Event Recap

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Imagine Just:
Community Co-Creation Session 1

Dismantling Systems and Shifting Power: Themes from the First #ImagineJust Community Co-Creation Session

“How do we actually get people to let go of the models that really aren’t serving anyone?”

This question – posed by a participant during one of the breakouts in our first Community Co-Creation session – aptly sums up what we’re trying to accomplish with #ImagineJust: dismantling systems and shifting power to create a truly equitable sector.

Confronting the arts and culture sector’s complicity in uplifting white supremacist ideology is no easy task and we were nervous going into our first co-creation session. But we were energized by those who joined us, bringing an international and local perspective to our meaty conversations.

So much was covered during these meaty conversations and we want to share it all. But for now, here are a few of the core themes that jumped out for us as we reviewed our notes:

Let go of ego

This is true of the co-creation process and of our ongoing work to reimagine the sector. As one participant said “Alternative models do exist but not in ego-driven spaces’. They noted leadership examples from the natural world, such as geese who take turns flying at the head of the ‘V.’

As we build out a community of practice to support ongoing efforts to transform the sector, it will be important to maintain humility in all that we do and to learn from other organizations doing the work.

Our budgets reflect our priorities

Money and power often go hand in hand. So, it was no surprise to us that some of the conversations focused on how the city of Chicago spent its money. 

One participant noted that there is no line item for arts and culture in the city’s budget. 

Another wondered aloud what would change if just 10 percent of the police department’s budget was reallocated and used for arts and culture programming.

Powerful stuff! 

Get local

Chicago is a city of neighborhoods and many of our participants thought our arts and culture sector should both leverage and reflect that.

From ‘building up small galleries and networks in neighborhoods’ to investing in park cultural centers so they could serve as centers for learning, session participants were full of rich ideas for better integrating our neighborhoods into arts and culture communities.

For the people, by the people

Participants agreed that to truly shift power and create an anti-racist sector, we have to center the voices, needs, and leadership of ALAANA/BIPOC communities. 

This is going to take some out-of-the-box thinking. Sure, our arts institutions need more leaders of color. But one session participant suggested Chicago should have a “BIPOC-led programming platform”. Such an intriguing idea, one that could take many forms!

Ideas like this give us goosebumps and are what’s necessary to build out a strong community of practice that will ultimately transform this sector.

We can’t wait to see what the next sessions bring! Interested in joining the conversation? Register for a session today.

Tue, June 29, 2021
9:30AM – 12:30PM CST