Hyde Park Art Center Becomes Nation's First Open-Tuition Art School

Via PR

Hyde Park Art Center, the renowned non-profit hub for contemporary art located on Chicago’s vibrant South Side, has completed its ART MAKES: COMMUNITY + CHANGE capital campaign – the largest in its 83-year-history – raising $17 million and surpassing an ambitious original goal of $16 million. The announcement was made today by the Art Center Board of Directors, acknowledging great appreciation for generous recent $1 million+ gifts made by The Clinton Family Fund and Cari and Michael J. Sacks, in addition to original lead gifts from the Builders Initiative, Guida Family Foundation, and David C. and Sarajean Ruttenberg Arts Foundation.  

As previously announced, the Art Center Board initiated the ART MAKES capital campaign in 2018 to secure an open tuition education model, establish an endowment, and increase funding for arts-education access and artist investment.  Having successfully completed this campaign, effective with the upcoming Spring 2022 class session, the Art Center will officially shift to a new Open Arts contribute-what-you-can model in its Oakman Clinton School and Studios, making it the nation’s first open-tuition visual art school for all ages.  Via Open Arts, all of the Art Center's core curriculum classes will now be offered without a set tuition price and all participants will be asked to contribute how they can, at whatever level they are able, so as to provide students from all economic backgrounds the means to participate, create, and benefit from the dynamic learning environment and community at the Art Center.

Registration for Spring 2022 classes will start March 8 via for the term beginning March 28. An official public program celebrating the campaign completion and launch of Open Arts is scheduled for Saturday, April 23, as part of the Art Center’s popular Center Days quarterly free programming. More information on the April 23 event will be announced shortly.

The ART MAKES campaign was co-chaired by Cynthia Heusing, Shirley & Walter Massey, and Richard Wright. In addition to lead gifts, 25% of the total funds were committed by the Art Center’s Board of Directors, with further financial support received from local and national foundation and corporate grants, and gifts from dozens of donors from around Chicago and the Art Center’s own South Side neighborhood.

“It’s been wonderful seeing the ART MAKES campaign gain terrific momentum with several large commitments being made in the second half of 2021 and early 2022.  Hyde Park Art Center is playing a unique role supporting artists and access in its neighborhood, across the South Side, and across the city. Shirley and I have been proud to be a part of this groundbreaking work and gratified to see others join us in supporting this phenomenal institution,” said Walter Massey.

Added Kate Lorenz, Hyde Park Art Center’s Executive Director, “With all the challenges that COVID forced on Chicago communities, we have created a financial model that welcomes all people, regardless of ability to pay, while upgrading top-quality arts programming for years to come.”

As previously announced, the infusion of capital will allow Hyde Park Art Center to increase access to art for all and increase investment in artists: 


Increasing access to art for all

Hyde Park Art Center’s Oakman Clinton School & Studios annually serve over 1,500 enrollments 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 toprintmaking and digital photography.  In addition, monies raised through ART MAKES will be dedicated to investing in the Art Center’s ongoing Pathways K- 8 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 and so 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.  Funding will also 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