Founded in 2011, the University of Chicago’s Arts + Public Life initiative, led by social innovation artist and urban planner Theaster Gates, is dedicated to the intersection of the university and its surrounding community and using arts and culture to foster collaboration. Arts + Public Life is a two-time recipient of funding from ArtPlace America. The first in 2012 supported creation of the Washington Park Arts Incubator, which is a space for artist residencies, education, community arts projects, performances, and talks. The second award in 2014 invested in a new Creative Business Incubator to provide professional development and help launch artist-led businesses.
These projects are a prime example of how universities can connect with artists and their communities to have a much broader impact.