The University of Iowa
Hancher Auditorium
2020-21 Impact Report
A Message from Hancher’s Chuck Swanson
Challenges can lead to productive reflection and reimagining. That has certainly been true at Hancher Auditorium during the public health emergency.
As has been amply demonstrated in the past, the Hancher staff is nothing if not creative and resilient. We have spent the last several months reimagining the way we do our work, collaborating across the staff to create a new work plan for Hancher going forward. Just as importantly, we spent significant time reminding ourselves just why we do our work.
The question of why is answered in the refreshing of our mission, vision, and values. You can find these important markers of our commitments to the campus, community, and state elsewhere on our website.
In this 2020-2021 Impact Report, we share highlights of an unusual—but still deeply meaningful—period in which we maintained our unshakeable dedication to the arts, artists, and audiences.
Dedicated to Dance
In keeping with our reputation as the “largest classroom on campus,” we hosted UI dance students and faculty throughout the 2020-2021 academic year on both the Hadley Stage and in Strauss Rehearsal Hall.
I am incredibly grateful for the opportunity to take class in Hancher this year. Being able to dance in such a beautiful space provided me with the inspiration and passion I needed to get through this difficult year.
Veronica Patterson
To be able to start off my days dancing on a gorgeous and spacious stage allowed me to experience utter joy in my dancing. Without having this space, my first year in the dance department would’ve been completely online, and I don’t know how I would have coped.
Veronica Patterson
UI Dance Students participated in Hancher Illuminated in October of 2020 and performed during the Dance Into Spring tour—a collaboration of Hancher and Ballet Des Moines that saw performances in Des Moines, on the Hancher Green, and in Muscatine—in April of 2021.
On July 4, Hancher presented American Ballet Theatre’s ABT Across America tour to an audience of more than 2,000. Hancher was one of only eight stops on this impressive tour by one of the world’s great ballet companies.
Dedicated to Diversity
Hancher’s online performances reinforced our commitment to sharing a range of voices in the hope of starting conversations, fostering empathy, and building community.
Hancher was the lead commissioner of the Step Afrika! short film Stono, which connected the Stono Rebellion of 1739 with the ongoing pursuit of social justice. Iowa City Mayor Bruce Teague participated in a panel discussion with scholars and artists following the online premiere of the film.
Hancher presented the online premiere of Wynton Marsalis’ composition The Democracy! Suite, performed by Marsalis and the Jazz at Lincoln Center Septet. This reflection on the ways in which the country does—and does not—live up to its high ideals further solidifies Marsalis’ role as a significant and insightful composer.
An online concert by violinist and composer Layale Chaker and her quintet featured the premiere of new music—as well as a special guest appearance by her husband, clarinetist Kinan Azmeh. The concert was an extension of Hancher’s Embracing Complexity project which fosters Iowans’ understanding of contemporary Islamic cultures and Muslim identity.
Dedicated to Discovery
The public health emergency meant, of course, that people were staying home—but also craving the connection that the arts can create. The Hancher staff sought out new ways to make those connections via online presentations and unique outdoor experiences. Driven by a spirit of discovery, we were able to continue to nourish our community in this essential way. Our facility was closed, but our work was ongoing.
As we prepare to reopen the auditorium to welcome artists and audiences, we are well aware that much has changed since we were last able to gather together at Hancher Auditorium. Nevertheless, in this new moment, we remain convinced that the arts can transform the lives of individuals and communities—and we look forward to discovering new and exciting ways to spark those transformations in the future.
Thank You for Your Dedication!
Hancher donors have always made our work possible—and this was no less true during this unusual period in Hancher history. We are so very grateful to everyone who donates to Hancher—as well as to everyone who attends Hancher performances (whether online or in person).
We would also like to take this opportunity to welcome Dr. Barbara Wilson to the University of Iowa as our 22nd president. We proudly bear the name of a UI president who had a stirring vision for the arts on campus, and we look forward to working with President Wilson to maintain the key role the arts have long played at the University of Iowa.