The University of Iowa
Hancher Auditorium
2019-2020 Impact Report
A message from Hancher’s Chuck Swanson
What a difficult time we are living through! I sincerely hope you and yours are safe and well.
I’m pleased to share Hancher’s 2019-2020 Impact Report with you. We have been creating these reports for several years, but we’ve never had one quite like this! This report highlights the ways in which all of us at Hancher have worked together through these challenging moments to continue serving our campus and community.
We believe one of the most powerful things about the arts is the way in which they can deepen our sense of empathy for others. Empathy is certainly needed now as we navigate toward a new normal. We are deeply grateful for all the love and support we feel from our patrons. Please know that we send that love right back out to all of you—and we hope to welcome you back to Hancher Auditorium soon.
– Chuck Swanson
Hancher’s 2019-2020 season was filled with amazing performances as well as wonderful events connecting artists with UI students, K-12 students, and community members in deep and transformative ways.
Then the public health emergency ended our 2019-2020 season prematurely and has delayed the launch of in-person events for the 2020-2021 season.
Nevertheless, our commitment to serving our campus and community has not wavered.
Reflecting on 2019-2020 events
The world’s great artists come to campus
From Rosanne Cash to Audra McDonald; from Sankai Juku to Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater; from Chick Corea to Wynton Marsalis; from Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center to the Tomeka Reid Quartet—Hancher’s 2019-2020 included legends and innovators (and plenty of artists who are both).
A commitment to UI students and young people
Hancher is committed to connecting young people to the arts—including, of course, University of Iowa students. 2019-2020 saw the second edition of “Hancher is for Hawkeyes,” a special day for UI students to purchase tickets at deep discounts.
The season also featured the brand new “Brunch with Santa” event and the annual Hancher Guild Youth Art Show highlighting the work of talented children from many area schools.
Connecting with the UI Carver College of Medicine
During the 2019-2020 season, Hancher and the Carver College of Medicine collaborated on robust projects, which included famed director Anne Bogart of SITI Company addressing the Examined Life conference and Rosanne Cash participating in a panel discussion around one of her key interests—brain science.
Both collaborations were striking examples of the power at the intersection of the arts and the sciences—as well as Hancher’s commitment to collaborating with partners in diverse areas across the whole university.
Wholly committed to diversity, equity, and inclusion
Iowa City eighth graders experience Alvin Ailey
Hancher shares and amplifies a wide range of stories, traditions, and ideas. For example, all 8th graders in the Iowa City School District attended a school matinee performance by Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater, during which the history of the company—including its ongoing contributions to celebrating Black experience—was fully on display.
During the performance, students saw Ailey’s Revelations , a cornerstone work of modern dance and a powerful reflection on African American history.
Embracing Muslim artists via Embracing Complexity
Hancher’s Embracing Complexity project—which focuses on Muslim artists and artists from Muslim-majority countries—continued during the 2019-2020 season.
Social justice-focused comedian Negin Farsad and spoken word artists Syed Umar Warsi, Amir Safi, and Amal Kassir offered thought-provoking commentary on an array of issues and ideas, reminding us that complexity and diversity should be deeply valued. These artists also led workshops in area schools and community centers.
Celebrating diversity beyond the Hadley stage
Gina Chavez brought bilingual lyrics and a disregard for musical boundaries to the inaugural edition of Kids Club Hancher in Strauss Hall, highlighting the ways in which music brings us together.
In the Stanley Café, the amazing Luchadores Immigrants in Iowa exhibit, featuring photos and masks by area artist Miriam Alarcón Avila, deepened the concurrent presentation of the dance company CONTRA-TIEMPO and the band Las Cafeteras and the collaborative celebration of Latinx culture.
A leading role in COVID-19 response
Putting everyone’s health first
The Hancher staff has created a reopening manual grounded in science—and subject to change as new information becomes available. We are committed to minimizing health risks for audiences, artists, and staff.
Bringing the arts community together to learn
In May, Hancher collaborated with the UI’s College of Public Health to present “A Change Is Coming: Public Health Experts on Reopening Arts Facilities,” a webinar attended by more than 400 arts professionals in 40 states.
Meanwhile, Hancher has joined with presenters around the country to survey audiences about their level of eagerness to return to live performances.
Providing essential instructional space for UI students and faculty
As the fall 2020 semester has gotten underway, Hancher has been proud to live up to its reputation as the “largest classroom on campus.” UI student dancers and musicians have been taking socially distanced classes on the Hadley Stage and in Strauss Rehearsal Hall in collaboration with the UI’s Division of Performing Arts.
Raising spirits in a dispiriting time
Hancher commissioned Third Coast Percussion to create a video for faculty and staff in which the quartet played On Iowa! and the Iowa Fight Song on percussion instruments—many of which were made from simple household items.
Third Coast Percussion is also a key partner in the Hancher Youth & Family Talent Show, a project inviting families to share their talents on Hancher’s social media—and eventually on the Hancher stage.
The video series “Hancher Community Conversations” highlighted the deep impact Hancher programming has had on many over the years.
The upcoming installation of Wellspring, an outdoor sculpture garden featuring fish designed by Collette Hosmer, will remind visitors of the ways in which Hancher and the university are abundant sources of creativity.
New opportunities and new challenges
Finding new ways to do our work
We are exploring new and innovative ways to do our work, including online events and residencies, outdoor events, and more. We won’t just wait for things to return to “normal.”
Working to overcome challenges
In addition to the challenges caused by the public health emergency, Hancher is also facing a significant change to its financial model. The University of Iowa has asked us to become self-funding over the course of the next three years.
This change, which will ultimately result in a $1.5 million deficit to replace each season, rivals the flood of 2008 as a challenge to our work.
We need you now more than ever
To overcome the challenges we face, we need the support of our friends and patrons more than ever before. Fortunately, past challenges have taught us that our supporters are loyal, generous, and committed to the importance of Hancher Auditorium and the arts on the campus of the University of Iowa.
Thank you for supporting Hancher’s work
We face the ongoing and upcoming challenges with confidence because the support of the Hancher community ensures the positive impact of our work will be ongoing for the foreseeable future.