Local arts organization AMFM raises food deserts awareness, promotes local artists at North Lawndale festival

CHICAGO (WLS) -- Over the weekend, AMFM - an arts and social justice organization - raised awareness for Chicago food deserts and promoted local artists through its second annual FEAST festival in North Lawndale's Homan Square Park.

AMFM founder Ciera Mckissick partnered with community organizations who donated free food to the event, organized space for Chicago venders to promote their artwork, and recruited a lineup of local performers and bands.

"AMFM started because I wanted showcase different artists who were doing great work that I thought should be talked about," Mckissick said.

From 2016-2018, the organization had a brick-and-mortar location in Pilsen to host regular arts openings and performances. In a little under two years, however, they were forced to leave the space after some neighbors raised issues with the landlord.

"It was a really residential area, and we host a lot of events and a lot of people were coming through to the area. So I can see how that can be somewhat disruptive," Mckissick said.

"But also there was some underlying kind of racism between black and brown communities. And our work is really about trying to dispel those different things."

Many in the Pilsen community supported her work, but those who opposed it forced Mckissick to regroup before finding a new location.

Mckissick hopes that AMFM's next location is a full building with space for two studios, a performance venue, individual rooms for artists, and an enclosed outdoor space.

In the meantime, she will continue hosting pop-up events around the city. This fall, AMFM will start a weekly open mic session for North Lawndale teenagers. And on December 7, they will host a similar food justice festival in Humboldt Park.
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