Christopher Henry Smith

Independent Arts Administrator

Come on in.  Click around.  Stay awhile.

The Space

An ongoing project I have been working on with my much smarter and much more practical friend Stephanie is a group/space/coop/something that supports artists working in the field of Social Practice.

We started looking at just opening a space and providing a venue for artists to perform, then we decided to expand towards providing non-capital resources like marketing support, fundraising support, event support, web/social media support, strategic planning support, and so on.  In a perfect scenario, we’re working to leverage a network of dedicated volunteers and professionals to help in this work so we can expand the scope of what we’re doing.

The third iteration of this project has settled on providing greater support to artists creating socially conscious work that has issue-centric themes and seeks to insight action, thought, or conversation around these. 

Which is lovely in theory.

What we have been able to do over the past few months is much more exploration and research than I had imagined.  My hope with this project was that we were already so brilliant and had such an awesome Big Plan that we’d be able to make a to-do list in the first month and open our doors by the end of the year.  I’m constantly being reminded how seldom my imagination gels with reality.

The truth of it is we’re both listening and watching and reading and absorbing so much of what is already happening in the community.  Together or apart, we work to see lots of events, theatre, music, visual art, and to digest good media on this topic: radio programs, articles, blogs.  There is so much more than I had thought and to do this in a way that is helpful and sincere, I feel like I need to learn more.  Like, a lot more.

So, in the fourth iteration of this idea, maybe we want to include writings and research on socially conscious work happening in Chicago and beyond.  Moreover, examples of programs doing truly effective work in areas outside of art could be featured. 

What we’re looking at then:

·        A resource heavy website with connections to groups already helping artists, links to articles and work being done in this field, and a blog discussing this work.  Perhaps we include discussion forums, a library, and events listings.

·        A venue for artists to present work, a space to meetup to discuss and explore these themes, and office/meeting areas for organizations incubating work.

·        Volunteer offered non-capital resources in the areas of marketing, fundraising, strategic planning, board development, event planning, social media, partnerships, education, etc.



Mostly, right now, I just feel compelled to listen and learn, listen and learn, listen and learn.

look, a new website

What's happening now?  I'm making a new website, that's what's happening now.  This project has been tedious but has taught me three things:

  1. A strong choice in typesetting can make anyone look like a professional.
  2. Your friends who are good photographers are more important to have around than those who aren't.
  3. This sort of project makes you incredibly nostalgic.

Piecing this together has brought back a lot of positive memories from the past five years, and I'm struck with a feeling of gratitude.  For the lunatics who worked with EX-Pats, the beautiful and dedicated people at ChiArts, and everyone in between, I'm pretty lucky.

As I set out a little more on-my-own than usual, here's hoping the next five years are as much fun and as insightful as the past five.

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