Skip to contents
Hyde Park, Woodlawn, South Shore

Tuition-Free Classes In Painting, Photography And More Coming To Hyde Park Art Center

The arts hub's core classes are moving to a pay-what-you-can model thanks to a nearly $14 million fundraising haul.

Student artists paint a model during a course at the Hyde Park Art Center's Oakman Clinton School and Studios.
Hyde Park Art Center
  • Credibility:

HYDE PARK — Artists of all ages will soon be able to boost their skills and become a part of the South Side’s creative community without paying a set tuition rate through the Hyde Park Art Center.

Core classes at the center’s Oakman Clinton School and Studios — including courses in ceramics, printmaking, painting and drawing, photography, textiles and multimedia arts — will move to a pay-what-you-can model in the spring.

Registration for tuition-free courses at the center, 5020 S. Cornell Ave., opens in March. Some “specialty” courses, which makes up about one-third of the center’s offerings, will remain tuition-based.

The payment model allows beginning artists and working professionals alike the chance to participate “regardless of economic circumstance,” Executive Director Kate Lorenz said.

“We have seen folks come to try something for the first time, and then ultimately begin to identify as artists and get hooked,” Lorenz said. The new payment model is “about making that available much more widely.”

Adult classes previously cost about $300 on average for a 10-week course, with youth classes running about $200. Those rates are on par with programs at similar arts institutions, but “needless to say, it’s cost-prohibitive for many households,” Lorenz said.

The Hyde Park Art Center’s recent fundraising haul of $13.8 million made the tuition-free model possible.

Those funds will also support the center’s Pathways youth initiative, which offers in-school art education to about 700 kids in kindergarten through eighth grade. The program embeds teaching artists in the following South Side schools:

  • Kozminski Community Academy in Hyde Park.
  • Beulah Shoesmith Elementary School in Kenwood.
  • Jackie Robinson Elementary School in North Kenwood.
  • Carter G. Woodson South Elementary School in Grand Boulevard.
  • Lenart Elementary Gifted Center and McDade Classical School in Chatham.

About 150 high school students also participate in programs on the Hyde Park Art Center’s campus.

By removing tuition requirements for core classes, the center aims to encourage families of young artists already involved with the center to develop their creativity, Lorenz said.

“As we found ourselves planning … we heard that our programs are making an impact: Teens are developing their voices, artists are tackling bold and ambitious projects and families are finding a creative home,” board Chair Justine Jentes said in a statement. “We also heard that we can do more, and the campaign is allowing us to do so.”

The fundraising campaign will support the center’s general operations, as well as establish an endowment — a chunk of money set aside to earn interest, which can be spent on programs.

The center’s goal is to raise another $2.2 million through the campaign, for a total of $16 million. To donate, click here.

The move to a primarily tuition-free model is a “huge shift for us, and has been a number of years in the making,” Lorenz said.

“We don’t know of another visual art center that has made this move” to offer pay-what-you-can classes, Lorenz said. “We think it’s kind of exciting to be able to put something out in the world and see how it might inspire others.”

Credit: Hyde Park Art Center
Student artists work in the studio at the Hyde Park Art Center.

Subscribe to Block Club Chicago, an independent, 501(c)(3), journalist-run newsroom. Every dime we make funds reporting from Chicago’s neighborhoods.

Click here to support Block Club with a tax-deductible donation. 

Thanks for subscribing to Block Club Chicago, an independent, 501(c)(3), journalist-run newsroom. Every dime we make funds reporting from Chicago’s neighborhoods. Click here to support Block Club with a tax-deductible donation.

Listen to “It’s All Good: A Block Club Chicago Podcast” here: