Mayor Richard M. Daley

Gallery 37

Program Narrative

Gallery 37 is the City of Chicago’s award-winning job training program in the arts that provides young people ages 14-21 with on-the-job training in visual, literary, and performing arts. The youth apprentice artists earn a paycheck while working part-time with professional lead artists in the creation of artwork and performance.

Gallery 37 hires approximately 300 professional artists each year, both directly and through its partnerships with local arts and teaching organizations. The mentoring hierarchy includes two levels: Lead artists and teaching assistants. The teaching assistants are emerging artists themselves. This two-tiered system enables Gallery 37 to maintain a low instructor-to-student ratio, which ensures substantial contact between professional artists and apprentices, and creates opportunities for meaningful relationships.

History & Objectives

Initially conceived in 1991 by the Department of Cultural Affairs Commissioner Lois Weisberg and Maggie Daley, Chicago’s First Lady, Gallery 37 operates as a program of the City of Chicago and The Arts Matter Foundation to address and serve the needs of the city, its youth, and its artists. Its mission is to provide meaningful employment and training in the arts to Chicago’s youth, without regard to gender, race, family income level or physical ability; to create a mentoring program between youth and established artists; to increase public awareness of the importance of the arts and of arts education and to foster cultural awareness.

Gallery 37 was conceived as a way to help prepare youth for the workforce, while simultaneously addressing the decline in arts education in schools. The program began in the summer of 1991 by employing 260 apprentice artists for six weeks. It has grown to providing 4,000 employment positions in four programs that operate year-round. The Downtown Program employs young people from every neighborhood in Chicago at central sites in the Loop. The Schools Program offers after-school and summer job training in the arts in 35 Chicago Public High Schools. The Neighborhoods Program provides summer job training at more than 40 Park Districts and community organizations throughout the city. The Connections Program is a pre-employment program in which middle school students, many of whom have physical or cognitive special needs, study with professional artists. Apprentice artists in these four programs work in disciplines such as mural painting, textile design, creative writing, stone sculpture, multicultural dance, and jazz band. Their artwork is performed, published, exhibited publicly and sold at the Gallery 37 Retail Store.

All Gallery 37 programs are designed to ensure the integration of the skills identified by the Secretary’s Commission on Achieving Necessary Skills (SCANS), published by the U.S. Department of Labor. These skills are essential not only to arts-related careers, but to any future workplace. Gallery 37 utilizes the arts as an arena in which such skills can be developed. Gallery 37 is designed to provide a professional work environment in which participants learn to work at a high standard and gain an appreciation for excellence.

Programs & City-Wide Initiatives

Mayor Richard M. Daley has identified Gallery 37 as one of his administration’s most successful program and policy initiatives. Gallery 37 is administered by the Chicago Department of Cultural Affairs under the direction of Commissioner Lois Weisberg, in cooperation with The Arts Matter Foundation, chaired by Maggie Daley. Gallery 37 artwork is showcased on two floors of the Mayor’s offices in City Hall and the Mayor proudly presents visiting dignitaries with products of Gallery 37. Through its partnership with the City departments and agencies, Gallery 37 coordinates a variety of activities and services related to the successful implementation and operation of its entire program. Gallery 37 depends upon partnerships established with a wide range of city agencies to manage these logistics. For example, the Department of Streets and Sanitation provide cleanup and maintenance services and the Department of Finance advises and purchases necessary insurance for Gallery 37 operations. In all, over 18 city departments and agencies support Gallery 37.


Gallery 37 relies on government sources for a significant portion of its funding. Because Gallery 37's mission includes both arts and job training, it is eligible for government funds in both of these areas. Gallery 37 has received grants from the National Endowment for the Arts and from Illinois Arts Council. Gallery 37's most important federal funding source is the Job Training Partnership Act (JTPA), which distributes funds from the U.S. Department of Labor through a state agency to a local service delivery area which both provides policy oversight through a local private industry council (PIC) and administers job training programs. Gallery 37 receives its JTPA funds locally through the Mayor’s Office of Workforce Development. These programs are designated for youth ages 14-21 from families with annual incomes below the poverty level.

Private sources supplement government funding through a unique series of partnerships with corporate, foundation, and individual monetary and in-kind contributions. The program could not operate without this vital support which is received through its Arts Matter Foundation, a 501 (c) (3) organization. For Gallery 37, private sources supplement government funding by paying the minimum wage salaries of those apprentice artists whose families do not meet eligibility guidelines for federal funding. In addition, private funds supplement the federal source of salaries for teaching artists and purchasing supplies and materials that are excluded for coverage in government funding guidelines.


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The United States Conference of Mayors

J. Thomas Cochran, Executive Director
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