More than a Pastime: Informal Arts Improve Communities and Increase Participation Formal Arts Participation

by D. Garth Taylor

Oct 1, 2006
Street festivals, art fairs, and a wide variety of other cultural activities that take place in libraries, church basements and city parks may be found in just about every Chicago neighborhood. These are called "informal" arts activities to differentiate them from more formally established public and private cultural organizations and institutions, like The Art Institute of Chicago, the Chicago Architecture Foundation or the Chicago Theater, that are also key components of Chicago's vibrant cultural community. Because many more people participate in informal arts activities than "formal" ones, they are an important indicator of neighborhood quality of life and patterns of economic development in the City of Chicago. MCIC recently partnered with The Urban Institute in Washington DC to evaluate local datasets and measure community participation in arts and cultural activities in the City of Chicago. The research goal was to integrate arts and culture-related measures into neighborhood quality of life indicator models.
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