CHRP Hires Executive Director

JAC Communications / Chicago, IL
By Jill Chukerman

In a major step forward as the nation’s premier presenter and producer of American tap and contemporary percussive arts, as well as its leadership role in facilitating artistic collaboration, Chicago Human Rhythm Project has hired Frank Sonntag as its executive director. The search process was funded by a capacity development grant from the MacArthur Fund for Arts and Culture at Prince, and Sonntag’s position is funded by a major, multi-year gift from CHRP Board Chair Elaine Cohen and her husband Arlen Rubin. Sonntag started in the new position June 4.
“After conducting an exhaustive national search, Frank was clearly the best possible choice for CHRP at a critical time in our organization’s evolution,” said CHRP Founder and Director Lane Alexander. “We’re opening a new space in the heart of Chicago in a long-term collaboration with multiple dance organizations; growing our partnership with the China Arts and Entertainment Group (see below); expanding our education programming; debuting at the Kennedy and Lincoln Centers in December and March, respectively—it couldn’t be busier for CHRP. Frank is a heavy hitter who can lead CHRP during a time of extraordinary opportunity. I’m also thrilled because Frank’s management and fundraising expertise will allow me to refocus my energy on the education, performance and outreach programs that are at the heart of CHRP’s mission and where my real passion and talents lie.”
Sonntag brings a tremendous wealth of experience to CHRP, most recently overseeing the successful opening of the $42 million Cowles Center for Dance and the Performing Arts in Minneapolis, as well as previously serving as executive director at the Parsons Dance Foundation and Dance St. Louis. He also served as managing director at the Brooklyn Center for the Performing Arts and held senior management positions with the New York Foundation for the Arts and Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS.
Sonntag will oversee institutional development, fundraising and strategic planning for all of CHRP’s activities, including its four primary annual events—Global Rhythms, the Winter Tap JAMboree, Windy City Rhythms and Rhythm World—as well as the establishment and imminent opening of CHRP’s new Collaborative Space for Sustainable Development (working title), an education, rehearsal and administrative facility for several Chicago arts organizations.
“I am quite impressed with CHRP for many reasons,” says Sonntag, “including its many meaningful partnerships across a broad spectrum of the community. In addition to continuing programs that have served audiences and young people in very important ways, the artistic and board leadership are now admirably seizing the opportunity to provide essential services that will strengthen other medium-sized Chicago cultural institutions by enabling them to better serve their respective constituencies. I am very excited to play an important role in leading CHRP at such an exciting time!”