A Special Event for BGCC to Collaborate with the Art Institute of Chicago

The recent online collaboration between the Art Institute of Chicago and BGCC might never have been possible without Keana Ingram.

Keana (KJ) Ingram, the Club Director at BGCC’s Brunson Club, had been nurturing conversations with contacts at the iconic museum for months, hoping to book a collaborative Club event that would enrich the lives of her members. And while talks developed, nothing quite got off the ground. As unlikely as it might seem, the pandemic’s unique, socially distant circumstances perhaps offered the greatest opportunity—the chance for an online event.

Since the stay-at-home order began in March, Ingram had been facilitating Virtual Club programming for her members at the Brunson Club. And over the weeks, Ingram and her staff worked hard to establish an online connection with their Club members. It was a tricky process, where she and her staff experimented with youth development programming in the new digital-only setting. She and her staff tried engaging youth with different programming types, formats, cadences, and more. It really was uncharted territory, which was perhaps the perfect prompt for a bold, new idea.

One such idea was this online collaboration with the Art Institute of Chicago, which called for introducing members to art in which they might see themselves reflected or their experiences portrayed—art by local artists and artists of color.

"I wanted this event to be fun and relatable for our Club families," Ingram said. "We have many talented artists at our Club and I hoped they would encounter art that they would identify with."

Ingenuity. Dedication. An openness and a willingness to try new things to reach more members. This is the spirit of positive youth development that, with your support, we nurture in our Clubs—both physical and now virtual—and that we see embodied in inspirational Club leaders like Ingram.

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