The Pivot Arts Festival is an annual celebration of innovative performance throughout Chicago’s Uptown & Edgewater neighborhoods. Over two weeks, audiences have the opportunity to see and hear unique music, theater, dance, puppetry, all ages shows, comedy and more. We looked at festivals in other cities like New York’s Under the Radar, Austin’s Fusebox Festival, Portland’s Time Based Arts Festival and said, Chicago needs to be a part of this circuit of curated festivals whose focus is on high quality, innovative work.

In 2013 we produced our first festival whose theme was “Reigniting the Vaudeville Era in Uptown and Edgewater.” We had top notch Chicago groups like Mucca Pazza, a twenty-eight piece punk marching band; Manual Cinema; Theater Oobleck; Mad Shak Dance; RE Dance and so many others including an entire weekend of “Art in the Parking Lot” — performances in an empty parking lot in Uptown. We converted an emtpy bank building that had been originally built as a vaudeville theater into a performance space and used multiple historic buildings.

In 2014 the festival theme was “Art Meets Science” and we curated multiple shows around science themes from the Acoustics of House (a house music dance party) to the Seldoms’ Exit Disclaimer: Science and Fiction Ahead (a dance piece about climate change) the festival showcased multiple performances including Akayo Kato’s The Incidents which was listed as one of the Top Ten Dance Performances by the Chicago Tribune.

The festival’s partnership with Loyola University has broadened the type of work we are able to program thanks to the use of their beautiful Mundelein Center for the Arts. In 2015 the Pivot Arts Festival included our first-ever “Celebrate Community!” Parade along with multiple dance and theater performances from Lucky Plush Productions to Dean Evans’ Honeybuns.

Festival Sponsors


Friends of the Festival

Chicago River Museum
Lady Gregory
Lovely Bakery
Flatts & Sharpe
Goodman Theatre
Justin Roberts
McCormick Bridgehouse
Million Dollar Quartet
Nico Osteria
Robert Jeffrey
Salon Echo
Swedish Museum
Timeline Theatre
Wilde Bar & Restaurant