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Executive Artistic Director of American Blues Theater

Theatre Artist


Gwendolyn (Wendy) Whiteside joined the Ensemble of American Blues Theater in 1998 and has served as the executive artistic director since 2010. In her tenure, she created the nationally-recognized Blue Ink Playwriting Award and new work development program, implemented community service into the company’s mission, and adapted the arts education program for Chicago Public Schools serving nearly 4,000 students annually during a traditional school year. She led American Blues through its reorganization in 2009, building the operational budget from zero to $1 million. She secured the company’s first-ever operating reserve, first endowment, and first permanent home.


Whiteside served on numerous panels for the National Endowment for the Arts and sat on the Board of Directors for Network of Ensemble Theaters and League of Chicago Theatres. She’s a graduate of Northwestern University (BS), The School of the Art Institute of Chicago (MFA), and a Kellogg Executive Scholar in Nonprofit management (Kellogg School of Management, Northwestern University).


As a producer, she’s received 14 Joseph Jefferson nominations and awards. She's produced Chicago's holiday favorite It's a Wonderful Life: Live in Chicago! for 15 years, directing it for the last 9 years. As an actress, she’s received 5 Joseph Jefferson Awards, Citations, and nominations; 2 After Dark Awards; and 1 Broadway World Chicago Award.

photo by Joe Mazza / brave lux

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