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 as a part of the Chicago “Be Creative: The Campaign for Creative Schools,” announcement made by Mayor Rahm Emanuel at Benito Juarez High School on October 21. Arts Program director Damian Woetzel served as an honorary co-chair for the event, along with Yo-Yo Ma, Renée Fleming, and Theaster Gates. In an assembly at the close of the school day, speeches were delivered in support of the campaign by, among others, Rahm Emanuel and Senator Dick Durbin. Earlier that day, the ArtStrike took place in Benito Juarez’s recently remodeled performing-arts wing, bringing Ma, Fleming, Woetzel, and 2014 Harman-Eisner Artist in Residence Lil Buck to visit with band, chorus, and drama students. It culminated in a performance of Puck’s final monologue from Midsummer Night’s Dream that was staged in conjunction with the Chicago Shakespeare Theater. Lil Buck danced as “Lil Puck” with drama students from Benito Juarez and Chicago Shakespeare Theater, while Fleming, members of the Benito Juarez chorus, and Ma performed the finale of Felix Mendelssohn’s score to Midsummer. The whole event was part of a launch to raise money for Chicago Public Schools, which designates the arts as a “core subject” on the same level as science or math. The goal of the campaign is to raise $38 million; it has already raised $11 million. “The Campaign for Creative Schools is one of the nation’s most ambitious arts education programs,” said Emanuel. “CPS students…will learn creative habits of mind that will benefit them for the rest of their lives.”

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.