The Lillian Marcie Center for the Performing Arts is named after two important women in Henry Lennix's life: his mother Lillian, and Chicago public school principal Marcella Gillie, who acted as a mentor to Lennix during his time as a teacher.
Chicago native, Henry Lennix, an actor whose performances have been seen in shows including "The Blacklist,” and “Justice League,” was awarded a $26 million grant by the state of Illinois to fund his proposed Lillian Marcie Center for the Performing Arts. Lennix has been an advisor for the Chicago-based Black theater company Congo Square Theatre for more than twenty years and was disheartened watching as they struggled to find venues for performances, due to lack of permanent space. He envisioned there being a space in Chicago that could act as a hub for Black arts and decided to do something about it.
“On two hands, you can count the number of Black theatre companies in the country that actually have bricks and mortar,” Lennix told Variety. “Which is shocking, but true.”
Located in Chicago's Bronzeville neighborhood, Lennix hopes the center will become a "Black Lincoln Center" as well as usher revitalization efforts into the neighborhood. With the buildout slated to being in September, Lennix plans to help throughout the first year of operations and then step back. The Congo Square Theatre is already set to be one of the many companies who will call the center home. The building will also include a nationally focused museum dedicated to Black contributions to the performing arts, ranging from from dance to film, music, theater and more. ARTE NOIR will be over here on the West Coast cheering them on through the buildout to their opening!