Hyde Park Art Center to Become Nation's First Tuition-Free Art School
$13.8 million already secured, including generous $1 million+ gifts from Builders Initiative and the Guida Family Foundation, along with other foundation grants and individual donors with concentration from its South Side community. Public campaign phase is now active.
CHICAGO -- The Board of Directors of Hyde Park Art Center proudly announces that, effective Spring 2022, the renowned non-profit hub for contemporary art located on Chicago’s vibrant South Side will shift to a tuition-free model in its core curriculum education programs, making it the nation’s first contribute-what-you-can visual art school for all ages. This radical move culminates Hyde Park Art Center’s ambitious five-year strategic plan dedicated to ensuring more equitable access to artmaking, education, and community engagement for years to come.
In 2018, the Art Center Board initiated the $16 million ART MAKES capital campaign, the largest in its 82-year history, to secure a tuition-free education model, establish an endowment, and increase funding for general operations and artist investment in coming years. The ART MAKES campaign, co-chaired by Cynthia Heusing, Walter & Shirley Massey, and Richard Wright, has raised $13.8 million to date, thanks in large part to three generous lead gifts: over $2 million provided from Builders Initiative, $1 million from the Chicago-based Guida Family Foundation, and $500,000 from the Chicago-based David C. and Sarajean Ruttenberg Arts Foundation. The Art Center’s Board of Directors has been critical to the campaign’s success, committing more than 25% of the total funds raised to date. Further support has been received from local and national foundation and corporate grants, in addition to gifts from dozens of donors from around Chicago and the Art Center’s own South Side neighborhood. The remaining funds are now being sought to complete the campaign; for more information on supporting Chicago artists and arts education with a donation of any size, please visit www.hydeparkart.org/art-makes.
“As we found ourselves planning, we heard that people value Hyde Park Art Center’s legacy, our support of Chicago artists, and how the institution contributes to the local community’s identity. Importantly, we heard that our programs are making an impact— teens are developing their voices, artists are tackling bold and ambitious projects, and families are finding a creative home. Our neighbors, artists, students, and volunteers reinforced the unique role the Art Center plays in bridging social networks, sparking civic dialogue, and exemplifying the best of our city. We also heard that we can do more and the Campaign is allowing us to do so,” said Justine Jentes, Hyde Park Art Center board chairman.
Added Kate Lorenz, Hyde Park Art Center executive director, “We know that artists are essential to a flourishing society, and we aim to invest in Chicago’s art community at all levels by removing tuition as a barrier, making our public programs richer and more engaging for everyone, and increasing support for artists. This is truly a pivotal moment in our history.”
Increasing access to art for all
Hyde Park Art Center’s Oakman Clinton School & Studios annually serve nearly 2,000 students of all ages and skill levels with nearly 200 courses across the visual arts. Core curriculum classes comprise about two-thirds of all offerings and include staple Art Center programs at all learning levels and across all artistic media, from ceramics, painting and drawing to printmaking and digital photography. So as to provide students from all backgrounds the means to participate, create, and benefit from the dynamic learning environment and community at the Art Center, with the Spring 2022 registration, all of the Art Center's core curriculum classes will be offered without a set tuition price and all participants will be asked to contribute how they can, at whatever level they are able. This restructuring of the School and Studios will result in Hyde Park Art Center proudly becoming Chicago’s – and the nation’s – first tuition-free visual art school for all ages.
In addition, monies raised through ART MAKES will be dedicated to investing in the Art Center’s ongoing Pathways Programs delivering broader access to visual arts for some 700 K–8 students in in its neighboring communities—Bronzeville, Hyde Park, Kenwood, Washington Park, and Woodlawn – along with supporting more than 150 teen and young adult artists through its arts and professional training both for high school and post-high school (18-25- year-old) youth. Further engaging the community, the Art Center currently hosts a robust series of artist talks, exhibition openings, free artmaking workshops, and other creative events; increased funding for public programs will provide an even greater platform and space for artists, community members, and peer organizations to collaborate and contribute to civic dialogue and social awareness.
Increasing investment in artists
Equally critical is a deeper investment in professional artists. Among the current Hyde Park Art Center initiatives that will benefit from increased funding are faculty/teaching artist development for its current 50 faculty members via additional resources and trainings for the development of studio work and pedagogical practice, as well as provide professional opportunities for artists growing their careers, both inside the building and beyond, through valuable mentorship and exhibition programs such as the Center and Bridge offerings.
Further, the Art Center’s Jackman Goldwasser Residency currently provides local artists access to long-term, rent-free studio space, and international artists the opportunity to live and work in Chicago. Building on this, the residency program will expand its international presence by building on exchanges where Chicago artists travel abroad and connect to the global stage while international artists and curators visit Chicago to connect with our local artists. And finally, the Art Center will invest in new work, supporting artists and the creation of ambitious new work to ensure artists, particularly artists of color and women, can mount career-changing exhibitions.
About Hyde Park Art Center
Hyde Park Art Center, at 5020 South Cornell Avenue on Chicago’s vibrant South Side, is a hub for contemporary arts in Chicago, serving as a gathering and production space for artists and the broader community to cultivate ideas, impact social change, and connect with new networks. Since its inception in 1939, Hyde Park Art Center has grown from a small collective of quirky artists to establishing a strong legacy of risk-taking and experimentation and emerging as a unique Chicago arts institution with social impact. The Art Center functions as an amplifier for today and tomorrow’s creative voices, providing the space to cultivate and create new work and connections. For more information, please visit www.hydeparkart.org.