DePaul MFA graduate named Joffrey Ballet’s assistant director of grants and partnerships


Courtesy of The Silverman Group.

DePaul MFA Graduate (’20) Edward McCreary began work last week as the Assistant Director of Grants and Partnerships at the Joffrey Ballet.

When the Covid-19 pandemic began, few industries lost their identity as quickly as the performing arts. Virtual performances took over across all forms of the arts, putting artists and those in the industry in an odd position. Persevering, people like DePaul MFA Arts Leadership 2020 graduate Edward McCreary navigated their way through the changing tides. 

“I certainly had some anxieties graduating into the performing arts field,” McCreary said. “But one of the things that drew me to Chicago was the breadth of the vibrant cultural landscape. I felt confident that with such a resilient kind of art form, and in what I’d seen from some of the arts organizations that I’ve connected with, that things were gonna come back back around.”

McCreary worked as an Arts Leadership fellow at the Chicago Shakespeare Theater during his graduate studies, a program that goes hand in hand with DePaul. Prior to that, he worked as an actor in Atlanta, his hometown, for five years after graduating from the University of Georgia with a double major in theater and economics. In April, he landed a job that utilized both those studies: assistant director of grants and partnerships at the Joffrey Ballet of Chicago.

It can seem like a lot, writing grant applications and looking for funding and partnerships, especially in an uncertain economy. Yet McCreary finds the passion for the arts overwhelm any anxieties. 

“While it can be daunting at times, it’s also really exciting, because a lot of the response you get is finding people who recognize the intrinsic value of the art and have a huge willingness to generously support it,” he said. 

He will focus on fundraising for the Joffrey, which cooperates with corporations, foundations and the government to receive funds. The pandemic put a pause to live performances and large productions, but the Joffrey recently started to move back to in-person classes as well as virtual after school programs for young Chicago students. The community-driven focus McCreary sees is part of what drew him to the position, more so than just the reputation of artistry there. 

“I think honestly that that’s the future for a lot of arts organizations,” he said. “Not only really connecting with the communities that they serve, but building inspiration for the art form for future audiences.”

With over 70 percent of seniors vaccinated in Illinois, the state can start to move to the Bridge phase of reopening, where theaters and performing arts can open to 60 percent capacity. If the vaccination rate continues to climb, and cases and hospitalizations go down, the path back to no capacity limits and a normal arts landscape will be reasonable, especially by fall and winter.

“There’s not only going to be hopefully the ability for us to open, but an excitement from arts makers and our audiences,” McCreary said. “That’s what we’re really hopeful for is that everyone is as ready to get out there as we are. So our excitement to be back on stage with the excitement of our audiences to come back, hopefully will converge into a successful season.”