Waukegan Arts Council board member, Claudia Freeman received the 2013 Illinois Parks and Recreation Community Impact Award at the Illinois Association of Park Districts and Illinois Parks and Recreation Association’s Soaring to New Heights Conference Awards Luncheon on Friday, January 25, 2013.
Ms. Freeman, a parks and recreation professional with more than 30 years experience, positions arts and culture as a strategy for community and economic development with high impact results. As the Superintendent of Cultural Arts, she leveraged grants, sponsorships, and partnerships to offer a range of programs for little or no cost. Summer Arts in the Parks, an outgrowth of work on the Chicago Wilderness’ “No Child Left Inside” initiative, moved programs combining play, art and culture outdoors into neighborhood parks. Examples are: Summer H*E*A*T*, a weekly 30-minute family program that exposes hundreds of children to History, Earth, Arts or Tales and ArtsPark, an art program that travels to neighborhood parks, with attendance at one site of more than 40 children this past summer. Summer Arts in the Parks, fully sponsored, won the prestigious 2012 National Recreation and Park Association Dorothy Mullen Arts and Humanities Award. The Cultural Arts Division fosters arts startups and partners with local education entities. Successful examples include Acts to Follow, Academia Cultural Xilotl, the Highly Improvables and cooperative performances with the North Chicago Center for the Arts. Claudia actively promotes local artists, arts organizations, and collaborative projects and is a founding member of the new Waukegan Arts Council and chair of its education committee. She served as a member of the Chicago Metropolitan Agency for Planning (CMAP) 2040 Task Force for Cultural Vitality Index in 2011 and in 2012, the Cultural Engagement Working Committee. She serves as the Waukegan Park District liaison to the Waukegan Historical Society and Waukegan Harbor Citizens’ Advisory Group. Over the past several years, Freeman has worked as a panelist for the adjudication of Illinois Arts Council Multidisciplinary Grants. Under her leadership, the Cultural Arts Division was the winner of the 2011 Illinois Association of Park Districts’ Arts in the Park Award.
The Illinois Parks and Recreation Community Impact Award is presented to a current Illinois park and recreation professional who has made a significant impact in the community they serve. According to judges, “They somehow balance family, career, volunteerism and several other outside activities while continuing to achieve their professional mission.” This award recognizes Claudia Freeman’s significant impact on the community of Waukegan and her continued effectiveness and leadership as a parks and recreation professional.