Greg Cameron might not be a dancer, but he’s dedicated the last 30 years to supporting the arts. He’s held top positions at the Museum of Contemporary Art and the Art Institute of Chicago, and most recently served as COO for Window to the World, the parent company of WTTW-Channel 11 and WFMT-FM. Now he’s taking on his biggest role yet: helming the Joffrey Ballet. “My personal passion has been supporting artists and artistic excellence,” says Cameron, who will also handle the organization’s community outreach and oversee its famed academy. “Everything aligns perfectly with the Joffrey’s mission.”
With 40 dancers in its company, 84,000 audience members each year and a community enrichment program that reaches more than 5,000 children annually, the Joffrey Ballet has proven to be one of the city’s most influential and far-reaching arts organizations. The company’s season will kick off Sept. 19 (almost a full month earlier than in past years) with its Russian Masters showcase, followed by pieces like “La Baydere,” “The Nutcracker” and “Romeo and Juliet,” as well as a contemporary works like “Crossing Ashland,” choreographed by Chicagoan Brock Clawson.
Though his first love is classic art, Cameron is always out to discover the new and the next. When he’s not at the Joffrey, he’s dividing his time between other nonprofits, such as Links Hall, a performing arts collective promoting artistic innovation and invention, and the Renaissance Society at University of Chicago, where he’s president of the board. “Nonprofits aren’t a job. They aren’t nine-to-fives or even seven-to-sevens. They’re a lifestyle,” he explains. “You’re constantly engaging people, and that’s something I care about in a passionate way.”
One of Cameron’s most cherished projects? The work he does on the board of the Young Women’s Leadership Charter School, the only all-girls public school in Chicago. “There are 350 young women who all deserve to have the same opportunities I had in education,” Cameron says. “It’s not just about the intellectual aspect. It’s about social, emotional and physical well-being.”
Between his work with the Joffrey and his extra-curriculars, Cameron is one of Chicago’s biggest names in the arts — though that’s never been his end goal. “I started my career as an intern at the city’s Department of Cultural Affairs back when Harold Washington was mayor,” he remembers. “I fell in love with all things culture in Chicago. It’s about bringing together people who might not know each other, but who share a passion.”
10 a.m. Cameron assembles an eclectic group of friends for a brunch brainstorm at Nano Sushi (left, 3205 N. Halsted).
11:45 a.m. He takes in a matinee at the Landmark Theatre (2828 N. Clark).
2 p.m. Cameron heads over to the Goodman Theatre (170 N. Dearborn) to catch their Sunday showing of “The Jungle Book.”
5 p.m. Cameron and his partner shop for home decor pieces for their new apartment in Lakeview at Verde Design Studio (2444 W. 16th) and scope out furniture.
8 p.m. On nights when he doesn’t see a show, Cameron stays home and tunes into his TV addiction: “Downton Abbey.”
Story by Zak Stemer