Two of Chicago’s Oldest Arts Service Providers Merge

News • Press Releases

Art Resources in Teaching and Urban Gateways are pleased to announce their merger effective July 2013 to help improve and expand arts education and opportunities for Chicago youth. Founded in 1894 and 1961 respectively, Art Resources in Teaching (A.R.T.) and Urban Gateways have a combined 171 years of serving children in need with free access to high-quality arts experiences amid the longstanding and systematic reduction of arts education in public schools.

Like other non-profit organizations, A.R.T. was severely affected by a combination of recession, public policy challenges, and limited philanthropic support. In response, the A.R.T. board elected to suspend operations and seek a merger partner to help assure the viability and continuation of its key programs and services. The mutual recognition that both organizations share similar missions, values and services, provides a solid foundation for this merger.

A.R.T. will be identified as Urban Gateways’ Visual Arts Program portfolio, incorporating artist residencies and special initiatives in painting, sculpture, fiber/textile arts, printmaking, graphic design, photography, animation, and other mediums for students Pre-K through 12th grades. Other Urban Gateways teaching and performance programs are offered in music, dance, theatre and literary arts, making it one of the largest and most comprehensive arts service providers in Chicago.

Urban Gateways is also establishing an A.R.T. Giving Circle to maintain a direct recognition for A.R.T. donors; inviting A.R.T. Teaching Artists and Board Members to join the Urban Gateways community, and implementing specific A.R.T. signature programs to carry forward the Art Resources in Teaching’s legacy. A celebration event for Urban Gateways and A.R.T. community members will be held on Tuesday, September 12, 2013 from 5:30pm to 7:30pm in the Ryan Education Center at The Art Institute of Chicago.

According to Karim Ahamed, the outgoing chairman of A.R.T., “Although we are sad to close A.R.T. operations after 119 years, we have found an ideal partner in Urban Gateways. Like A.R.T., they are committed to enriching the lives of Chicago school children by giving them access to high quality arts education. We are especially grateful to Urban Gateways for allowing the A.R.T. legacy to live on, both through the rebranding of their visual arts programming under the A.R.T. umbrella and by continuing some of our most successful programs and initiatives under the combined organization.”

Chicago’s new Cultural Plan, CPS Arts Education Plan, and new Common Core State Learning Standards have drawn renewed attention to organizations like Urban Gateways and A.R.T. as consistently reliable resources for high-quality arts programs. “Arts education is now widely recognized as an essential part of youth development, while consistent funding remains a significant challenge. This merger enables professional artists to continue inspiring and educating students across Chicago under a more sustainable administrative structure”, explains Urban Gateways Executive Director Eric Delli Bovi.

The organizations’ complementary and overlapping visual arts programs will generate new capacity to deliver high-quality programs under shared educational standards. Combined community-based efforts will enable the growth of new and existing partnerships and sustainability strategies as both organizations are committed to initiatives that serve many of Chicago’s most under-served neighborhoods. The merger will also provide an immediate and positive impact on Urban Gateways’ capacity to serve more children with engaging arts programs while significantly reducing the combined administrative costs of both institutions. These administrative cost savings are estimated to reach $250,000 or more annually by merging staff, office and other expenses, providing a compelling case for continued and increased funding from donors to support these vital programs.

About Urban Gateways and Art Resources in Teaching

Urban Gateways’ mission is to educate and inspire young people by delivering high-quality, accessible arts experiences that advance their personal and academic growth. Urban Gateways engages Chicago’s youth in arts activities that build essential skills like creativity, collaboration and innovation, and improves the self-esteem and confidence necessary to succeed in life. Founded in 1961 with a purpose to ensure that all young people have full access to the city’s cultural wealth, Urban Gateways is widely considered a national pioneer in the field of arts education. Particularly in under-resourced neighborhoods with deep-rooted challenges attributed to poverty, gang activity and under-performing schools, Urban Gateways strives to create alternative and positive experiences as a means to a brighter future for children and their communities.

Programs are led by some of the city’s most talented professional artists in music, dance, theater, literary arts, visual arts and digital media, serving 75,000 students and teachers annually through in-school and out-of-school residencies, community school partnerships, touring performances, professional development, and apprenticeship programs. Urban Gateways accomplishes its mission by leveraging support from numerous community partners, investing in artists through professional development and competitive wages, customizing programs to meet the needs of each program partner, and from learning and sharing best practices with the field.

Art Resources in Teaching (A.R.T.) has brought the wonder of the visual arts into the lives of Chicago’s children for 119 years. A.R.T., originally named “The Chicago Public School Art Society”, was co-founded in 1894 by Ellen Gates Starr and Jane Addams of Hull House. In the early years, members of the Chicago Public School Art Society exposed students to reproductions of the great masters and advocated for arts education. The cofounders and their compatriots believed that all children, and especially those from low-income families, should be ensured access to art and culture.

Over the years, A.R.T. has expanded upon that vision to become an innovator in exploring new ways to introduce the visual arts into the lives of students and teachers in under-served communities, including the development of new links between technology and the arts. A.R.T. has led the arts education community with model programs that integrate visual arts into core academic subjects (language arts, math, science and social studies). A.R.T. is the oldest education organization in Chicago devoted specifically to visual arts learning.