Theaster Gates

University of Chicago Visual Arts Professor and head of the Rebuild Foundation Theaster Gates has been named special advisor for arts initiatives to the school's president, Paul Alivisatos. 

Gates will be responsible for building partnerships and planning infrastructure for various arts initiatives, including ones off-campus.

Gates has fundraised more than $100 million for the not-for-profit Rebuild Foundation's art, cultural development and work restoring distressed buildings like the Stony Island Arts Bank, 6760 S. Stony Island Ave., for use as gathering spaces, programming, exhibitions and as housing.

“I remain excited about the work that I do on behalf of the community in partnership with the University of Chicago. In this new role, I hope to work with the Office of the President to create more cultural space and greater opportunities for artists at the University, city wide, and beyond,” Gates said in a statement. 

“Jackson Park, Washington Park, Grand Crossing, Kenwood, and the corridors of 53rd, 55th, 61st, Cottage Grove and Stony Island deserve more cultural investment and advocates that can restore these once bursting districts of culture to their original grandeur. There is no shortage of talent, but because of structural racism, segregation, and infrastructural divestment, the places for joy and celebration have dwindled. I want to be a part of changing that.”

Gates is also director of the U. of C.'s Arts + Public Life program, a senior advisor for cultural innovation and an advisor to the Harris School of Public Policy dean.

Alivisatos praised the development in a statement.

“Theaster is a world-class artist whose practice is situated in a city with a rich cultural legacy and a robust arts community,” he said. “I look forward to working with Theaster in this new role as we work to leverage the city’s tradition of artistic excellence and advance arts practice at the university and more broadly.”

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