On Saturday, September 21, Revival Arts Collective co-hosted Reinvent/Reinvest with See Potential as part of a larger project entitled Revival: Bronzeville.
The Revival Arts Collective (RAC) is a network of citizen activists committed to using arts and culture as a catalyst for community redevelopment in the city of Chicago.
The Revival Arts Collective was conceived in 2011 by Frankie M. Brown, Andres L. Hernandez, and L. Anton Seals Jr., and has continued to evolve through the support and efforts of other Chicago activists, artists, designers, educators, and entrepreneurs.
Revival: Bronzeville was envisioned as a vehicle for increasing citizen dialogue and participation in Chicago’s community redevelopment activities, particularly in areas where physical and economic improvements were planned, but have unfortunately stalled or slowed to a halt. Given this context, Revival: Bronzeville offered an arts-based community development approach to jump-start conversations around neighborhood revitalization, and creatively engage local citizens in these efforts.
Focusing on citizen-driven, community development through the arts, Revival: Bronzeville consisted of public art installations, arts programming, public dialogues, and panel presentations around six topic areas: arts and culture, community engagement, education, economic development, health and wellness, and history and preservation.
Revival: Bronzeville took its form and name from the tradition of religious revival meetings, in which ministers and fellow church members fulfill their evangelical missions by traveling to communities across the country, pitching large tents to serve as temporary houses of worship, and after a few days, packing up and moving on to the next community. Revival: Bronzeville operated in a similar, yet secular fashion.
IIT Urban Activators | Neighborhood Placemaking
Urban Activators is a rotating group of students from the Illinois Institute of Technology who work with the Bronzeville community to research and identify solutions through urban design. Through research, community engagement, local organization partnership and stakeholder meetings Urban Activators propose small and effective ways to improve the Bronzeville community.
Each semester long cohort of students is called "IPRO" and designs both on- and off-line tools for engagement. IPRO 330 installed The Forum's beloved "Forum Chalk" from which we continue to gather community input in response to the question, "I Wish 43rd Street Was..."
SEE POTENTIAL transformed The Forum Hall, a former ballroom and meeting hall into a rallying point for the community. They put up regal images of famous musicians performing in The Forum, reminding residents of the days when jazz royalty such as Ella Fitzgerald, Duke Ellington, and Milt Hinton played there. The center photograph features Nat King Cole while the photographs on either side highlight the next generation of musicians - Maggie Brown and Discopoet Khari B. Below the photographs is a call to action encouraging the community to text in their support for rebuilding The Forum.
CRib Productions is a family of student and professional digital artists who together make collaborative art in film and related digital art platforms.
In the Spring of 2014, CRib Productions wrapped a 3-day shoot using The Forum's interior and exterior as a backdrop for a short film taking place in the jazz age and the present day.
Juke Joint is currently in post-production with anticipated release in 2015 and premiered a rough cut of the film during An Evening at The Forum.
QCDC | An Evening at The Forum
On September 24, The Forum partnered with Quad Communities Development Corporation to present a finale to the Bronzeville Nights summer series. An Evening at The Forum paid homage to the Golden Age of Bronzeville in the forum of a retro-themed block party. The evening revived key elements of the era - notably music and dance - while drawing the attention of locals and visitors to major redevelopment projects slated for historic 43rd Street.
Late in the Summer of 2014, The Forum invited local artists to claim the sidewalk space on the Calumet side of the building as their personal office. Artists' Office Hours were a casual exchange between local artists and neighbors to the Forum. As opposed to an open studio or rehearsal, Artists' Office Hours are simple: an open air workspace for artists to handle their everyday activities in a different context and a moment for residents to glimpse into the glory & grind of the art business.
Discopoet Khari B., Amanda Williams, and Cauleen Smith answered the call with unique responses to a very public space. Khari B. commandeered the Forum Chalk to present an original, site-specific poem. Amanda Williams decided to put her pedagogy forward by encouraging one of her undergraduate students to present his work to "real people." Cauleen Smith cleared house by setting up a "fire sale" of fabrics leftover from her projects and wound up teaching a young man to sew a bit for a simple repair.
Chicago Architecture Foundation | Open House Chicago 2014
In 2014, the Chicago Architecture Foundation chose The Forum to be a featured site for Open House Chicago.
Over the course of 10 hours across two days in October, over 1100 people came to visitor The Forum, intrigued by its glorious past and inquisitive about its imminent future.