Trustees & Individual Giving: 11 Deserving Arts Organizations Worth Your Large Personal Donation
As we live through another year of social unrest and economic uncertainty, it has become more important than ever for businesses to place their social consciousness and activist initiatives at the core of their brand. One simple and effective way to accomplish this is by supporting arts organizations directly through donations and gifts. Here at IPaintMyMind, we offer value to our partners in many ways, including guiding your eye to some of the most exciting and important work being done by Chicago nonprofits in 2021!
Some of these organizations are sweeping in scope – interdisciplinary, city-wide, and longitudinal – while others focus on honing a particular style of art or cultivating a hyperlocal community. Regardless of their differences, the art nonprofits of Chicago, as a group, create the mesh that holds our city together through art, culture, and shared compassion. Whether you are working to attract socially conscious consumers, employees, or partners, diving into the rich network of Chicago artists and organizations can improve your business and brand.
Here are just a few of the many area nonprofits to consider supporting with your donation today:
When Theaster Gates purchased a building in 2006, he had no idea that his modest renovation project would become a massive reclamation of black neighborhoods across the South Side of Chicago. Gates is a sculptor and installation artist whose work uses reclaimed objects to create commentaries on the histories of slavery, industry, and Civil Rights. Today, Gates’ medium of found art expresses itself on a macro scale, as his Rebuild Foundation rebuilds abandoned spaces into archives, galleries, cinemas, and live-work spaces centering black artists and their work. The group’s production arm, Dorchester Industries, employs artisans and apprentices, who have used traditional building techniques to reimagine disused buildings. They have repurposed banks, candy shops, and even a thirty-two townhome housing project, which is now home to a public art center, live-work artist spaces, and low-income housing.
Albany Park Theater Project
This youth theater company produces original plays addressing contemporary social issues like immigration, foreclosures, and the pandemic. Each year, their crop of young actors from across the city stage and act in multiple productions in their North Side theater, the first one ever constructed in Albany Park. In addition to their high-quality theatrical productions, APTP offers academic coaching and college admissions counseling to all of its participants. As a result, 70% of alumni graduate college by age 24, a percentage that is more than seven times the average for first-generation college students.
Arts of Life
Arts of Life’s two multipurpose spaces, located in Glenview and Chicago, are founded, owned, and run by a group of sixty disabled artists. Each of these cooperative owners is a working artist, receiving a monthly stipend for their studio duties, with the potential for bonuses based on art sales. The facilities provide each artist with their own studio and the opportunity to feature their work in monthly exhibits, shaped by guest curators. Arts of Life strives to create an alternative system for the elevation and monetization of fine art, which gives the necessary tools, venues, and agency to creators of all abilities, eradicating the ableism that has excluded so many voices and perspectives from the mainstream art world.
Pilsen Arts & Community House
Formerly known as Pilsen Outpost, this Latinx-led community center began as an independent art gallery seven years ago, and has since flourished into an interdisciplinary hub for art and activism. The house has continued its art exhibitions and artist talks, hosting new artists each month, and has also expanded its programming to include community art classes, open studio tours of local artists’ spaces, and mentorships. Their most recent addition has been Pilsen Pod, a podcast that educates listeners on Pilsen artists and community causes.
Spudnik Press began as a live-work space in West Town in 2007, and has exploded into a bustling community art center in the intervening years. Their warehouse studio provides facilities for myriad styles of printmaking, as well as bookbinding, which are open to anyone who wishes to reserve the space. Additionally, Spudnik furnishes an exhibition space and publishes prints and zines in collaboration with local artists. Much of the work coming out of this small press is politically radical and action-oriented, spurring important conversations around the prison-industrial complex, street violence, and other pressing issues of the day. The press has five permanent staff members, but hosts dozens of Chicago-based teaching artists each year and consistently works with some of the most captivating printmakers in the city.
Artists’ Cooperative Residency & Exhibitions
Although ACRE’s artist-built, wood-frame house is located in rural Wisconsin, it is a haven for emerging Chicago artists, thirty of whom attend each two-week residency in the facility. As residents, the artists have access to an outdoor woodshop, printmaking studio, and art and tech facilities. After their two weeks are over, ACRE alumni receive continual support from the organization’s Chicago offices, which partner with local and national galleries and theaters in order to place their work before audiences and further develop their burgeoning careers. In the ten years since their establishment, ACRE has helped to launch – and subsequently sustain – the careers of over 1,000 artists in every discipline imaginable.
Creative Chicago Reuse Exchange
Living by the motto, “Trash is just a failure of imagination,” Creative Chicago Reuse Exchange operates from their South Side warehouse to collect and repurpose unwanted items as art supplies. The group focuses on distribution to Chicago artists and educators, who share their studio and classroom needs through social media forums. The warehouse and sorting facilities also employ developmentally disabled Chicagoans through their partnership with Envision Unlimited.
Marwen brings together local artists, including program alumni, to create after-school programming in the visual arts for Chicago students in underserved communities. Their 11-week courses cover such diverse topics as sculpture, filmmaking, painting, and more, even exploring experimental and genre-hopping fields such as visual storytelling and comics. In addition to their direct arts education, Marwen offers academic counseling for their students, who range from sixth- to twelfth-graders, and strives to place students in four year degree programs.
South Asian Institute
In a recent post, SAI asked its followers, “Can you name 5 South Asian women artists?” This museum, whose collection displays works from South Asia and the Asian diaspora, has a mission to make Asian art more visible and three-dimensional to an American audience. Their historic building on Landmark Motor Row, which once functioned as storage for B.F. Goodrich Tires, has been renovated to house a research library and host their myriad events, including exhibits, films, performances, and panels. The Institute has recently added short term artist residencies to their on-site programming as well.
Que4 is many things: a recording studio, a print shop, a community gathering space. The group’s flagship project is its radio station, which offers job training to community members interested in working on programming or production. Que4 has accumulated sound gear and event equipment, which they make available to other Chicago organizations for concerts and festivals, and they furnish a space on-site where artists can record both audio and visual work. The Humboldt Park building is also home to Latinta Prints, a Latinx owned studio using traditional printmaking techniques to provide apparel and screen printed art to local businesses.
Chicago Therapy Collective
While its name may imply a group of clinicians, in practice the Chicago Therapy Collective takes a holistic and activist approach to trans liberation, with a heavy emphasis on the arts. Based in Andersonville, the collective has taken a hyperlocal approach to tackling economic and health disparities suffered by the trans community through their Trans-Inclusive Chicago campaign, working with businesses and venues to integrate their trans members into the local economy and culture. The campaign’s ongoing installation series, Trans Art Is, partners with galleries on the North Side to create exhibits that center trans artists and acknowledge the outsized influence that trans voices and aesthetics have had on modern American culture. The series includes visual art, performances, and lectures, and aims to increase the visibility of trans creators from Chicago.
IPaintMyMind is proud to work alongside all of these organizations in pursuit of excellence and inclusion in the Chicago art community. We have carved out a singular space for ourselves by combining public art, corporate engagement, and educational outreach in our practice. While IPMM is funded entirely by commissions and private donations, our mission is all about public works. We have brought free, year-long curricula to 110 public schools since we began our work eight years ago.
With your help, we can work to bring even more sustainable arts programming to the students and teachers of our city through our Sponsor-a-School program. Through this unique initiative, IPMM engages employees in fundraising for a school of their choice to receive a year of arts programming, including artist workshops, digital resources, and one-on-one support for teachers. Not only does this bring artists into direct contact with students; it can also be a way for you to create a major and direct impact on our communities.
At IPaintMyMind, we are proud to be a part of the varied tapestry that makes up the world of Chicago arts and culture. We acknowledge the importance of an interconnected web of arts nonprofits, and we strive to promote the work of like-minded organizations.
Check out our previous article on BIPOC-led art and education nonprofits here.
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