When Chicago Public Schools (CPS) announced remote learning plans in March, Ingenuity’s Data and Research Director, Steve Shewfelt, looked to artlook® to support the arts sector’s shift to an unfamiliar format.

Since 2013, Ingenuity’s online data-mapping platform, artlook®, has helped cities across the U.S. track student arts access to support equitable arts partnerships and programs. Key to the platform is its partnership-making capabilities between schools and arts partner organizations.

“As schools shifted to e-learning, we wanted to ensure the arts sector was just as much a part of the classroom experience online as they were in schools,” said Shewfelt. “We wanted to make sure the independent teaching artists and small arts organizations weren’t left behind.”

The pandemic has had devastating economic impacts across all sectors. For the 600+ arts organizations and independent teaching artists working in CPS each year, the pandemic has halted the in-school programs, field trips, and performances relied upon for revenue. According to a statewide survey conducted by Arts Alliance Illinois, these closures impact 24,228 individual events or performances, 3,581 full-time jobs, 13,235 part-time/contract jobs, and nearly 2.5 million audience members or participants, including programs intended for students.

With arts education program cancellations mounting, Shewfelt and his team pivoted quickly to adapt artlook®–originally designed to support in-person programs and performances–to support virtual offerings. They named the new tool, which aggregates online arts resources from participating artlook® communities in Chicago, Jacksonville, Florida, and Maryland, the artlook® Virtual Learning Library.

“With the artlook® Virtual Learning Library, we wanted to provide arts organizations and teaching artists a free opportunity to promote their virtual programs, not just in Chicago but across the country,” said Tom Bunting, Data and Products Manager at Ingenuity. “We wanted to give teachers and parents access to resources to supplement their remote instruction and, ultimately, ensure the arts remained an integral part of the student experience.”

Since launching in late April, more than 70 arts partners have uploaded over 200 programs to the library. Offering online programs across artistic disciplines and in varying formats, the artlook® Virtual Learning Library provides teachers and families unparalleled access to online arts education opportunities to use with their learners. 

“With this massive disruption to students’ daily lives, arts education becomes even more crucial,” said Ingenuity Executive Director Paul Sznewajs. “The artlook® Virtual Learning Library helps us ensure that the arts continue to connect, heal and strengthen students and school communities as we navigate this crisis.”

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