The Kehrein Center for the Arts Foundation Names Vanessa Stokes Interim Executive Director

West Side resident and leader has spent the last 14 years building links among community residents, businesses and organizations.

Chicago, IL – February 14, 2022: The Kehrein Center for the Arts is thrilled to welcome Ms.


Vanessa Stokes as its interim executive director to carry on the Center’s vision to be a beacon of opportunity, a leader in arts and culture, and a bridge across diverse communities.


Vanessa has worked tirelessly to create synergy and cooperation among various artistic bodies on the West Side to increase art appreciation and allow artists to live comfortably off their creative efforts.


Vanessa manages Special Service Area 72, a program connected with Chicago’s Department of Planning and designed to improve the Chicago Avenue business corridor. She also collaborates with local artists and community members to create the future of art and public art on the West Side of Chicago. She is co-president of the Austin Town Hall Park Advisory Council and chair of the Austin Town Hall Park Art & Culture Committee. Vanessa volunteers on The Hatchery Community Advisory Committee, Advisory Circle at the Oak Park River Forest Community Foundation, and the Westside Cluster Lead for the One Earth Film Festival; and is a board member of A House in Austin. She also works with the I Am Community Project, Honey Pot Performance, and the Austin African American Business Networking Association (AAABNA).

In 2020 at the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, Vanessa’s agency, VS Creative Consulting, conceptualized and spearheaded the creation of the first Pop Courts on the West Side, an open-air community space designed to foster interaction and further small business creation in what was previously an abandoned lot. Pop Courts has now become the outdoor venue of choice for community events, with the model being studied for replication in other communities.


Bringing together Vanessa's rich history in the community and the Kehrein Center’s rich history in the community is an unparalleled opportunity for synergy and growth of this new space in Austin. The Kehrein Center for the Arts welcomes Vanessa. Our excitement and anticipation of the goodness that will come from having Vanessa at the helm is a reflection of the new life and energy being born today in the Austin neighborhood.


About the Kehrein Center for the Arts:

Located in Chicago’s Austin neighborhood, the Kehrein Center for the Arts is the product of a years-long effort to restore an architecturally-significant but unused auditorium into a vibrant fine and performing arts center, complete with a 850-seat storytelling theater, art gallery, and community gathering place—one of the few major projects to occur on Chicago’s West Side since the 1960’s.


KCA’s vision is to be a beacon of opportunity, a leader in arts and culture, and a bridge across diverse communities. We do this by initiating relevant programming in the arts, facilitate critical conversations in the Austin community, and steward the KCA facilities as a community-based arts and entertainment venue.