Washington Park Arts Incubator, University of Chicago
The Washington Park Arts Incubator is the lead project of Arts + Public Life. The mixed-use arts facility, located at the corner of 55th and Prairie Avenue in Washington Park (301 E. Garfield Blvd), is slated to open in late 2012.
The University of Chicago acquired the property—a historic 15,000-square-foot, two-story terracotta building that dates to the 1920s—in July 2008. Inspired by Theaster Gates’ innovative work with the Rebuild Foundation and Dorchester Project, which centers on the adaptive reuse of abandoned properties in Chicago’s Grand Crossing neighborhood and elsewhere throughout the Midwest, the University has appointed Gates to spearhead the redevelopment of the Washington Park property as a creative facility that will engage local artists, students, and residents, creating a nexus for cultural and community engagement.
The Washington Park Arts Incubator will work to achieve the following two ends:
- To serve as fertile ground where artists and communities can grow together by providing space for Chicago-based artists to work, commune, exhibit, mentor, and engage in discourse with both academic and public audiences.
- To demonstrate how anchor institutions can build on the rich cultural legacies of the neighborhoods of Chicago’s South Side and create new bases for artistic vitality and community vibrancy by bringing together audiences, resources, and program partners from the University of Chicago, the Washington Park community, and the city’s broader arts sector.