The Center for International Performance and Exhibition (CIPEX) was founded in 1987 when a diverse group of cultural workers and community activists saw a need for an ongoing, organic link between the often-divided realms of artistic expression and social action. To further its evolving mission, it was formally incorporated and received IRS 501 c3 status in October of 1989.

In over two decades of operation, HotHouse has hosted over 6,000 cultural events including: concerts, forums, poetry readings, film screenings, art exhibitions, debates, book signings, theater works, workshops, master classes, and community gatherings.

In addition to a roster of daily arts presentations, HotHouse initiated several noteworthy festivals; The FMP Festival in 1995 which brought eleven European avant-garde composers to Chicago to collaborate with Chicago based artists, The Women of The New Jazz Festivals (1991,1994, 2000) which highlighted the contributions of women composers and instrumentalists, The World Music Festival (1999-2003) which brought over 90 internationally renown artists to Chicago in a ten day festival located at venues throughout the city, The Chicago/South Africa Initiative (2000) which brought eight jazz musicians to Chicago from South Africa to perform with locally based jazz musicians, and Viva Flamenco 2002 (a fifteen day multi-media festival showcasing Spanish and Gypsy music and dance featuring artists invited from Spain).

In July 2007, HotHouse closed its longtime 31 E. Balbo St. venue. In an effort to keep global music and culture alive, HotHouse collaborated with venues across Chicago to present performances.

While HotHouse continues to support international performance & culture throughout the city of Chicago, the main focus of 2009 will be a new permanent home.