The Aspen Institute Arts Program was established to support and invigorate the arts in America, and to return the arts to the center of the Aspen Institute's "Great Conversation." Directed by Damian Woetzel, it brings together artists, advocates, educators, managers, foundations and government officials to exchange ideas and develop policies and programs that strengthen the reciprocal relationship between the arts and society.

ArtStrike Chicago, Benito Juarez High School


The Arts Program staged its latest ArtStrike in conjunction with the announcement of Chicago's “Be Creative: The Campaign for Creative Schools” at Benito Juarez High School in the Pilsen neighborhood of Chicago on October 21. The entire event was part of a launch to raise $38 million aimed at bringing arts education to every student in the Chicago Public Schools, which designates the arts as a “core subject” on the same level as science or math. Arts Program director Damian Woetzel served as one of the honorary co-chairs for the event, along with Yo-Yo Ma, Renée Fleming, and Theaster Gates. The ArtStrike took place in Benito Juarez’s recently remodeled performing-arts wing, where Ma, Fleming, Woetzel, and 2014 Harman-Eisner Artist in Residence Lil Buck visited with band, chorus, and drama students. In less than an hour, with the help of Chicago Shakespeare Theater, they arranged a performance with the students that served as the finale to the Creative Schools announcement, during which speeches were delivered in support of the campaign by, among others, Mayor Rahm Emanuel and Senator Dick Durbin. The students, co-chairs, and Lil Buck interpreted Puck’s final monologue from Midsummer Night’s Dream. Drama students and CST performers recited the monologue, while Lil Buck was transformed into “Lil Puck,” and Fleming, members of the Benito Juarez chorus, and Ma performed the finale of Felix Mendelssohn’s score to Midsummer. The campaign has already raised $11 million. Rahm Emanuel said, “The Campaign for Creative Schools is one of the nation’s most ambitious arts education programs. CPS students…will learn creative habits of mind that will benefit them for the rest of their lives.”

Watch the performance here:

Feature: Arts Program at the 2014 Aspen Ideas Festival
Engaging At-Risk Youth and the Justice System

the work of storycatchers theatre, with meade palidofsky, angelica garcia, and philip kennicott

How are the arts effective in correctional institutions and rehabilitation? And how can they act as a positive interceptor for at-risk youth before and after they may have entered the justice system? Join the director and a participant in Chicago's Storycatchers Theatre, which has worked with at-risk youth for over 25 years, as they discuss the work of the arts in corrections and rehabilitation.