Thursday, June 02, 2005

Study - Strategies for Chicago Visual Artists

A study that might be of interest. I haven't read it yet. How this takes into account interdiciplinary artists and performance art I don't know.

see the html version here...

download pdf versions at

I quote...

Empowering Visual Artists Initiative - Chicago Arts Resource

This study, Strategies for Chicago Visual Artists, details the current needs of visual artists in Chicago, the landscape of resources currently available to address these needs and what the Chicago Department of Cultural Affairs can do to empower the city's visual artists.

Information was gathered through:
• Interviews with artists
• Arts service providers and arts organizations
• Focus groups of visual artists
• Survey analysis
• Research on best practices in other cities.

Primary Findings:
Space and Housing - Many artists say that securing affordable live/workspace is their primary concern. Lack of affordable space is cited as one of the main reasons artists abandon their practice.
Community - Visual artists express a greater need for community than artists in other disciplines, such as dance, film, music, etc.
Professional Development and Growth - All artists interviewed expressed their main goal as being able to make a living from their artwork, yet only one in four visual artists make over 75% of their household income from their artistic practice. Critical acclaim and financial success are heavily correlated to professional practices.
Access to Information and Resources - The majority of artists in the Focus Groups expressed interest in the Department of Cultural Affairs to function as an information consolidator or clearinghouse and to provide listings, opportunities, and other content consolidated from existing organizations and service providers.

Primary recommendations:
• Facilitate Space Assistance Programs for Artists
• Create a Citywide Council of Artists
• Promote Chicago-based Artists Nationally and Internationally
• Create a Central Resource of Information for Artists


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hey Eric,

I think that this study was done a couple of years ago. My understanding is that some plans have been made to address some of the issues that were raised by the study. One thing that the Department of Cultrual Affairs is planning on doing is launching a "comprehensive" website that will compile information on things like calls for submissions for juried shows, RFPs/calls for grant proposals, and I'd imagine on things like affordable housing and health care. They are modeling the website after similar artists resources websites in other cities, such as this one in Seattle:

From what I have heard, they are rolling out the website for visual artists and then hope to expand within the year to include resources for people working in other disciplines, including performance.

It is hard to say how effective the website will be, but let's hope for the best.

I think that the results of that artists services survey were also what prompted the city to begin holding their annual artists housing & space fair.

There have been a couple of studies conducted recenetly about the need for artists services in the dance community in Chicago as well. The SMID study (Small, Midsize and Independent Dance study) convened artists focus groups, interviewed different presenters, and looked at artists services organizations in other cities, such as New York's phenomenal Dance Theater Workshop, to try to figure out what artists services are currently being provided in the city by organizations like Links Hall, the Arts and Business Council, the League of Chicago Theaters and Volunteer Lawyers for the arts, and to outline steps for the provision of other artists services in the future. This study was sponsored by the Chicago Community Trust, who was also responsible for the Dance Marketing Study that Carol Fox is about to release.

I think that Chicago is a relatively good place to be right now as a young artist. It's very exciting to me that a real push is being made to connect artists with the resources that they need.

June 22, 2005 12:57 PM  
Blogger Erik Fabian said...

thanks for the comment. i did eventually read it and realized it is knowingly not geared towards performing artists. it is a frustratingly slow process to me to have to do research for a couple years to realize that artists need space, health insurance and so on. it is realization that can be reached by deductive reasoning but perhaps not justified to the power that be without the data.

by the way one great resource that this report mentions is which is a group artists can joins to get health insurance and access to small grants like our CAAP grant. the health insurance is available to artists in illinois.


June 27, 2005 11:56 PM  

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