At Street Level, Urban Gatewaysâ€™ multimedia center, young people ages 13-24 are encouraged to make their art, express their ideas, and tell their stories through multimedia art forms. Street Level programs promote self-expression, communication, and social change.
In 1991, artist IÃ±igo Manglano-Ovalle wondered what would happen if young people documented the world as they saw it, and he initiated a media arts project in his West Town neighborhood as part of a public art program aimed at expressing the concerns of Chicago communities. This installation of 75 monitors was presented at a block party and brought to light issues that played out dailyâ€”from gangs to gentrificationâ€”as it engaged residents and informed fellow Chicagoans.
In 1995, the success of this project inspired the formation of Street-Level Youth Media, one of the countryâ€™s first nonprofits to offer technology access and media arts training to urban youth. Three years later the organization won the inauguralÂ Coming Up Taller AwardÂ from President Clintonâ€™s Committee for Arts and the Humanities for its innovative approach to arts education.
In January 2017, Street Level (later renamed from Street-Level Youth Media) officially became a part of Urban Gateways. Urban Gateways engages young people in arts experiences to inspire creativity and impact social change. VisitÂ urbangateways.orgÂ andÂ street-level.orgÂ to learn more.
Today, Street Level remains committed to engaging young people in creative self-expression and critical thinking through media arts programming. Programs now include video production, audio and music production, stop-motion animation, digital photography, graphic arts, and new media. Street Level instructors continue to lead classes and workshops in West Town, now at Street Levelâ€™s multimedia center at 1637 North Ashland Avenue, and at partnering schools and community-based organizations throughout Chicago.