Manifesto

ArtReach empowers and connects people through the practice of visual arts.

Art is access - We provide entry.

Art is radical - We are fearless.

Art is progress - We are the future.

Art is freedom - We are power.

We enact our mission by providing mobile and studio access to under-served Chicagoans of all ages. Through mobile community programs, in-school residencies, afterschool programs and field trips, ArtReach extends access to high quality arts tools, professionals, and spaces throughout the city. In our Firehouse community art studio, we provide a safe space for diverse individuals to develop art skills as well as studio management or teaching experience. 

Our Vision

All Chicagoans, regardless of background or identity, have access to diverse, high quality art professionals, tools, and spaces in order to build confident, creative, empowered communities. We bring people together not based on where they came from but where art can take them.

Our Values

  • Art is a human right. All people need creative outlets. This is especially true for communities that are traditionally under-served and under-resourced.
  • Art promotes empathy by helping us imagine ourselves in and as others. As such, art instruction involves attention to issues of social justice. We are committed to amplifying the creative voices of diverse populations with attention to difference related to poverty, age, ability, mental health, legal status, gender, racial and ethnic identity, language, and more.
  • Art endures over centuries as an artifact of our humanity and cultures. Art-making is universal, but is not universally supported or recognized. Everyone should have access to high quality tools and resources to add to our creative history.
  • People are not defined by their challenges or limitations. Art-making equalizes us.
  • Art-making is valuable in its own right, although it can build confidence generally and improve other facets of life.
  • Art programming should focus on asking questions, or inquiry, rather than solely on the product or process.
  • Creating a safe space for collaborative art-making can build the confidence amongst its participants that leads to a sense of belonging, pride, and, eventually, ownership, leadership, and responsibility.
  • Art as a practice demonstrates that failure is one part of human growth and encourages creative problem solving.
  • Art-making expands our capacity for joy.
  • Teaching and learning are mutual and reciprocal processes. Teachers also learn from their students, and students also teach their instructors.

Our History

Founded in 1990, ArtReach is the non-profit sister organization to the Lillstreet Art Center, one of the largest art facilities in the Original LogoUS. The desire to bring Lillstreet’s transformative arts education to audiences with limited access, led to the creation of the Lillstreet Learning Center as a 501(c)3 organization. Over the years, the mission of this organization grew as we served communities throughout Chicago. In 2005 we became ArtReach and remained the preferred nonprofit partner of Lillstreet Art Center, even as we expanded to our Firehouse Art Studio location in 2015. Today, ArtReach Chicago honors the legacy of its roots at a community art center by empowering and connecting people all over Chicago through the practice of visual arts.