A screen capture of the Free Street Theater's Cultural Asset Map displays a developing collection of the McKinley Park neighborhood's artists, community spaces and other cultural resources.

Cultural Assets Map Highlights McKinley Park's Creative Community

Published April 28, 2021

Led by more than a dozen artists from nine communities on Chicago’s South and West sides, the Cultural Asset Mapping Project seeks to support performing arts locations, initiatives and artists by developing a public map of cultural spaces, as well as telling community narratives that will highlight the neighborhoods' cultural richness.

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The project is specific to the McKinley Park, Back of the Yards, Brighton Park, Gage Park and Englewood neighborhoods. The Chicago Department of Cultural Affairs and the Chicago League of Theaters provided funding for the program.

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Two of the organizing artists, Cristal Alba and Donna Gary of Free Street Theater, are focusing on documenting cultural assets. The pair is asking McKinley Park creators, organizers, and residents to take a survey that will help tell the story of what culture looks like in the neighborhood. Click here to access this survey.

According to Free Street Theater’s survey, qualifying cultural assets range from “young people’s after-school art groups and quinceañera choreographers” to “the children’s story hour at your local library or the elotero that always knows the word.”

The interactive Cultural Assets Map from the Free Street Theater shows a growing collection of artists, cultural assets and locations on Chicago's Southwest and South Sides.

Survey responses will be added to the public map of art initiatives. They will also be shared with the City of Chicago to determine where cultural resources are lacking and how they can be improved in each of the participating neighborhoods.

Coordinators will be reaching out with information about possible paid opportunities to community members who submit survey responses. The pair plans to hire a team of one project lead, five storytellers and other designers and technicians as needed to work on an oral history art project that will capture the thriving culture of McKinley Park.

Questions about the project can be directed to either of the co-coordinators: Donna Gary at donna@freestreet.org, or Cristal Alba at cristal@freestreet.org.

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