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The Silver Room

The Silver Room (TSR) is an independent retail and community art space in Chicago. Established 20 years ago, The Silver Room has developed into a dynamic, multi-functional retail space and community hub that has served two prominent Chicago neighborhoods. Offering language and dance classes, financial and artist talks, the store educates and promotes wellness. The open mic storytelling series, Grown Folks Stories, started at TSR 10 years ago, developed an audience that has carried it on to performances across the city and to its new home at a permanent theatre space. The Silver Room serves as an incubator for artists and entrepreneurs of many practices.

The Silver Room Sound System Block Party developed with the intent to bring people together and promote neighboring businesses. What started as a quaint gathering of a few friends is now 16 years old and has grown to a capacity of 50, 000 people. This one-day celebration of culture features three concert stages, over 50 diverse musical acts, children's programming, pop-up roller-skating, a fashion show and more. The event generates $2 million dollars for its Southside community. Economic benefits are far reaching but are particularly meaningful for the small food and craft vendors who are traditionally priced out of brick & mortar retail spaces. Beyond the financial impact, TSRSSBP incorporates non-profit entities, promotes wellness, meets an underserved audience, and is programmed to meet all demographics of the community.

For those outside the community, seeing 50, 000 of Chicago’s Southside come together year after year for a peaceful celebration adds complexity to the traditional narrative of Southside violence. For those within the community, when they see the Block Party team that looks like them, closing off major streets for celebration, it lets future generations know what is possible and that they will build on what The Silver Room Block Party started.

Utilizing home-grown retail as a place of connection has made for a more integrated community that responds personally and quickly to community needs.