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ART & Looking Ahead

December 8, 2021 @ 7:00 pm

Virtual Event

ART & Looking Ahead is the final event in a six-part speaker series (ART &), part of Urban Gateways’ 60th Anniversary celebration in 2021.

Through the ART & Speaker Series, Urban Gateways invites our supporters and community members to explore connections between the arts and a variety of timely and thought-provoking topics. Presented in a virtual speaker series format, ART & events feature creative and insightful contributors including artists, arts and community leaders, art enthusiasts, and more.

The ART & series is free to the public, although a $19.61 ticket donation per event is suggested for those who are able to contribute (in honor of Urban Gateways’ founding year, 1961).

ART & events will also be made available as recordings for on-demand viewing.

ART & Looking Ahead
Wednesday, December 8 @ 7pm CST

Join us on YouTube >>

2020-2021 has been a trying time for artists and arts organizations; many have had to completely reimagine how they work and create. In this conversation, speakers will discuss the obstacles they’ve experienced and how they plan to move forward in the years to come.

ART & Looking Ahead featured speakers:

Ira S. Murfin

Ira S. Murfin is a cultural programmer, theatre + performance artist, scholar, and writer based in Chicago. He holds the Interdisciplinary PhD in Theatre & Drama from Northwestern University, where his research investigated the relationship between media, cultural institutions, and disciplinary categories in late 20th Century artistic vanguards, and an MFA in Writing from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. His creative practice focuses on extemporaneous talk as performance material. His work has been presented at the Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago, Chicago Cultural Center, Links Hall, Neo-Futurists Theater, and Rhinoceros Theatre Festival, among other places. His scholarship and criticism has appeared in both scholarly and general interest publications. He also regularly leads conversations, gives talks, and writes contextual material for audiences at Chicago performing arts institutions, including serving eight seasons as a PreAmble Lecturer with Chicago Shakespeare Theater. Currently, he focuses on facilitating public programming for and with communities across Chicago. Most recently, he held a Mellon/ACLS Public Fellowship as Program Manager for Neighborhood Partnerships with the Chicago Humanities Festival.


Jackie Taylor

Ms. Taylor serves as the Founder, Executive Director and CEO of the 46-year-old Black Ensemble Theater. Jackie Taylor has written, produced and directed more than 100 plays and musical biographies, including Don’t Make Me Over (The Story of Dionne Warwick), The Marvin Gaye Story, I Am Who I Am (The Story of Teddy Pendergrass), God Is A Black Man Named Ricky, Those Sensational Soulful 60’s, The Other Cinderella, Somebody Say Amen, At Last: A Tribute To Etta James, and The Jackie Wilson Story, among a myriad of other highly regarded productions. She is a theater graduate from Loyola University, has a Master’s in Education from the American College of Education and holds a Doctor of Humane Letters from DePaul University. Ms. Taylor is also an educator, having taught in the Chicago Public Schools for more than 35 years.

Ms. Taylor is a consummate actress, having starred in numerous theatrical productions with many major theaters. She won national attention in her first film, Cooley High. She has gone on to be featured in several other films including Barber Shop II, To Sir With Love: Part II, Hoodlum, and Losing Isiah. Her television credits include being featured in such television shows as Early Edition, The Father Clements Story, and several television specials where, as a celebrity, she played herself. Jackie has worked with Sidney Poitier, Vanessa Williams, Bill Duke, Ice Cube, Steven Williams, and Spike Lee, just to name a few.

Urban Gateways has been engaging young people in arts experiences to inspire creativity and impact social change since 1961. Visit our 60th Anniversary page to keep tabs on more events & celebrations, and find recordings for past speaker series events at our ART & page.

ART & events:

ART & Storytelling: February 10th
ART & Race: April 14th
ART & Resistance: June 9th
ART & Healing: August 11th
ART & Changemaking: October 13th
ART & Looking Ahead: December 8th

Special thanks to our ART & Speaker Series sponsors:

Interested in sponsoring the ART & Speaker Series?
Learn more here >>


December 8, 2021
7:00 pm


Virtual Event