NEA chairman Chu visits Arts Incubator in Washington Park

Jane Chu, the chairman of the National Endowment for the Arts, met with University leaders at the Washington Park Arts Incubator on Oct. 22 to discuss the Arts and Public Life initiative and the University’s efforts to support the cultural life of the Washington Park community.

Theaster Gates, professor in visual arts and the College, presented Chu with an overview of the University’s efforts to engage the Washington Park community through Arts and Public Life.

These efforts include an artist-in-residency program, which supports artists in all disciplines whose work will impact the city’s cultural landscape; the Design Apprenticeship Program for teenagers in the community; and a rich array of public programs. Additionally, Arts and Public Life’s new Place Lab, a creative think tank, designs and tests a national model of community development driven by arts and culture.

Arts and Public Life and the Arts Incubator have already gained recognition as beacons of civic and cultural engagement. The Arts Incubator has been honored with the Urban Land Institute Chicago Vision Award, the South East Chicago Commission Community Project Award and the LISC Chicago Neighborhood Development Award.

Gates led Chu on a tour of the Arts Incubator and Garfield Boulevard, where she visited the newly opened Currency Exchange Café and a formerly abandoned muffler shop now being used as an artistic workspace. Chu also met with students participating in the Design Apprenticeship Program.