Recap: Chicago Community Space

June 28, 2023

Two people having a conversation in the seats of a high school auditorium.

Community Space attendees connecting with each other. Photo by Zoha Hussnain

On June 1, we gathered with Chicago area community arts educators at The Chicago High School for the Arts (ChiArts) to hear their perspectives on the present and future of community arts education, and what kinds of support they need. 

As we did at our previous Community Space gatherings in Boston, the San Francisco Bay Area, and Memphis, we asked attendees a series of questions about what community arts education looks like in Chicago, what challenges they are facing in their work, what kinds of programs and resources would be most beneficial to them as individuals and to their organizations, and what inspires them. 

We were delighted to be joined by Miss Illinois International, Mandy Marsh, whose platform is arts education for children!

Guild Executive Director Quanice G. Floyd standing with Miss Illinois International Mandy Marsh, who is wearing a crown and sash. Both are smiling.

Guild Executive Director Quanice G. Floyd and Miss Illinois International Mandy Marsh. Photo by Zoha Hussnain

Participants shared that the Chicago community arts education field is vibrant and collaborative, but access to creative learning opportunities is not yet equitable across different areas of the city. People expressed a need for more resources (funding, meeting space, technology, etc.) for community arts education; increased compensation, decision making power, and professional development opportunities for teaching artists; more programming for adults; and more funding and opportunities to teach indigenous art forms and values. Some shared that it can be challenging to provide a supportive creative environment when many of their program participants are dealing with economic challenges and violence in their communities.


Three large flipchart papers covered with writing in marker and on post-it notes.    Two masked people standing in front of the stage in a high school auditorium. The person on the left is pointing to Post-It notes placed on a large sheet of paper, which is being held by the person on the right.

Flipchart papers full of attendees’ answers to the prompts (left), and Aurora reading the answers aloud while Guild Deputy Director Ashley Hare holds a flipchart paper up (right). Photo by Zoha Hussnain

When asked what would be helpful and supportive in their work, participants mentioned that the Guild could set a bar for equity in the field; support national accountability around teaching artist pay (the Teaching Artist Guild’s Pay Rate Calculator was mentioned as a valuable resource); and provide networking, and professional development, and leadership opportunities.

Four people sitting in auditorium seats. One of the people on the left is holding a microphone and speaking. The two people on the right have their bodies turned towards the speaker, and one is wearing a mask.

Community Space attendees participating in discussion. Photo by Zoha Hussnain

Visions of the future of community arts education included removing colonial practices from community settings; making cities more liveable for artists; lifelong learning and intergenerational engagement; embracing new technology and innovation; and more places for the arts everywhere!

Nineteen people standing in a circle, surrounded by seats in a high school auditorium.

Our closing circle. Photo by Zoha Hussnain

Thank you to everyone who attended, The Chicago High School for the Arts for being such gracious hosts, and Zoha Hussnain for capturing photos of the event!

Published: June 28, 2023