Lifeline Theater (left) and Jackalope Theater have been awarded grant money from celebrity chef Rick Bayless' foundation. Credit: Courtesy Google Maps/Facebook

EDGEWATER — Celebrity chef Rick Bayless has awarded two theaters in Edgewater and Rogers Park a total of $300,000 in grant funding.

The newest recipients of the Bayless Family Foundation’s “Stepping Stone” grants are Lifeline Theatre in Rogers Park and Jackalope Theatre Company in Edgewater. Each theater will get $150,000 over three years, the foundation announced Thursday.

“Our foundation continues to shine a spotlight on the city’s vibrant, thrilling and daring theater scene,” Bayless, who started the foundation in 2017, said in a statement. “We hope our grants help these companies thrive now and in the future.”

Both theater companies applied for the grants and have plans to increase administrative staff as the seek to grow, the foundation said.

Lifeline Theatre was founded in 1982 by five Northwest University graduates. Three years later, the company moved to its current home, a converted ComEd substation at 6912 N. Glenwood in Rogers Park.

“It is no hyperbole to say it is a game changer,” Lifeline Managing Director Allison Cain said in a statement.

Jackalope Theatre Company started out of Columbia College in 2008. Each season, the company produces three full-length plays at its theater in the Broadway Armory, 5917 N. Broadway. It also has a storefront theater called The Frontier, 1106 W. Thorndale Ave.

“We are humbled by the confidence in our work and are grateful to the Bayless Family for continuing to fight for Chicago storefront theatre.”

Bayless’ foundation has also announced a new award, called the “Signal Grant.” The grant will be given occasionally to draw focus to a company the foundation believes in and to inspire other donors to give, the foundation said.

The first recipients of the new grant include $75,000 to the Congo Square Theatre in Kenwood, which produces work from the African Diasporic experience in Chicago. The Actors Gymnasium, a circus school and theater company in Evanston, also received a $25,000 grant.

An avid fan of the theater, Bayless earlier this year awarded Stepping Stone grants to Albany Park Theater Project, Steep Theatre Company and Porchlight Music Theatre.

The Bayless Family Foundation also helped fund a series of performances in Millennium Park in 2019. These performances are part of Year of Chicago Theatre, a citywide initiative by the Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events and the League of Chicago Theatres.

Chef Rick Bayless with performers from the Albany Park Theatre Project, a recipient of a 2019 “Stepping Stone” grant from the Bayless Family Foundation. Credit: Courtesy Albany Park Theater Project

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Rogers Park, Edgewater, Uptown ReporternnRogers Park, Edgewater, Uptown Reporter Twitter @jaydubward