Alliance of Artists Communities
20th Anniversary Conference | October 19-22 | Chicago

Full Schedule

[ Wed 10/19 ] [ Thu 10/20 ] [ Fri 10/21 ] [ Sat 10/22 ]


6:00 - 8:00 pm

hosted by Gensler
11 East Madison
3rd floor

Opening reception

Connect with old friends and make new ones! Beer/wine and light hors d'ouevres will be served. Special musical guest, Sara Hickman, will give a private performance.


9:00 - 10:15 am

Columbia College Chicago
Film Row Center
1104 South Wabash
8th floor

Welcome + Opening Keynote

Welcome speakers:

  • Hunter O'Hanian, Board Chair, Alliance of Artists Communities

  • Caitlin Strokosch, Executive Director, Alliance of Artists Communities

  • Louise Love, Provost, Columbia College Chicago

Keynote: Robert Farid Karimi, performance artist and activist, will perform with DJ D::Double, followed by an interview with Michelle Boone, Commissioner, Cultural Affairs, City of Chicago

10:30 - 11:45 am

Columbia College Chicago
Film Row Center
1104 South Wabash
8th floor

Breakout Sessions

Communication is the Ask: How to Raise More Money Using Donor-Centered Communication (Part I) | This workshop offers practical advice on how to connect more effectively with donors in an age of information overload. Developed from Penelope Burk's groundbreaking research on the causes of and remedies for high donor attrition, "Communication is the Ask" explains what donors need to know and explores how nonprofits can become masters of their own messages. This energetic seminar leads attendees through a hands-on, creative experience on selecting, shaping, and delivering information to secure and sustain a competitive edge.

  • Penelope Burk, fundraising trainer, author of Donor-Centered Fundraising

Creative Place-Making: Artist-Centered Community Development | How do we make a meaningful, permanent place for artists in our communities? How do we engage developers, public officials, and others in a long-term strategy that supports artists, not just arts-related tourism? What are some of the opportunities/challenges specific to urban/rural communities? Explore these questions with representatives from around the country, in communities small and large.

  • Holly McAdams (moderator), Community Arts Program Manager, Bemis Center for Contemporary Arts

  • Joe Kurth, General Manager, The Pfister Hotel

  • Melissa Levin, Director of Residencies, Lower Manhattan Cultural Council

  • Tracy Taft, Executive Director, International Sonoran Desert Alliance

Spotlight on Live Arts: Buildling Resources for Dance and Theater Artists | This session will address how organizations can maximize the opportunities they provide to create stable and productive working environments for their artists, communities, and audiences. Hear about efforts to engage audiences in artistic practices, blurring the divide between the presentation of process and product, and how residency programs can cultivate and support a culture of curiosity around the art-making process. And discover new models, research tools, and other resources to support research-and-development

  • Jane Preston (moderator), Director of Programs, New England Foundation for the Arts

  • Jennifer Calienes, Director, Maggie Allesee National Center for Choreography

  • Craig Peterson, Director - Live Arts Brewery and Philly Fringe, Philadelphia Live Arts Festival + Philly Fringe

  • Aparna Ramaswamy, Artistic Director-Choreographer-Principal Dancer, Ragamala Dance

  • Ranee Ramaswamy, Founder-Artistic Director-Choreographer-Principal Dancer, Ragamala Dance

  • Julia Rhoads, Choreographer

Artist-Centered Advocacy: Not Just Numbers | Small, artist-centered organizations cannot often point to economic impact, outreach, audience numbers and other metrics, so this session will focus on the ways in which artists and artist-centered organizations can make their case — from zoning ordinances to property tax exemptions to public funding. The training session will include hands-on role-play exercises and a Q&A with one of the leading figures in Chicago Politics.

  • Ra Joy, Executive Director, Arts Alliance Illinois (facilitator)

  • Dick Simpson, former City of Chicago Alderman, author, columnist, and political science professor

The Artist as Philanthropist: The Emerging Field of Artist-Endowed Foundations | The Aspen Institute's National Study of Artist-Endowed Foundations, the first research effort to examine the emerging field of private foundations endowed by visual artists, documents a young but briskly expanding field with 300+ artist-endowed foundations identified to date, with charitable disbursements of nearly $1 Billion (1990-2005) and operations that include exhibition programs, scholarly study centers, and artists' residency facilities. This round table discussion will provide an overview of the Aspen Study's findings, including the growing number of foundations involved in operating artist residency programs. 

  • Carolyn Somers, Executive Director, The Joan Mitchell Foundation

  • Christine Vincent, Study Director, The Aspen Institute's National Study of Artist-Endowed Foundations

12:00 - 1:00 pm

Columbia College Chicago
Film Row Center
1104 South Wabash
8th floor


1:15 - 2:30 pm

Columbia College Chicago
Film Row Center
1104 South Wabash
8th floor

Breakout Sessions

Keynote Interview: Audrey Niffenegger, visual artist and writer; with Susan Page Tillett, Executive Director, Ragdale Foundation

Communication is the Ask: How to Raise More Money Using Donor-Centered Communication (Part II) | (see description above)

  • Penelope Burke
    fundraising trainer, author of Donor-Centered Fundraising

Engaging Local Communities: Artist Residencies + the Relevance of Place | Explore artist residency programs' relationship to place and the local community. From Sitka, Alaska to New Orleans, from Los Angeles to northern Wisconsin, from Bahia, Brazil to Englewood, Florida, the speakers will address questions such as, How much is our programming defined by where we are? How do we build support locally while building a national and international  reputation? Does our location influence content? Is our program a reflection  of our local community or in contrast to it? How do we ensure our artists-in-residence are mindful of our community, and vice versa?

  • Bruce Rodgers, Executive Director, Hermitage Artist Retreat (moderator)

  • Clayton Campbell, Advisor, The Joan Mitchell Center

  • Donna Neuwirth, Executive Director, Wormfarm Institute

  • Taylor Van Horne, President, Instituto Sacatar

From In-Reach to Outreach: Cultural Equity in Artist-Centered Organizations (Part I) | Explore why cultural equity matters, what it takes for an organization to be diverse and equitable, and how organizations can achieve this. In this 2-part topic, you’ll hear from several perspectives, then participate in small-group discussions on the challenges in achieving cultural equity and strategies for creating cultural change.

  • San San Wong (moderator), Director of Grants, San Francisco Arts Commission

  • Melissa Franklin, Director, Pew Fellowships in the Arts

  • other speakers TBD

    Earned Revenue and Artist Residencies | As residency-based organizations explore their future, both financially and programmatically, many are looking at new, innovative ways of generating earned revenue through fee-based programs. What can we learn from groups who have already successfully developed earned revenue programs? What are some of the models that really thrive? What are the challenges?

    • sharon maidenberg, Executive Director, Headlands Center for the Arts (moderator)

    • Mark Masuoka, Executive Director + CEO, Bemis Center for Contemporary Arts

    • other speakers TBD

3:00 - 4:30 pm

Columbia College Chicago
Film Row Center
1104 South Wabash
8th floor

Breakout Sessions

Funding the Arts in Times of Change | Hear from senior staff at leading local, regional, national, and international foundations about how arts funding fits within a foundation's giving priorities and the challenging decisions funders face in times of great change.

  • Regina Smith (moderator), Senior Program Officer, The Kresge Foundation; President, Grantmakers in the Arts

  • Angelique Power, Senior Program Officer - Culture, The Joyce Foundation

  • Deepa Gupta, Program Officer - Media, Culture, and Special Initiatives, The MacArthur Foundation

  • Peter Handler, Program Director, The Richard H. Driehaus Foundation

From In-Reach to Outreach: Cultural Equity in Artist-Centered Organizations (Part II) (see description above)

  • San San Wong (moderator), Director of Grants, San Francisco Arts Commission

  • Melissa Franklin, Director, Pew Fellowships in the Arts

  • other speakers TBD

Supporting a Creative Practice: Solitude, Solidarity, and Social Engagement Artists seek a variety of environments for creative work - isolation, collaboration, and community. Three artists will exchange ideas about their creative process, how a solitary practice can benefit from community engagement, how a social practice can benefit from solitude, and how artist-centered organizations can match their support with artists who will thrive.

  • David Macy (moderator), Resident Director, The MacDowell Colony

  • Esteban Del Valle, painter

  • Laura Jacqmin, playwright

  • Nami Mun, author

Making a Place (Even When You Don't Have Your Own Space) Many arts organizations and artist collectives are re-thinking traditional rent-or-own models for arts spaces. This session will address workspace needs and solutions for artists and organizations, alternative/innovative models for sharing/borrowing space, the highs and lows of owning and/or operating your own space, and new technology that is assisting artists and organizations with locating space.

  • Ben Thiem (moderator), Director of Member Services, League of Chicago Theaters

  • Sara Coffey, Co-Founder + Director, Vermont Performance Lab

  • Karen DiLossi, Director, Arts in Sacred Places

  • Adam Natale, Director of Partnerships + Business Development, Fractured Atlas

  • Meredith Winer, Founder + Director, TRANSIT

Developing International Partners Cross-boundary exchange is critical in deepening our understanding of today's world, and yet many organizations don't know where to begin. Hear about some of the opportunities available for developing programs with government agencies and NGO's and explore examples for managing international partnerships.

  • Mario Caro, President, Res Artis (moderator)

  • Ed Dadey, Director, ArtFarm

  • Steve Woodall, Executive Director, Center for Book and Paper Arts

6:00 - 9:00 pm

School of the Art Institute Ballroom
112 South Michigan Ave

Auction benefit + Award party

Help the Alliance celebrate its 20th Anniversary with an auction benefit and award party. Bid on exclusive events and original art, to fit every budget. Wayne Lawson will be auctioneering this lively event!

Then join the Alliance as we present the inaugural Mary T. Wolfe Catalyst Award to Lois Weisberg, a life-long advocate for the arts and artists in Chicago. The award will be presented by Terri Hemmert, long-time radio personality and DJ.

See more details here.

Tickets to the event are $35.


9:00 - 10:00 am

Columbia College Chicago
Film Row Center
1104 South Wabash
8th floor

Keynote Address

Luis Alberto Urrea, author; in conversation with Linda Rodriguez, poet and author
Luis Alberto Urrea, 2005 Pulitzer Prize finalist for nonfiction and member of the Latino Literature Hall of Fame, is a prolific and acclaimed writer who uses his dual-culture life experiences to explore greater themes of love, loss, and triumph. He is the best-selling author of 13 books, including The Devil's Highway, The Hummingbird's Daughter, and Into the Beautiful North. Luis will be joined in conversation by Linda Rodriguez, 2010 Alliance of Artists Communities' Midwestern Voices + Visions awardee, poet, and author.

10:30 - 11:45 am

Columbia College Chicago
Film Row Center
1104 South Wabash
8th floor

Breakout Sessions

Beyond Time + Space: Making the Impossible Possible | This session begins with a performance piece by three literary artists from Chicago whose work dynamically presents a multi-faceted view of the issues and impediments related to being an artist. Residency program leaders will then focus on three of the issues raised in the performance as they present the ways that their organizations have gone beyond providing time and space to address some of the most pressing—and toughest to tackle—needs of artists.

  • Esther Grimm (moderator), Executive Director, 3Arts

  • Katie Avery, Residency Director, Santa Fe Art Institute

  • CC Carter, performance artist

  • Liz Engelman, Alumnae Relations Coordinator, Hedgebrook

  • Sage Morgan-Hubbard, performance artist

  • Keli Stewart, performance artist

  • Pamela Winfrey, Senior Artist, Exploratorium

From the Neighborhood to the World: How Artists are Re-shaping Cleveland | Cleveland reaches into its deep historic and cultural roots to re-imagine ways for artists to prepare the city for a more robust global and local future. Led by one of Cleveland’s oldest philanthropies and one of its newest nonprofit arts organizations, learn how artists are engaged in new ways to make this rust belt city more livable for locals and a more active player on the changing world stage. The Community Partnership for Arts & Culture – a planning, advocacy and capacity-building organization – is launching its new Artist in Residence Project that seeks to help Cleveland neighborhoods employ its artists to transform and enliven the immediate local environment. The Cleveland Foundation, the oldest community foundation in the nation, has launched ‘Creative Fusion’ – a unique international artist-in-residence program that is aimed at engaging the whole community – students, residents, civic and cultural institutions, and local artists – in a creative exchange of culture and creativity that will help Cleveland regain its place as a vibrant international city.

  • Wayne Lawson (moderator), Executive Director Emeritus, Ohio Arts Council

  • Seth Beattie, Strategic Initiative Director, Community Partnership for Arts & Culture

  • Kathleen Cerveny, Director of Institutional Learning + Arts Initiatives, The Cleveland Foundation

Taking Stock: Outcome, Assessment, and Measuring the Unmeasurable | How can we assess an experience? How do we evaluate success when we don't dictate outcome? How can we demonstrate impact beyond numbers? This session will explore the challenges and best-practices of assessment for artist-centered organizations and provide guidance to funders on how we measure success, for our management as well as our programs.

  • Jim Baker (moderator), Executive Director, Pilchuck Glass School

  • Robert Frankel, Acting Director of Artist Communities + Director of Museums and Visual Arts, National Endowment for the Arts

  • Sarah Workneh, Executive Director - Program, Skowhegan

  • Jan Williamson, Executive Director, 18th Street Arts Center

Leveraging Resources to Serve Artists | Explore howpartner organizations can collectively pool resources and programmatic strengths to more deeply support artists and enhance public understanding about the ways artists work and the infrastructure needed to sustain a thriving art community.

  • Crystal Pernell (moderator), Marketing + Communications Manager, Hyde Park Art Center

  • Trevor Martin, Director of Exhibitions, School of the Art Institute of Chicago - Department of Exhibitions + Exhibition Studies

  • Lauren M. Pacheco, Executive Director + Co-Founder, Chicago Urban Art Society

  • Sara Schnadt, artist, curator, and Chief Technologist - Chicago Artists Resource, Chicago Department of Cultural Affairs + Special Events

Protecting Your Community: Risk Management for Artists and Artist-Centered Organizations | Artists have a reputation for risk-taking and recklessness. How do we mitigate risk (and protect the participants) while still allowing the artist free reign to express his or her vision? Panelists will share their experience in studio safety, emergency preparedness, and minimizing risk for artists and arts organizations.

  • Emily Gray (moderator), Program Director - Insurance, Fractured Atlas

  • Bob Emser, artist; founder, Chicago Sculpture International

  • Elizabeth Millman, Managing Director - Joffrey Academy and Community Engagement, Joffrey Ballet

  • Craig Nutt, Director of Programs, CERF+

12:00 - 2:00 pm

Columbia College Chicago
Film Row Center
1104 South Wabash
8th floor

Lunch + Town Hall Forum

Learn more about the Alliance's upcoming initiatives and share your vision of the future in this informal town hall-style forum for members and non-members alike.

2:30 - 5:30 pm

various locations

Tours + off-site events

Anchor Graphics + Spudnik Press

Architectural Walking Tour

Bookbinding Workshop

Hand in Glove Forum

Hyde Park Arts tour

(see Events + Tours for details)

6:30 - 9:00 pm

Coalition Gallery
217 North Carpenter

"Midwestern Voices + Visions" exhibition party

Celebrate the recipients of the Alliance's 2010 Midwestern Voices + Visions award, granted to seven artists of color from the Midwest. The Alliance offers this award every three years, with funding from The Joyce Foundation. Meet the artists and see their work from this month-long exhibition at the Chicago Artists' Coalition gallery. Also on display is "Ragdale: 3Arts Fellowship Exhibition."

The 2010 Midwestern Voices + Visions awardees include:

  • Willy Chyr: installation artist | Chicago, IL
  • Ibrahima Kaba: spoken word poet | Minneapolis
  • May Lee-Yang: playwright, poet, prose writer, performance artist | Chicago, IL
  • Adolfo Martinez: painter | Kansas City, MO
  • Linda Rodriguez: poet | Kansas City, MO
  • Mitchell Squire: installation, performance, and mixed media artist | Ames, IA

For more information on Midwestern Voices + Visions, visit


9:00 - 10:00 am

Columbia College Chicago
Film Row Center
1104 South Wabash
8th floor

Keynote Address

Keynote Speaker: Alex Kotlowitz, author and documentary filmmaker; introduction by Justine Nagan, Executive Director, Kartemquin Films

Alex Kotlowitz is the author of Never a City So Real, The Other Side of the River, and the national bestseller There Are No Children Here. His new film, The Interrupters (Kartemquin Films, 2011) – a collaboration with Steve James – premiered at Sundance earlier this year.

10:30 - 11:45 am

Columbia College Chicago
Film Row Center
1104 South Wabash
8th floor

Breakout Sessions

Bridging Communities: Social Projects in Books + Paper | Three artists will engage attendees in how communities form around specific identities and how art can reflect and expand on community identity and activism. The artists will share their work - from a zine project strengthening dialogue between young Eastern Europeans, to a summer roadtrip experiment in art and social interaction, to hand papermaking as a tool for communication with Phillippine women in Hardin Ng Kalikasan. Participants will create their own art piece and engage in a group conversation about how we create and respond to visual culture.

  • Kaitlin Kostus, MFA candidate in Interdisciplinary Book and Paper Arts, Columbia College Chicago

  • April Llewellyn, MFA candidate in Interdisciplinary Book and Paper Arts, Columbia College Chicago

  • Trisha Martin, MFA candidate in Interdisciplinary Book and Paper Arts, Columbia College Chicago

Capital Campaigns: Raising Money in Lean Times | From planning your budget and timeline to engaging your board to building enthusiasm and engagement in the community, this session will focus on case studies and strategies for successful capital campaigns, for organizations small and large.

  • Roger "Whit" Shepard, President, RWS Consulting, Inc.; and Board Member, Ragdale Foundation

The Right Stuff: Surviving, Striving, and Thriving for Artist Residency Programs | What makes a successful organization, with the resources to sustain over time? How do we cultivate organizational resilience? Whether your organization is established or emerging, large or small, explore what it takes to not only survive but to thrive. This session will include research from the Alliance's major Sustainability Study.

  • Caitlin Strokosch (facilitator), Executive Director, Alliance of Artists Communities

  • Maria Rosario Jackson, Director - Culture, Creativity and Communities, Urban Institute

  • Lori Wood, Director, Fes Medina; Consultant, Alliance of Artists Communities

Where Art Meets Earth: Integrating Arts, Ecology, and Communities | What makes a successful environmental artist residency program? How can you facilitate meaningful engagement between artists, ecologists, community members, and others to create change? What does it mean to be "native to place" and how can we cultivate it in our communities? This facilitated discussion will ask attendees to consider intent as well as practical considerations for developing programs that integrate arts and the environment.

  • Brad Kik, Co-Founder + Co-Director, Institute for Sustainable Living, Art & Natural Design (facilitator)

Building Resources for International Residencies | Residency programs located outside the U.S. are challenged with making their case to U.S. funders and developing revenue outside a non-profit system. This discussion will explore som e of the ways residency programs outside the U.S. have developed partnerships with universities, how funding relationships with government agencies are changing, and new opportunities for developing support.

  • David Bruce, Secretary, Skopelos Foundation (facilitator)

12:00 - 12:30 pm

Columbia College Chicago
Film Row Center
1104 South Wabash
8th floor

Closing Remarks

Caitlin Strokosch, Executive Director, Alliance of Artists Communities

12:30 - 1:30 pm

Columbia College Chicago
Film Row Center
1104 South Wabash
8th floor


2:00 - 5:00 pm

various locations

Tours + off-site events

City-Run Arts Spaces Walking Tour

Logan Square Arts Tour

Pilsen Arts Tour

Printmaking Workshop

Ragdale Site Visit

(see Events + Tours for details)

6:00 - 9:00 pm

Columbia College Chicago | Media Production Center
1600 South State Street

Closing night celebration

Unwind with new and old friends, dancing, dinner, and cocktails! DJ Sadie Woods will set the mood in one of Chicago's coolest new venues.

The Media Production Center, Columbia College's first new-construction building in its 120-year history, opened in October 2010. The stunning 35,500-square-foot, LEED-certified facility, designed by Studio Gang Architects, provides adaptable, state-of-the-art facilities and event space and has quickly become an architectural anchor for the thriving South Loop neighborhood.





© 2011 Alliance of Artists Communities