FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                                                            Date:  November 16, 2001

Contact: Hilary Anne Frost-Kumpf (217) 206-7373

UIS to present program on cultural activism in community preservation

Chicago-based cultural activist Steve Balkin will give a multi-media presentation on “Cultural Activism in a Contested Urban Space: The Case of the Maxwell Street Market” beginning at 7 p.m. Thursday, November 29, in Lincoln Residence Hall on campus at the University of Illinois at Springfield.  Accompanying Balkin will be blues guitarists Jimmie Lee Robinson and Frank “Little Sonny” Scott, who will perform Robinson’s “Maxwell Street Tear Down Blues.” The event is free and open to the public.

A video and slides about Chicago’s historic Maxwell Street neighborhood and efforts to save it from destruction by developers will serve as a backdrop for the program.

The Maxwell Street neighborhood has long been an important site of working class life and African American cultural achievement, including a once-thriving blues scene that has featured such notable musicians as Little Walter, Otis Rush, and Robert Nighthawk.

Balkin, a professor of economics in the School of Policy Studies at Roosevelt University in Chicago, is also vice president of the Maxwell Street Historic Preservation Coalition. He will describe the neighborhood and the efforts to preserve its buildings and character from encroaching development by the city of Chicago and the University of Illinois at Chicago campus.

Both Robinson and Scott are also long-time activists in the struggle to save Maxwell Street. Called the “Picasso of the Blues,” Robinson has lived most of his life in the area and has played the Chicago club scene since the 1940s.  Scott was a developer of the Maxwell Street Juketown Community Bandstand.

This event is being sponsored by the Community Arts Management concentration of UIS’ Master of Public Administration program, in conjunction with the Liberal Studies Colloquia course “Surrealist Subversion.”  The CAM graduate concentration explores how the social, economic, and political factors of a community influence the development of the arts and looks at the important role the arts can play in the education, development, and revitalization of communities.

Other support is being provided by the UIS Speakers Fund and the CAM Program Fund.

For more information, contact Hilary Anne Frost-Kumpf, assistant professor of Public Administration, at (217) 206-7373.