On June 25th, ULI Chicago members toured one of Chicago’s newest cultural assets, the University of Chicago Arts Incubator, part of the University’s Arts + Public Life Initiative. In advance of the building tour, attendees learned about the vision for the new incubator from renowned Chicago artist and community planner, Theaster Gates, and other Arts Incubator supporters including Julie Burros, Director of Cultural Planning at the City of Chicago; Joanna Trotter, Director of Place-Based Initiatives at The University of Chicago; Eliza Myrie, Inaugural Resident Artist and Director of the Currency Exchange Café, which is directly adjacent to the Arts Incubator; and, David Boykin, Resident Artist.
According to the panel of speakers, the Arts Incubator exemplifies how a commitment to the arts can act as a catalyst for revitalizing a community. “Culture is a catalyst,” explained Mr. Gates. “We have to believe that culture is important here. We must find ways to invest in culture and invest in the people who are the culture producers.” He went on to suggest that Chicagoans should imagine the West Garfield block housing the new incubator, “as a platform for a reinvestment corridor along Garfield Boulevard and these are just the seedlings of that significant reinvestment.”
Following the panel, attendees received a guided tour of the facility led by noted architecture critic and University of Chicago Arts and Public Life Special Projects Manager, Lee Bey. During the tour, ULI members were able to visit working studios for incubator artists-in-residence, Krista Franklin, Andres Hernandez, and David Boykin. In its first year of existence, the Arts Incubator has transformed an abandoned corner in Washington Park into a creative neighborhood hub and inspired the opening of the adjacent Currency Exchange Café. Learn more about the University of Chicago Arts IncubatorAuthored by K.C. Wigle, W.E. O’Neil Construction Co. and Member, ULI Chicago Communications Committee