2015 was the Beverly Area Arts Alliance’s (The Alliance) first time at the annual arts expo hosted by Chicago’s Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events. This year, DCASE re-invented the expo to be the region’s largest free conference for artists, creative professionals, and entrepreneurs: Lake FX Summit & Expo. We didn’t even exist last April, but beginning with the Beverly Art Walk in October, followed by pop-up exhibitions, Local Art on Tap at Horse Thief Hollow, The Frunchroom,a spoken word quarterly program, live figure drawing workshops, and more, we have made a big impact in a short period of time.
The Alliance partnered with the Beverly Area Planning Association, our neighborhood’s civic association, to showcase the arts and cultural life of Beverly, or as BAPA said, #BraggingAboutBeverly. But, we quickly learned not many expo attendees know about Beverly, or even that we are a Chicago neighborhood. Instead of pitching BAPA’s upcoming Home & Garden Tour or the Beverly Art Walk, we took a step back and began with: Do you know about Beverly?
One of the values of Lake FX, beyond the seminars, lectures, and curious public, was the interaction with fellow exhibitors. Creative communities from neighborhoods across the city were out in full force: Pullman Arts and artspace, Bridgeport Art Center, Rogers Park Arts Alliance, Cultura in Pilsen, South Shore Opera Company, and our own Beverly Arts Center. We met, shared successes and challenges, made connections for collaboration, and promised to attend each others events and activities.
We also connected with specialized resources and downtown organizations who wanted reach out to the neighborhoods – to bring their services to the neighborhoods, and to promote the neighborhoods downtown. BAPA connected with Lawyers for the Creative Arts, who will offer a free workshop for Beverly artists in June; The Alliance re-connected with Chicago Cultural Mile, Chicago Artists Coalition, Arts Alliance Illinois, and Chicago Architecture Foundation; we met with artists, musicians, performers, filmmakers from across the city and invited them to see the uprising of the arts in Beverly and to participate in our Art Walk and Hilltop Arts & Music Fest.
Thanks to DCASE for organizing, thanks to our fellow arts organizations for participating, and thanks to the curious for attending. #PuttingBeverlyOnTheMap.