Save Links Hall
The Wrigleyville performance venue gets lost in the Cubs crowd.
Last month at Links Hall, while waiting for the start of a show by the esoteric performance-art duo Cupola Bobber, we overheard the following exchange between a couple of patrons:
“Do you want to grab a beer after?”
“Yeah…maybe not in this neighborhood?”
Links sits at the intersection of Sheffield and Newport Avenues, at the midpoint of Wrigleyville’s quarter-mile mecca for fans of the Cubs (and/or slippery nipples). It’s a neighborhood that doesn’t naturally funnel audience members looking for adventurous, challenging new performances; nor does it give those audiences many options for a postperformance drink. “It’s maybe not such a natural fit,” admits Sandy Gerding, board president and interim executive director.
Links has occupied the same building since its founding as an artists’ cooperative in 1978, before Wrigleyville evolved into a postgrad playground. Public performance programming began in 1980, fostering an environment for artists to experiment in dance, music and performance art. It’s a small (and often overlooked) organization, a fact that Gerding tries to overcome by partnering with the likes of the Museum of Contemporary Art and the 61-member National Performance Network. “We’ve graduated from being the smallest member organization,” she says with a chuckle. “I think we’re the third-smallest now.”
But with few resources for marketing, public shows tending toward the one-off or one-weekend (making media reviews tough to come by) and walk-in traffic nearly nonexistent, Gerding says the venue relies heavily on word-of-mouth to fill its 65-seat performance space—and filling it can be a feat when audience members must swim upstream against the Margaritaville-minded masses. So here’s the word of our mouths: If you’re looking for a Saturday-night activity in Wrigleyville that doesn’t involve Jäger bombs, chances are there’s something innovative happening at Links.
Get experimental any night at 3435 N Sheffield Ave (773-281-0824, linkshall.org).