School of the Art Institute of Chicago

School of the Art Institute of Chicago

Year Completed

Type of Work
Strategic Planning
Community Engagement

Image Credits
(1) SAIC Day of Service, 2016
(2) Interior of Homan Square, prior to renovations, courtesy of the Homan Square Foundation
(3) Final Report

Community Engagement

The School of the Art Institute (SAIC) approached Bespoke to develop a strategic plan to guide a creative community engagement initiative for their new satellite campus at Homan Square. The main ambition for this project was to create an artist-based and neighbourhood-led initiative that can support cultural revitalization in an under-invested neighbourhood in the West side community of North Lawndale.

Bespoke worked closely with SAIC’s Office of Community Engagement and facilitated a half-day visioning session with artists, faculty and staff, to discuss what community engagement means within the complex context of Chicago. From this visioning session we identified relevant best practice precedents that harness the incredible assets of SAIC, as well as engage local artists and neighbourhood stakeholders. We also worked with the client to think through how the arts can be a catalyst for addressing real concerns.

The results of our work are proving instrumental to the partnership between Homan Square and SAIC. With the site now open, Bespoke’s research has been integrated into the curriculum as a teaching aid for cultural planning and community engagement. Our final planning report proposed guiding principles, a governance model and rollout plan to establish meaningful collaborations amongst communities, citizen artists and institutions.