Pivot Arts creates and presents adventurous and multidisciplinary performance often in unusual spaces. We develop and produce new works throughout the year culminating in an festival of contemporary performance. Our vision is that of a vibrant community where collaborations between artists, businesses and organizations bring diverse people together through unique performance events.

Pivot Arts was formed in September 2012 as a pivot point, or central hub, that could connect innovative arts partners and programming. We support multidisciplinary artists through our arts incubator program and foster the creation of imaginative performance events. In addition to the Pivot Arts Festival, we host a Live Talk series that includes performances and discussions, we also create site-specific works and performance events/tours.

Leadership at Pivot Arts

Julieanne Ehre
Julieanne Ehre is the founder and the director of Pivot Arts. She both leads the organization and curates/produces performances including the Pivot Arts Festival, Live Talk series, “Celebrate Community!” Parade and site-specific works. She was the NEA/TCG New Generations “Future Leaders” Fellow at the Goodman Theatre where she served as Producer on Latino Festival, New Stages Series and conceived of and produced the Goodman’s Artists Talk series — producing discussions with artists such as Philip Seymour Hoffman. At the Goodman, she focused on International Initiatives including the Global Exploration of Eugene O’Neill with the Wooster Group, Ivo van Hove and other world-class artists. Julieanne served as a delegate to the Santiago a Mil Festival in Chile and the ITI World Theater Congress in Xiamen, China through Theater Communications Group and was the Co-Chair of the Arts and Culture Committee for Chicago’s 48th Ward. As the Artistic Director of Greasy Joan & Co. for five years, she won an “Abbey Award” from the Arts and Business Council for the organization’s strategic planning. At Greasy Joan, she directed and produced critically acclaimed and premiere adaptations of classic plays and worked as a freelance theater director. Ehre holds an MFA in Directing from Northwestern University and a BA in Anthropology from Grinnell College.

Artistic Associates

Artistic Associates of Pivot Arts curate performances, work with the organization as lead artists on a project and advise the organization.

Quenna Lené Barrett
Quenna Lené Barrett is a theater artist and practitioner, who founded two Theatre of the Oppressed-based programs to amplify teens’ voice and hold space to rehearse, tell, and change the stories of their lives. She is an actress, director, teaching artist, cultural fieldworker, TO practitioner, and organizer. Recent Chicago performance and directorial credits include: Eclipsed at Pegasus (AD), Radio Golf at Court Theatre (u/s), This Boat Called My Body and First with FYI (Director), Theatre Unspeakable’s Moon Shot and American Revolution. Quenna is a two-time DCASE Individual Artist Program grant awardee, was a recent Santa Fe Art Institute Equal Justice resident, and is a current artist-in-residence with Free Street Theatre. Quenna received her BFA from NYU Tisch in Drama, her MA in Applied Theatre from the University of Southern California, and is currently pursuing a doctorate of education in Educational Theatre for Colleges and Communities at NYU Steinhardt. She is Goodman Theatre’s new Associate Director of Education, and co-curator for Theatre on the Lake.

Jo Catell
Jo’s projects include EPIC OF SCALE for Chicago Children’s Theater, LA RUTA by Isaac Gomez as part of the Pivot Arts incubator program, ME YOU US THEM by Andrea Lepcio, which received a workshop presentations at Cherry Lane, NYC, and dandypunk’s HEARTCORPS for Sundance 2017. Other directing credits include: WILL WORK FOR by Dacyl Acevedo (‘Best of Fringe’, Washington D.C.), GUERA by Lisandra Tena, FOR LOVE by Laoisa Sexton (Drilling Company/1st Irish Theatre Festival), which then went onto perform at the Irish Repertory Theatre, NYC & tour Ireland, Urban Sketch Show for the BBC, SKYSCRAPING by Tim Stimpson (Soho Theatre then transferred to Southwark Playhouse, London), and 18:1-7 by James Cattell, the first digital art installation into Canterbury Cathedral.

Isaac Gomez
Isaac Gomez is a playwright, dramaturg, and served as director of new play development at the award-winning Victory Gardens Theater in Chicago. His play LA RUTA was developed as part of the Pivot Arts incubator program and premieres at Steppenwolf Theater in 2018/19. Isaac is a Resident Playwright at Chicago Dramatists, Co-Creative Director at the Alliance of Latinx Theatre Artists in Chicago (ALTA) where he runs and is a participant of El Semillero: ALTA Chicago’s Latino Playwrights Circle, an Artistic Associate of Teatro Vista, an Artistic Associate of Pivot Arts, a steering committee member of the Latinx Theatre Commons (LTC) and an artistic community member at The Hypocrites in Chicago.

Ayako Kato
Ayako is an award-winning, Chicago-based dancer and choreographer who has twice premiered work as part of the Pivot Arts Festival. Since 1998, she has been the artistic director of Ayako Kato/Art Union Humanscape, performing throughout the United States, Japan, and Europe. Ayako was selected as one of the Players 2018: The Fifty People Who Really Perform For Chicago by Newcity. She has received the Links Hall Co-MISSION Fellowship, 3Arts Residency Fellowship, 3Arts Award in Dance, and a Meier Achievement Award. Since 2010, Ayako has been an artist-in-residence at the Hamlin Park Fieldhouse Theater under Chicago Moving Company’s Dance Shelter Program. She holds an MFA in Dance from the University of Michigan and a certificate from the Institute for Curatorial Practice in Performance at Wesleyan University.

Sharon Lanza
Sharon has worked professionally for many years as an actor, writer, director, dancer, choreographer, singer, lyricist and more, working extensively with Redmoon Theater and Mucca Pazza. Her lyrics co-write “Night Sky” was featured in the 2010 film “Norman” and her lyrics co-write “Sifters” is on the Andrew Bird album “Break it Yourself.” Her most recent lyrics appear on the 2014 Mucca Pazza record “L.Y.A” and in the song “Tri Twi” on the 2015 Roommate album “Make Like.” She wrote, cast and costumed the video for the Andrew Bird’s “Fitz and the Dizzyspells”, assisted on the video for Mucca Pazza’s “Boss Taurus” with Jim Newberry, and co produced the Mucca Pazza “Tube Sock Tango” video. As the proud founding cheerleader of Chicago’s punk rock marching band, Mucca Pazza, Sharon has performed at Orchestra Hall at Chicago’s Symphony Center, as a visiting artist at Mass MoCA, the Pritzker Pavillion at Millennium Park, the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts,and Lincoln Center among many other venues.

Olivia Lilley
Olivia is an Iranian-Irish American director, writer, and producer. In 2017, she produced her new play She Loves New York through the Pivot Arts Incubator Program. Olivia is the founding Artistic Director of The Runaways Lab Theatre—voted Best New Theatre Company in 2014 by The Chicago Reader—head of Pop Magic Productions, and Artistic Director of The Prop Thtr. Her work runs the gamut from irreverent takes on classic texts to dance theatre biographies to new plays that tackle contemporary intersectional issues. Olivia received her BFA in Directing from Carnegie Mellon School of Drama.

Jessica Marasa
Jessica is the founder of The Watering Can, a dance and movement company promoting holistic health and well-being. She has been a member of the Chicago dance community since 2007, performing with Ayako Kato, Kristina Isabelle, Lara Oppenheimer, Sarah Gottlieb, Khecari, Same Planet Different World, and Collision Theory. From 2008-2014, Jessica was an ensemble member and collaborator with Molly Shanahan Mad Shak. She has performed at Stage 773, Links Hall, Hamlin Park, and Signal Ensemble Theatre. Jessica taught modern, ballet, jazz, and yoga at the University of Chicago, and is currently working toward the completion of a Somatic Movement Educator certification in the stud of Body Mind Centering.

Jill Olson
Jill is the founder and producer of STORYTOWN. She is the Chicago Director of Funny Bones Improv bringing improv and laughter to children in hospitals and their care givers. Jill is an Improv Professor of Merriment with the Laughing Academy and teaches theater with Dream Big Performing Arts Workshop. Jill Olson has served as Program Coordinator for This Is ME and Child Whisperer for The Chicago Sketch Comedy Festival. Jill Olson is graduated from Towson University with BA in Theater Arts. She moved to Chicago and studied improvisation and is a graduate of the Second City Conservatory and iO Training Program.

Tanya Palmer
Tanya Palmer is the Producer and Director of new play development at Goodman Theatre, where she coordinates New Stages, the theater’s new play program, and has served as the production dramaturg on a number of plays including the world premieres of Vigils by Noah Haidle, Magnolia by Regina Taylor, The Long Red Road by Brett C. Leonard and the Pulitzer Prize–winning Ruined by Lynn Nottage. Tanya has created and collaborated on multiple Pivot Arts projects including The Sadness Show, The Memory Tour and Don’t Look Back/Must Look Back. Prior to her arrival in Chicago, she served as the director of new play development at Actors Theatre of Louisville, where she led the reading and selection process for the Humana Festival of New American Plays. She is the co-editor, with Amy Wegener and Adrien-Alice Hansel, of four collections of Humana Festival plays, published by Smith & Kraus, as well as two collections of 10-minute plays published by Samuel French. Originally from Calgary, Alberta, Canada, she holds an MFA in playwriting from York University in Toronto.






Julieanne Ehre
Pivot Arts

Michelle Erikson
Operations & Procurement Expert
Elkay Manufacturing

Dr. Mark E. Lococo
Director of Theatre
Loyola University Chicago

Karen Salmon
Business Consultant

Elizabeth White
Clinical Social Worker


Advisory Board

April Browning
Loyola University Chicago

Alderman James Cappleman
46th Ward

Sarah Gabel
Loyola University Chicago

Peter Kuntz
Lurie Children’s Hospital

Kristin Larsen
Arts and Business Council

Alderman Harry Osterman
48th Ward

Summur Roberts
Loyola University Chicago

Michael Rohd
Sojourn  Theatre

Steve Scott
Goodman Theatre

Amy Wilkinson
Loyola University Chicago

We are currently building our board of directors. Serving on the board of Pivot Arts is great way for you to contribute to your community and to the arts, email julieanne@pivotarts.org to learn more!

Other questions about Pivot?  Send an email to info@pivotarts.org. And be sure to sign our mailing list, we won’t spam you and it’s the best way to keep informed about upcoming events: https://pivotarts.org/updates/