Press Release


Benefit Luncheon was held on Thursday, April 26, 2007 at the University Club of Chicago

CHICAGO – The Illinois Humanities Council honored Chicago Shakespeare Theater (CST) Artistic Director Barbara Gaines at a benefit luncheon at the University Club of Chicago (76 East Monroe Street, Chicago) on Thursday, April 26, 2007 at noon. Mayor Richard M. Daley served as the honorary chair for this event.

The luncheon raised over $100,000. All proceeds from the luncheon support the Illinois Humanities Council.

More than 275 guests dined on a cold cucumber soup, salmon with soba noodles, and trays of sweets, including miniature key lime tortes.

At the luncheon, Ms. Gaines received the Council’s 2007 Public Humanities Award. Given annually by the IHC, this award recognizes individuals and organizations for their contributions to public understanding of the role the humanities play in transforming lives and strengthening communities.

Greg Vinkler, the veteran Chicago Shakespeare Theater actor who is currently portraying Ulysses in CST’s 20th anniversary production of Troilus and Cressida, spoke to the attendees and did a reading in honor of Gaines.

Gaines is Artistic Director and founder of Chicago Shakespeare Theater, where she has directed more than 30 of Shakespeare’s plays. Her work has been honored with Jeff Awards for Best Production (Hamlet, The Tale of Cymbeline, and King Lear) and for Best Director (The Tale of Cymbeline and King Lear). In 2006, Ms. Gaines was awarded the prestigious Honorary OBE (Officer of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire) in recognition of her contributions strengthening British-American cultural relations. She serves on the Shakespearean Council of Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre in London and on Northwestern University’s Board of Trustees. She is a member of the Cultural Affairs Advisory Board for the City of Chicago, and has served on panels for the National Endowment for the Arts.

“We are thrilled to honor Barbara Gaines. As Artistic Director of the Chicago Shakespeare Theater, she has led the way in making Shakespeare come to life on the stage for people of all ages. With this award we honor the work she has done with teachers and students, guaranteeing that the humanities continue to be at the core of education,” said Illinois Humanities Council Executive Director Kristina A. Valaitis.

“On Navy Pier, Chicago Shakespeare Theater is at the very heart of our city life, helping us see that Shakespeare’s great themes affect us as individuals and as citizens: What does it mean to be human? What does it mean to be a responsible member of a community? What is just?” said Arthur M. Sussman, Illinois Humanities Council Board Chair.

The Illinois Humanities Council broadens intellectual horizons by creating educational opportunities in the humanities for all Illinoisans. Whether deepening our understanding of the history right under our feet, or of the culture and experiences of our neighbors, Council programs bring scholars together with Illinoisans from all walks of life to reflect, think critically, and actively exchange ideas about what is important to all of us. Through film, performance, exhibitions, lectures, seminars, and public forums, the Council is a catalyst for imaginative ventures of the mind and heart. Organized in 1973 as a state affiliate of the National Endowment for the Humanities, the Councilis an independent, nonprofit educational organization, 501 [c] 3.

The Council‘s Chairman is Arthur M. Sussman. Other Board officers include: Cheryl Johnson-Odim, Frank Cizon, and Gayl S. Pyatt. Leadership for the Public Humanities Award luncheon includes Council Board members Jack Wing (past Council Board Chair). For more information on this event, call the Council at (312) 422-5580, or visit


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