Pop Up Art Loop: a business-led project

The goal for the Pop Up Art Loop project, spearheaded by the Chicago Loop Alliance, was to rent out the vacant store fronts, so the art was 'window dressing', providing colour, movement and energy. Their priorities was to increase foot traffic and for the storefronts to look attractive to encourage commercial tenants.

During their first phase the project worked with individual artists to develop exhibitions but in later phases they have tended to partner with organisations to co-produce exhibitions, including the Chicago Artist Coalition, the Chicago Photography Collective, and the School of the Art Institute in Chicago which has a campus in the Loop area. 

Involving art students

“Art students often don’t get exhibition opportunities beyond their campus, but with the Pop Up Art Loop they can get involved in curating and hanging the show and being involved in all aspects of the administration of the project,” says Lauren. “It’s really good experience for students, not only for the administrative experience but also for exhibiting their work to a broader public."

In May 2011 the Bachelor of Fine Arts and Master of Fine Arts program shows for the Art Institute were in empty store fronts, tripling the size of the usual gallery space for their student work.

Benefits of a business-led approach

According to Lauren, one of the main benefits of a business-led pop up project is that the Chamber of Commerce can more easily access empty spaces and convince business owners to become involved and develop the space.

“I think across the board it’s difficult to convince landlords to give up their space for free or to lease it out for less rent but a Chamber of Commerce is in a really good position to tell landlords about all the benefits, make sure they understand the opportunity and get them excited about it,” she says.