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City puts clamps on HotHouse, 5/13/03, Chicago Tribune



HOTHOUSE SHUT DOWN IMMEDIATELY PRIOR TO 
SOLD-OUT PERFORMANCE OF LEGENDARY CUBAN BAND ORQUESTA ARAGON, 5/14/03

Chicago's Red Squad at it again? The excuse was flimsy and big city police departments typically have multiple ties with the Feds and with Company operations. The target was Orquesta Aragón, beloved by fans across the world from Africa to Japan. A disgrace to those who did this.

OFFICIAL HOTHOUSE STATEMENT, 5/14/03

Contact: Stephanie Hlywak, Director of Press Relations 312-362-9707 fax: 312-362-9708 email: stephanie@hothouse.net

HOTHOUSE SHUT DOWN IMMEDIATELY PRIOR TO SOLD-OUT PERFORMANCE OF LEGENDARY CUBAN BAND ORQUESTA ARAGON

At 8:45 p.m. Friday May 9, ten undercover officers of the Chicago Police Department ordered HotHouse, 31 E. Balbo, and its management to cease and desist all operations, claiming the non-profit performing arts venue was operating with improper Public Place of Amusement licenses.

At the time of the citation, HotHouse was transitioning from a 7 p.m. performance to a sold-out 10 p.m. show of the legendary Cuban charanga band Orquesta Aragon. A crowd of ticketholders to the 10 p.m. performance had formed an orderly line outside the venue in anticipation of the concert.

HotHouse management asserts that all licenses for the venue are in good standing and proper order. Management believes that the raid, which will cause untold financial losses to the venerable non-profit cultural center, was politically motivated.

The crowd of ticketholders, many of whom had come from as far away as Nebraska to see the rare performance of the Cuban orchestra, left the premises in an orderly manner. The patrons of HotHouse, along with its management and supporters, are looking to the City of Chicago and its agencies for answers.

As of noon, Monday May 12, HotHouse remains closed. Management wishes to thank our supporters, friends and peers for their overwhelming support in the wake of Friday's unexpected closure. At this time, the future of HotHouse and its upcoming performances remain uncertain. Pending response from the City of Chicago's Department of Revenue, HotHouse management is working closely with its legal counsel and board of directors to hasten the reopening of the venue. Please check back frequently for updated, official information about the status of HotHouse.

For press and media inquires, please contact Stephanie.

For inquiries about the status of upcoming performances, please contact Tim.

For inquiries about upcoming private events scheduled at HotHouse, please contact Michilla.

Please send letters of support and solidarity to Marguerite.

REFUNDS Since Friday evening's police action, four HotHouse performances have been cancelled. If you purchased tickets for any of the following events, inquiries about refunds may be directed to refunds@hothouse.net: Friday, May 9: Orquesta Aragon, 10 p.m. Saturday, May 10: The Motion Trio, 7 p.m.; Salsa-Mambo Night with 911 Mambo Orchestra, 10 p.m. Sunday, May 11: Mama's Day with David "Honeyboy" Edwards and Aaron Moore

Due to the overwhelming number of phone inquiries regarding refunds, HotHouse is currently unable to respond to every individual seeking information. For the greatest efficacy, please email us at refunds@hothouse.net with the following information:

Your name Day and Evening Phone numbers Name of event for which you purchased tickets Number of tickets purchased Method by which you purchased tickets (internet, 800 number, phone inquiry to office, box office) Method of payment

As programming supports 85% of our operating budget, the financial losses to HotHouse in the days since Friday's police action are astronomical. Please consider making your ticket purchase a tax-deductible donation to HotHouse. If you require a refund, we will be honoring all requests.

DONATIONS As of Monday, May 12, the loss of revenue to HotHouse is estimated at $30,000 and mounting. HotHouse programming funds 85% of our operating budget; because management was forced to cancel four marquee events since Friday night, HotHouse's cash flow has all but stopped. Hundreds of individuals and groups have contacted HotHouse to voice their support and solidarity. Friends and supporters from across the city and across the nation have asked us how they can help. The simple truth is that we desperately need donations to support our organization until we are able to reopen. Each day that we are shuttered represents a major loss of revenue for the organization. Please consider giving what you can to HotHouse. 

Checks can be mailed to HotHouse, 31 E. Balbo, Chicago, IL 60605. 

We are in the process of establishing a method of accepting donations over the internet. In the meantime, please email inquiries about donations to donations@hothouse.net. Thank you in advance for your continued support.

City puts clamps on HotHouse, 5/13/03
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Chicago Tribune
By Howard Reich, Tribune arts critic. 
Tribune staff reporter David Heinzmann contributed to this report 
Published May 13, 2003

A prominent Chicago music club has been partially silenced by the city for at least the rest of the month after officials charged it failed to follow the provisions of its licenses.

Though HotHouse, 31 E. Balbo Drive, will be allowed to present the theatrical performances allowed by its city licenses, the club cannot offer the live music and dance events that it has staged since opening in its South Loop venue in 1998, the city's Department of Revenue said Monday.

Responding to a complaint, officials at the Central District police headquarters ordered vice section officers to go to the club Friday night, police spokesman Patrick Camden said Monday. After the first of two planned sets by the Cuban charanga band Orquesta Aragon, police issued a cease-and-desist order preventing the band's 10 p.m. show, and a capacity audience of about 300 people was told to go home.

The Cuban band has sparked past protests from anti-Castro forces in Chicago and elsewhere, and some HotHouse customers wondered if that history might have prompted the city's action. But a Department of Revenue official said the only issue involved was the club's lack of compliance with its licenses.

"Theaters and clubs [in Chicago] actively come in and renew their licenses, so basically they [HotHouse] lied to us ... in not fully describing their business activity," Revenue Department Director Bea Reyna-Hickey said.

"When the police arrived, they saw that $30 was being charged at the door, that there was a dance with a live band and full-blown liquor sales," Reyna-Hickey said.

Under the provisions of the club's licenses, HotHouse was to have offered only theatrical performances, and liquor was to be served only one hour before and one hour after performances, and during intermission, Reyna-Hickey said.

HotHouse officials estimate that the club lost between $30,000 and $40,000 by canceling all of its subsequent weekend shows, including the Motian Trio, from Poland, and octogenarian blues singer David "Honeyboy" Edwards.

"I'm considering legal action," said HotHouse attorney Matthew Piers, who hopes to resolve the impasse before a May 30 administrative hearing date.

"We're talking not only about the livelihood of Marguerite [Horberg, who owns the club], but a very important institution in the city."

Added Horberg, "We feel that if there's really some technical issue with a license, the appropriate way to handle it is for the city to make a call during business hours and request that we take care of the problem."

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