September Member Spotlight: Urban Gateways

Left: Street Level programming in action, photo by James Duke. Right: Teen Arts Pass, photo by Sehar Sufi.

Alliance Member Organization Urban Gateways is a place of opportunity. Founded in Chicago in 1961, the program initially gave teens and young people the opportunity to experience cultural events typically reserved for affluent audiences. Today, this student-focused organization continues to pursue this core model while expanding their services.

“As Urban Gateways developed, it expanded its reach by training artists to be educators,” says President and CEO Eric Delli Bovi. “This type of project-based work still holds today.”

One of the recent innovations in Urban Gateways’ programs is Street Level, a series of programs teaching youth about film and media in the arts. Originally its own organization, Street Level merged with Urban Gateways in 2017 and is now one of the organization’s most popular programs. By giving young people a brave space to express themselves through media and highlight important issues like segregation and racism, Urban Gateways aims to create a dialogue that leads to social change.

Another addition to Urban Gateways is the Teen Arts Pass (TAP), a program that helps provide affordable tickets to teens for shows all over Chicago. Inspired by the organization’s original mission, the program not only makes the arts world more affordable to less affluent communities, but also allows youth to appreciate the city in a new way.

Recently, the organization has also taken the opportunity to reflect on its role in the community. With an audience comprised predominantly of students of color, Urban Gateways has taken steps to understand its teens and their backgrounds better. 

“This city has changed in many ways over the decades, but in many ways it also hasn’t,” concludes Delli Bovi. “It’s important that we keep in mind ways we can combat racism since it is still so prevalent today.”

For more information please go to urbangateways.org or visit @urbangateways on social media.