The University of Chicago’s Arts Incubator in Washington Park opened in March of 2013 with the goal of using the arts to facilitate the transformation of an underserved neighborhood. Lead by visual artist Theaster Gates as part of the University’s Arts + Public Life initiative, the Arts Incubator on Garfield Boulevard brings together Gate’s mission of using art as a conduit for community-driven neighborhood transformation and the University’s commitment to improving its interactions with neighboring communities. Using the Arts Incubator as a catalyst for broader, transformative change on Garfield, UChicago sought a partner to bring the vision to life.

Otherwise joined forces with the Arts + Public Life team to create a Pitch Book to convey the Initiative’s vision to prospective donors, foundations, government agencies and the broader community. In addition to its role as a branding device for fundraising, the Pitch Book needed to position the project as a vehicle for like-minded city and region-wide organizations to have a presence in Southside arts and culture, and establish the Arts Block as a national model for how institutions and communities connect culturally and economically.









As advocates for the arts and longtime collaborators with Gates, Otherwise principles Nancy Lerner and David Frej led the project, focused on creating a brand tool that was inspiring, engaging and true.

Out of our work came The Arts Block: A New Partnership for Culture-Driven Neighborhood Change, a sophisticated, resonant piece that paints a vivid picture of the potential for cultural activation to drive neighborhood revitalization.