Lee Bey

Lee Bey is one of Chicago's keenest observers of architecture and urban planning. This month, he is shutting down his WBEZ blog, "Beyond the Boat Tour" after four years. He is leaving to join the team at the University of Chicago's Arts Incubator in Washington Park. Bey joins us to discuss his new gig, the one he's leaving, and life in Chicago.


Emily Hooper LansanaRead an interview with the Art Incubator's Associate Director, Emily Hooper Lansana.

What is the Arts Incubator?

The Arts Incubator is one of the program initiatives by the University of Chicago’s Arts + Public Life. The Arts Incubator is located in Washington Park on the corner of 55th and Prairie, and it opened March 2013. We aim to build a connection between our artists, the university and the community.

What’s changed since the opening of the Arts Incubator in March 2013?

We’ve had over 50 events and well over 3,000 people attend our programs. The Arts Incubator offers a wide variety of programs that engage members of both the University of Chicago and the community. We had a program this summer called “Public Dialogue” that served as a conversation with the community. We also host diverse exhibitions and programs in the gallery space produced in partnership with other organizations. The program, “Black Power! In Tribute to Fred Hampton” was sponsored by Center for the Study of Race, Politics and Culture at the University of Chicago and Logan Center of the Arts.

Lee Bey announced he will be joining the Arts Incubator; what will his role be?

Lee will have a critical role in helping us more deeply engage in the community by nurturing partnerships and posturing discussion. The goal is to connect with the community through arts and culture.

What direction do you see the Arts Incubator going in the next few years?

It is important to us to continue to support the work of local artists. Through our artist-in-residence program, we offer studio space and support for Chicago-based artists. This year we selected three artists -- Krista Franklin, Andres Hernandez and David Boykin -- to be a part of the program, and they will be offered an engaging space to actively engage with the community. We also offer a design apprenticeship program (DAP) to not only give artists more resources, but to help them become stewards for the community as well.

What impact does Washington Park have on the program?

The program is in a historic neighborhood on the south side that’s opening the door to active engagement in the community and the university. Washington Park is a community rich with culture where many historical African American artists and leaders contributed important work.

Why is the Arts Incubator important to the community?

One of the reasons it's important is because of what it meant to its location. Before we moved in, this corner was abandoned. We’ve created an excited source for cultural exchange. We host a variety of perspectives and experiences, and offer a place where people can come with different questions and share different lessons.

Interview has been condensed and edited.