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Katerina Herder

The Taste of Chicago: Arts Edition

by Katerina Herder Wednesday, August 3, 2016

You’ll often hear people say that Chicago is best in the summer - and I have to agree! Chicago offers many wonderful and unique arts and culture events throughout the year but, like tourists, they become even more visible with the warm weather of summer. Outdoor concerts, festivals, camps - I quickly found myself committed to multiple projects which together have created a well-rounded, diverse, challenging summer experience.   

Most of my time has been spent as the Programs Intern for the Arts & Business Council of Chicago. For 30 years, A&BC has worked to “strengthen non-profit arts organizations by bringing resources and expertise to the sector through consulting, training, research, and relationships.”

Last year, A&BC observed that most of their clients were located in Downtown Chicago, the North side or the North/Northwest suburbs. Driven by their mission to strengthen all small to mid-size arts organizations in Chicago, they applied for (and received) funding from the Joyce Foundation to support a workshop series that would specifically serve those organizations on the West & South sides of Chicago. For me, this project encapsulates a theme and a challenge that surfaced throughout our first-year Arts Seminar - how do you successfully introduce arts services or programs into a new neighborhood? Or from a more traditional marketing perspective - how do you enter a new market?

When I arrived in May, A&BC had already laid a solid and strategic foundation by:

  • Identifying neighborhood partners who would host the workshops and help promote them in the neighborhood (Beverly Arts Center and Segundo Ruiz Belvis Cultural Center)
  • Leading a preliminary workshop at each location
  • Surveying organizations who attended the test workshop to determine which topics were the most important to them
  • Starting a contact list of arts and culture organizations in each neighborhood

With one month before the first workshop, my primary task was to employ various marketing channels to create awareness and drive attendance at the six workshops. We’re exactly halfway through the series with three left to go in August and we’ve seen increasing attendance at each workshop. I’m carefully tracking all communication and collecting surveys from participants so that before I leave, I can compile a final report that will help Joyce and A&BC continue to develop this outreach initiative.

I’ve also been working with Dance for Life which began in 1992 as an urgent response to the HIV/AIDS crisis that the dance community felt so acutely. Today DFL has evolved from a one night event to an entire non-profit organization, Chicago Dancers United, whose mission is to “mobilize our city’s diverse and dynamic dance community in support of organizations and individuals facing critical health issues.” I am honored to be a part of DFL’s 25th Anniversary celebration and support Chicago’s vibrant dance community as the Event Associate Producer. I’ve been creating marketing content, managing the social media campaign, and archiving 25 years of materials for DFL’s exihibit at the Newberry Library. I’m looking forward to seeing it all come together on August 20th!

Finally, I’ve rounded out my summer as a Field Data Collector with Arts Alliance Illinois. Arts Alliance Illinois is responsible for collecting data throughout the entire state for Arts & Economic Prosperity 5, the fifth national economic impact study of America’s nonprofit arts and culture industry published by the Americans for the Arts. As a Data Collector, I’ve gone to different arts and culture events in Chicago and distributed surveys to attendees. It has been an incredible opportunity to interact with people throughout the city and a great reason to get out and see everything Chicago has to offer!

In our first-year Arts Seminar, we talked a lot about the importance of an organization’s “mission, vision and values.” I feel so lucky to have contributed to three unique companies whose missions I support this summer. It’s hard to believe that in a little over a month all of my projects will be wrapped up and I’ll be back in Madison to kick off the school year as a second-year MBA!