By JOSEPH PHILLIPS
After hosting a successful “14th Annual Silver Room Sound System Block Party,” Eric Williams, owner of the Silver Room, 1506 E. 53rd St., is now taking his talents to Massachusetts and will attend Harvard University Graduate School of Design on a fellowship in August.
The 2018 Loeb Fellowship offered to Williams, will consist of a year of independent study and will require him to live six months on campus at the prestigious institution from August to May.
During his fellowship, Williams will focus on strategies for replicating the Silver Room model nationally and methods for measuring the social and economic impact of arts entrepreneurship.
Their goal is to use the environment as a vehicle to achieve positive social outcomes.
“I was first introduced to it by Emmanuel Pratt, [director] of the Sweet Water Foundation Chicago,” Williams said about the fellowship opportunity. “He asked me to come out in the fall to talk about the work we do in the Silver Room and how we help shape the community through arts and culture.”
Williams will be a part of a select group of exceptional mid-career practitioners who will attend the university for their ability to help influence and build natural environments.
As founder of the Silver Room, Williams has influenced both the retail industry and the community as an art hub in the city.
“Arts and culture is a huge part of our world,” Williams said. “Neighborhoods are shaped by people who are seeking entertainment, seeking fun, seeking refuge, seeking conversation, seeking community and I think the store embodies all of that.”
Williams’ “Silver Room Sound System Block Party,” which attracts thousands of attendees each year, consists of positive and inspirational themes such as “Freedom, Love, Joy & Peace,” “We The People,” “We Come in Peace,” “Things That Matter” and “Look Up.”
In addition to the block party, Williams has collaborated with other small businesses and neighborhood institutions to produce events such as the CONNECT Hyde Park Arts Festival, the Harper Court Summer Music Series, and a Vintage Flea Market.