CHICAGO (AP) — A Chicago nonprofit formed to highlight the lack of leaders of color within the city’s arts and cultural systems is asking artists of color to imagine what the nation’s third-largest city could look like without stubborn inequities in art, theater and other institutions.

The first phase of Enrich Chicago’s new program, called Imagine Just, begins this month. The series of brainstorming sessions will ask artists, performers and other Chicagoans to imagine what an equitable arts and cultural scene could look like.

Nina Sánchez, co-director of Enrich Chicago, sees the project as an expansion of the organization’s focus on anti-racism training and education within Chicago’s arts and cultural community.


The organization was founded in 2014 by former leaders of the influential Joyce Foundation and the Auditorium Theatre. It now counts more than 50 arts and cultural organizations as partners.

But the coronavirus pandemic and widespread activism during the

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How essential is an artist?

Art, you’ve noticed, has been idle.

The artist, in pandemic Chicago, has been stripped of stages, classrooms, materials. Many, who were already working two or three jobs for supplemental income, were stripped of second and third jobs. Some, seeing little light at the end of the COVID tunnel, have probably given up already.

Even a starving artist can last only so long.

And yet, remarkable as it may be seem in 2020, there was a moment, about a decade long, when this country and its White House, eager to get Americans to work, considered its artists essential.

You live everyday with that legacy.

Consider the South Side Community Art Center, an 80-year old institution in a 130-year old Classical Revival house. It rests in an unassuming lot on book profits South Michigan Avenue. It is tall and austere, warm and a bit removed from its

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