown Chicago until early 2007.

Two men having a conversation, laughing.
Selfie with group of people after concert.
Group of people posing with instruments.

Join Us.

HotHouse is always seeking bright, self-motivated and reliable people to join our team. In general, we are looking for board members, advisory board and committee members, interns, volunteers, and donors. If you have about 6 hours a month, wish to meet an enthusiastic group of talented folks and want to get involved in a great project– contact us! Please send us a brief note describing what your interest is in our organization and what skills or resources you wish to contribute. If you have a resume or CV that you can attach that will be helpful. Many thanks for your interest.

Program Ideas.

If you are a performer, guest curator, exhibitor or other party interested in collaborating with HotHouse, please send: a short bio statement or press kit in English, recent sample of your work, time available and fee expectations to HotHouse:


HotHouse recognizes the land where we currently practice our work was occupied by the peoples of the Kiikaapoi (Kickapoo), Peoria, Bodéwadmiakiwen (Potawatomi), and Miami societies. We pledge to study the violence that contributed to the colonization of these lands and through our work seek to create redress and reparations.

Explore Our History.