New Directions for the Chicago Artists’ Coalition

August 10th, 2010

The Chicago Artists’ Coalition (CAC) has been a fixture in lives of Chicago’s artists for thirty-five years.  The most successful artists are those who know how to adapt, and as an arts advocacy organization, the CAC is no exception. Historically, they have promoted initiatives such as Percent for Art, and also helped to establish what is now the Chicago Department for Cultural Affairs.  The CAC is an organization that artists and those in creative fields have come to rely upon for exposure and support.

In light of their 35th anniversary, the CAC is rethinking their role in the lives and work of Chicago’s artists. According to Director Carolina O. Jayaram, Esq., the CAC underwent an “organizational assessment to gauge the current issues, challenges and interests among artists and the community.” As part of this assessment, the CAC surveyed artists in the city to reconnect with them and discover what they needed to further their artistic careers.

One of the programs that emerged from this assessment is A.B.C. – Art.Business,Create, a series of professional workshops designed to teach skills and provide the resources necessary to support working artists. Some of the workshops listed as part of the 2010-2011 programming include “Tech Savvy Artist” and “Artist Healthcare.” Beyond workshops, program also offers personal consultations with legal, financial and business planning professionals to help artists achieve their goals. In addition, the assessment has lead to the expansion of the CAC Around Town program, which helps create unique exhibition opportunities around the city. The program has grown to include partnerships with the Merchandise Mart, Pop-Up Art Loop galleries, exhibitions in local restaurants and cafes, as well as the Coalition Gallery, located in Wicker Park. The CAC and the Chicago Loop Alliance have also launched Art Loop Open 2010, a large-scale competition that will grant artists access to highly visible gallery spaces in the loop, with the public giving the final vote for monetary prizes for the winning artist. The installation of Tony Tasset’s Eye, a monumental public artwork that was unveiled in July and sponsored by the Chicago Loop Alliance, is running concurrently through the competition through the end of October.

These programs are just the beginning; the CAC will continue to create new programming in response to the artist surveys.  In times like these, it is comforting to know that the artistic community in Chicago is adapting and flourishing.

-Nicole Nelson

Nicole Nelson is a second-year graduate student at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, going for her Masters in New Arts Journalism. She is currently the marketing intern at Fear No Art Chicago. When not writing or studying, she enjoys taking pictures, reading historical fiction, and finding art in unexpected places.

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