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Remember Arts on Chicago, the arts-based community development initiative launched in 2012 by Pillsbury House + TheatreUpstream Arts, the Powderhorn Park Neighborhood AssociationThe Third Place, and MCAD Professor Natasha Pestich with support from the Ward 8 Council Office of Elizabeth Glidden? Arts on Chicago implements arts projects to knit together existing creative assets in the Central, Powderhorn, Bancroft, and Bryant communities along Chicago Avenue in South Minneapolis from 32nd Street to 42nd Street, using the process to build a framework for the ongoing support of a vibrant arts and cultural district.

With generous support from VSA Minnesota, Arts on Chicago is presenting two creative placemaking projects by artists who have disabilities or are working with and/or alongside individuals with disabilities this spring. Upstream Arts Teaching Artist Dylan Fresco will be working with students at Transition Plus to create poems and songs inspired by conversations about students’ connections with the neighborhood; and The Steadfast Allstars (made up of Catherine A. Palmer, Kim Whiteford, Christi Furnas, and Clarence Reed) will be building two mosaic benches using tiles created at public workshops taking place through May.

Also this year, thanks to a Bush Innovation Grant, the Arts on Chicago leadership team and a cohort of local artists (including Dylan and Upstream Arts Development and Communications Associate Rachel Jendrzejewski, plus Xavier Tavera, Sam Ero-Phillips, Eduardo Cardenas, and Alejandra Tobar) have been exploring the relationship between creative placemaking and traditional development. The goal of this exciting two-year grant is to increase expertise on using art and creativity as a strategy for increasing community engagement among underrepresented populations.

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