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The Union features art with a purpose

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"The Union is a venue or series of events that are focused on live music for the most part, but we also show documentary films or art exhibits, all centering around the theme of supporting social causes, or raising awareness of social issues. We call it a venue for social change," said Jeremy Gudauskas, director of ministry and service, in a Feb. 5 article published in the Suburban Chicago News and Naperville Sun. The article, titled "NCC's Union features arts with a purpose," went on to say, quoting Gudauskas, "We believe great art can inspire great change, whether on a personal level or a society level. We try to bring in artists who use their art to inspire people." Gudauskas came up with the idea for The Union about five years ago. The Union operates out of an old church building that serves as a food pantry during the week. It's got quite a bit of indie cred and is known for featuring bands on the cusp of breaking out. "It's been neat to really feel like we're part of the local music scene," he said. "We get a lot of requests from bands in the area that want to play there." In 2008, Chicago punk icons Smokin' Popes played at The Union just before they released a new album. He's had Fiction Family (two members of Switchfoot and Nickel Creek), and coming soon is Company of Thieves, a Chicago band that had a breakout year in 2009. "We try to focus on artists who are up and coming and under the radar," he said. "It's been great to see the momentum. Students have really latched onto it. There are a ton of student leadership roles. They have a lot to say about who we invite and what we do. It's great to see them take ownership." As The Union falls under the campus ministry's umbrella, the acts booked must be spiritually significant. "We wanted artists that had some sort of depth to their message ... beyond making money and being famous," Gudauskas said. "Artists (who are) raising awareness of some issue or a cause worth supporting." The rest of the article by Annie Alleman featured the Feb. 12 concert by Derek Webb and his latest album, Stockholm Syndrome.