On Method and Mapping: The Chicago Arts Census for All

Friday, Nov 5, 2021
3pm EDT/12noon PDT
Field in Practice: 90 minutes

Open Call Session
Organized by Chicago Arts Census
Presenters: Kate Bowen, Alden Burke, Stephanie Koch, Adia Sykes

The Chicago Arts Census is the first comprehensive data collection and analysis project made by, for, and with the art workers of Chicago on the topics of labor and quality of life. This session will feature the Census' lead organizers sharing the methodologies, tools, and resources used to build the project—currently running through December 2021—with the goal of empowering other cities, regions, neighborhoods, and sectors to facilitate large-scale data research projects in order to grow advocacy efforts within and for their respective communities.

From the session organizers:

The first half of the session will be dedicated to sharing out the process of building the census – along with roadblocks, milestones, and learnings from the process – including:

  1. Methods for Research: How to frame your research question, narrow your scope for a strong data set, establish a comprehensive and comparative literature review.

  2. Methods for Collective Authorship: How to organize Steering, Research & Development, Community Liaison, and Peer Review committees, how to establish standards for accessibility and intersectionality.

  3. Methods for Dissemination and Engagement: Issues and considerations for equitable distribution across the axes of age, ability, geography, discipline, and technology access; promotion and reciprocal partnerships; building trust and long-term relationships.

  4. Methods for Coalition Building: How do non-profit and organizing bodies use this information to tend to their audiences, and how do organizers better connect mission-aligned work along the way while envisioning new support structures.


Kate Bowen is an artist and educator living and working in Chicago, IL. She is currently the Executive Director of ACRE (Artists' Cooperative Residency & Exhibitions); an artist-led, community focused residency and exhibition program based in Chicago, IL and Steuben, WI. She is the Treasurer and member of the Board of Pilsen Alliance; a non-profit focused on raising grassroots leadership and fighting for community self-determination on Chicago's lower south side. As an organizer and arts worker her practice is grounded in collaborative, abundant community building. She believes in open experimental platforms and feral pedagogical systems. She also works with the Museum of Contemporary Photography as their Video Programs Coordinator and as a technical assistant to the artist Barbara Kasten.

Alden Burke (she/her) is a Chicago-based educator, facilitator, and writer driven by the question “What are we going to learn from one another?" Her work centers around supporting collaborative making, process-based work, care in administrative practices, and creative sustainability. Alden is the Co-Founder of Annas, the Program Manager at Design for America, and a Lead Organizer for the Chicago Arts Census.

Stephanie Koch is a facilitator, curator, and writer based in St. Louis and Chicago. She engages in institution-building as a creative practice and exhibition-making as a site of testing sociopolitical possibilities. Koch received a BA in Political Science from the University of Chicago and an MA in Visual and Critical Studies from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. In all roles, she creates arts administrative structures which seek to sustain creative practitioners: their lives, their research, and the communities in which they engage. She is currently the Gallery Director of The Luminary, an art institution based in St. Louis focused on art, thought, and action, and a Co-Founder of Annas, an independent art space based in Chicago dedicated to the critical role of exhibiting process and collaborative process. She is also a Lead Organizer of the 2021 Chicago Arts Census.

Adia Sykes (she/her) is a Chicago-based independent curator and arts organizer. Her practice seeks to center philosophies of improvisation, intuition, and care, engaging them as tools by which meaningful relationships between artists and viewers can be cultivated, while leaving space for the vernacular to mingle with constructs of history and theory. She has realized projects with the Art Institute of Chicago, Sullivan Galleries, Chicago Mayor’s Office, ACRE, Woman Made Gallery, Centro Arte Opificio Siri in Italy, and others.