After an exciting weekend at the Americans for the Arts National Convention in Denver, we’re back at home in Chicago ready to roll up our sleeves and get back to work supporting our local creative economy. After four days of intense learning, informative conversations, and inspiring art-viewing, we’ve got a lot on our minds. Here’s a sample of some big ideas we’re thinking about:
Research, Data, and Tools
The Arts & Business Council of Chicago has always grounded itself in its commitment to delivering leading research and emerging issues through our professional development workshops, Learning Labs, and our emerging peer-to-peer learning opportunity, Breakfast Club. As we continue to be a navigator. we’ll definitely be raising the visibility of Artists Thrive and Creative Exchange.
Artists Thrive is an online assessment tool that aims to support artists by raising their value in every community, setting conditions for improvement, and ensuring that artists are thriving with support from every sector. This new assessment tool allows artists to visualize themselves on a spectrum of performance – giving them agency to seek out future professional development and skill-building opportunities.
Creative Exchange is an online hub of practical, artist-created toolkits to spark change and stories to inspire connection powered by Springboard for the Arts. Many of these toolkits, such as “Guide for Business Districts to Work with Local Artists” and “Work of Art: Business Skills for Artists” spur private sector relationships with arts and culture. So, it’s no surprise that we’re really energized by this platform.
What is art?
Companies and organizations working at the “arts and” intersection had a strong presence at the Americans for the Arts National Convention. Theo Edmonds of IDEAS xLab delivered a powerful session on the role of culture in public health. Edmonds believes that where artists, communities, and the health sector meet, we will find a culture shift. IDEAS xLab believes that communities should be more influential in designing health programs and establishing health norms, because they recognize that food is not only food – it’s culture. This dynamic integration of the arts in health carries multi-dimensional impact and is prompting us at the Arts & Business Council to revision the way we think about the more traditional art forms that we service.
Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion
Marc Morial, President of the National Urban League, delivered the opening keynote at the Americans for the Arts National Convention that set the tone for much of the thinking and discussion that followed. In his address, Morial said, “Art and culture have always been part of a social change and they have a role to play in every element of our lives.” Continuing the conversation in sessions on racial equity in grantmaking, art in the #MeToo movement, and supporting artists with disabilities (thanks to our colleagues at 3Arts!), we’re feeling ready to begin some soon-to-be-announced equity, diversity, and inclusion work. We’re just getting started, but as Marc Morial stated in the closing of his keynote, we’re ready to lead with, “intention, intersectionality, and inclusion.”