Joan W. Harris: Messiah to wandering music and dance troupesmore
By JOHN von RHEIN
The South Florida SUn-Sentinel
December 28, 2003
Chicago's midsize music groups and dance companies have long resembled a chorus of the nomadic needy, wandering from one inadequate theater to the next, continually frustrated in their attempts to find permanent homes. In retrospect, what they all were looking for was a messiah, someone with the money and the civic clout to bring them together under one magnificent roof and make audiences and contributors eye them with renewed respect.
They found such a messiah in Joan W. Harris, 72, the rich and powerful former Chicago cultural affairs commissioner who has long been one of the city's most tireless arts advocates.
It was she who, along with her husband, Irving B. Harris, 93, a former industrialist, made possible the new downtown landmark that bears their names.