Our Living Vision

Building a just and equitable arts and culture ecosystem

We declare that the contributions and creativity of ALAANA/BIPOC people have been and continue to be essential to our city’s cultural vibrancy and economic growth. We deserve to be supported to truly flourish.

However, like many other systems across this country, Chicago’s arts and culture sector upholds white supremacy and other systems of oppression. There are stark disparities in funding, leadership, access, and representation, especially across racial and ethnic lines. These inequities hurt us all, and keep us from realizing our fullest potential.

We strongly stand apart from these oppressive frames and tap into our collective wisdom and imagination as we shape an equitable and just ecosystem — an ecosystem where Chicago’s arts and culture sector not only survives, but thrives.

Our Pathways

Our vision for a just and equitable arts and culture ecosystem is centered on three pathways: creatives, communities, and cultures. Each pathway includes several actionable strategies for systemic change and related ideas from our community co-creation sessions.

A lightbulb against an orange background


We support creative freedom for individuals and groups


  • 01

    Invest in intergenerational arts education, programming, 
and career development.

  • 02

    Create a range 
of community-driven funding models that 
are flexible, consistent, and transparent.

  • 03

    Increase and facilitate access to healthcare, housing, and living wages for artists/creatives.

  • 04

    Foster peer support and knowledge sharing for arts and culture career development.

A building next to a tree against a bright green background.


We sustain vibrancy in places and spaces


  • 05

    Invest in hyperlocal, intersectional assets to catalyze creative and cultural value within neighborhoods.

  • 06

    Prioritize restorative approaches to community development that retain and create generational wealth and preserve and highlight culture in neighborhoods.

  • 07

    Reallocate arts and culture investments to historically disinvested and marginalized groups and communities.

  • 08

    Integrate arts as a tool/method to address inequities across sectors and communities.

Four hands overlaid and holding each other’s wrists, forming a square, against a pink background.


We shift towards towards shared power and ownership in paradigms and practices


  • 09

    Expose and disrupt classist and racist disparities between the perceived value of different creative forms, disciplines and roles within arts and culture.

  • 10

    Include and elevate the value of lived experience in arts and culture.

  • 11

    Decentralize power in leadership and decision-making structures.

  • 12

    Expand cultural consciousness within and beyond the arts and culture sector.

This vision has been updated as of 10/8/21. To view previous versions, click here

To better understand how we arrived to these strategies, read more about our co-creation process.

Creative Responses

Artists are vital in driving change. Through artistic processes, artists catalyze conversation, simultaneously adding complexity and illuminating clarity. Our embedded artists used the medium or discipline of their choice to reflect on, respond to, and interpret the Imagine Just co-creation and visioning process. Their work is a vital part in shaping this vision of a transformed arts and culture ecosystem, as well as the stories found within.

A reflection

by Vershawn Sanders-Ward

With the People

by Sadia Nawab and Monica Rickert-Bolter

Want to share a learning or reflection?

We’re always learning and adapting, and we welcome productive discussion. What are you feeling? What questions remain? What are you moved to do?

Vision Reflection

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