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.
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’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.
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.
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