In 2021, Urban Gateways turned 60 – which means we’ve been engaging young people in arts experiences for over six decades to inspire creativity and impact social change.

We are proud of our legacy and of the ever-evolving arts programs that we share with thousands of young people in Chicago every year. Thank you to all those who celebrated with us in 2021! From virtual performances & festivities to a thought-provoking speaker series, our 60th Anniversary offered something for every arts advocate. Here are some of the ways we celebrated:

Urban Gateways’ 60th Birthday Bash:

In January 2021 we had a YouTube premiere party featuring performances and guest appearances by Urban Gateways artists and young people to mark the beginning of our 60th Anniversary.
Revisit our Birthday Bash on YouTube >>

The ART & Speaker Series:

This six-part virtual speaker series explored the connections between the arts and a variety of timely and thought-provoking topics – featuring artists, arts leaders, advocates, and more. Themes we explored were: ART & Storytelling, ART & Race, ART & Resistance, ART & Healing, ART & Changemaking, and ART & Looking Ahead. You can stream the entire series on our YouTube channel:
Experience the ART & Speaker Series >>

60 for 60 Video Series:

A series of 60-second videos celebrating the stories and history of Urban Gateways in honor of our 60th Anniversary, 60 for 60 videos were released on our social media channels the last Friday of every month throughout 2021 (@urbangateways on Instagram; @UrbanGatewaysChicago on Facebook; and @urbangateways on Twitter). Hear our community members’ perspectives on how our arts programs have inspired creativity and impacted social change!
View our 60 for 60 playlist on YouTube >>

Virtual Concert with Reginald Robinson:

In May 2021 we premiered a virtual concert of barrelhouse music by Reginald Robinson – MacArthur Genius, former Urban Gateways student, and current Urban Gateways Honorary Board Member. (We also paired it with a virtual wine tasting event that we’ll be repeating in 2022; keep an eye out for details!)
Barrelhouse Music with Reginald Robinson >>

World Weavers Virtual Gallery:

In honor of our 60th Anniversary, the World Weavers Virtual Gallery took a deep dive into one of our ongoing residency programs, the World Weavers Project, which combines the study of world cultures with the study of visual arts and textile design. Get to know this program as well as its partner, the Minasian Rug Company; student-designed rugs are also available for sale, with proceeds supporting Urban Gateways programs.
Visit the World Weavers Virtual Gallery >>

Check out this wrap-up video featuring clips from throughout our 60th Anniversary, and view our full 60th Playlist on YouTube right here. Thank you to all who joined us to celebrate 60 years of creating art & inspiring change!

More About Urban Gateways

Urban Gateways engages young people in arts experiences to inspire creativity and impact social change. Urban Gateways was founded 60 years ago on the South Side of Chicago as a counterweight against massive disparities and opportunity gaps for many Chicago youth created by segregation, racism, economic divestment, and lack of mobility among communities of color. 

Unfortunately, these conditions remain today as Urban Gateways works to generate multiple access points for youth to experience the power of the arts through collaborative community partnerships and by amplifying youth voices as the critical change agents our city desperately needs. As one of the largest and most comprehensive arts service providers in Chicago, Urban Gateways is recognized as a pioneer in advancing arts access and equity through a range of programs for youth within their communities and through experiential learning opportunities outside of their neighborhoods. 

Urban Gateways has been engaging youth in arts experiences for 60 years. Over that time, the organization has embraced the promise and the power of the arts to help us communicate, celebrate, connect, calm, and to call us to action. As we commemorate Urban Gateways’ 60th Anniversary in 2021, we remain firm in our belief that access to the arts is now more vital than ever.

Read more about our history here >>

Left: An Urban Gateways performance program in the 1960s. Right: An Urban Gateways Virtual Performance (featuring Chicago Dance Crash) in 2020.

Thank you to our 60th Anniversary sponsors: