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Fall 2018 – Season Finale > Community Conversation about the Kehrein Center for the Arts

During our season finale, City Open team had the opportunity to present the engagement process and programming research developed for the Kehrein Center for the Arts to members of Catalyst Circle Rock – the partnership between Catalyst Schools, Circle Urban Ministries and Rock of our Salvation Church in the Austin community of Chicago with a campus at Central Avenue and Washington Street.

I had the great fortune of meeting Elle Ramel at a high level exclusive entrepreneur networking breakfast. After sharing with Elle my enthusiasm for the Kehrein Center for the Arts project which was under construction, she shared with me her organization City Open Workshop that she co-founded with Paola Aguirre. She offered that City Open could help our development team identify how to activate the proposed 1000 seat theatre once the project is complete.

Although we had a short window to decide to participate in the approaching cohort, I felt it crucial to take advantage of the offerings of City Open. After a four month case study of how best our space would operate, a full report and recommendations were the outcome. To my delight, City Open's team of urban design and planning professionals gave our Theatre an appropriate designation. They determined based on our design and capacity that we would be best suited as a "storytelling theater" storytelling through music, dance, drama and spoken word. With Ravinia as our Lead sponsor and a newly developed Lookingglass teaching residency, we feel confident having this unique distinction that separates us from our partners. They canvased the Chicago theatre community and discovered the capacity of a similar theatre, The Athenaeum. Today Jeff DeLong director of development for the Athenaeum has become a trusted advisor.

City Open delivered a well paved road to sustainable success. Their volunteer team of design professionals are dedicated to deliverables, motivated to make a vision come to life and most importantly, they are boots on the ground, accessible and available. They participated in our first Open House Chicago tour, surveying our community on documenting their ideas for how to use the space. The team presented their findings to our extended board members, our campus partners and a community organization Austin Coming Together.

Thanks to City Open Workshops we have successfully utilized City Open's summary presentation in meetings with donors and perspectives grant making foundations. City Open gave us the appropriate language needed to communicate with funders. The experience was invaluable and continues to yield significant measurable returns."

– Saudia Davis, Founder, Smarty Pants Are Leaders

Find more information about this project and City Open team's work in this link:

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