Chicago seeks public input for 2012 Cultural Plan

February 15, 2012

If you are a fan, creator or purveyor of arts and culture in Chicago (or even a neutral bystander) get thee to a series of public gatherings coming soon to a neighborhood near you.

The Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events (DCASE) tonight kicks off a series of community forums to collect ideas for the 2012 Chicago Cultural Plan.

Listen to Alison Cuddy and Michelle Boone on 848

The first (and only) Chicago Cultural Plan was crafted in the late 1980s, during the administration of then Mayor Harold Washington. Michael Dorf, the Director of the original plan, claims not only was it the first comprehensive cultural plan undertaken by a major city, it was also  "the first time any city had...used the tools of grassroots organization to do a cultural plan".

His group spent 18 months talking to "everyone" - across Chicago's neighborhoods, artistic disciplines, ethnic groups and major institutions, including the Archdiocese of Chicago and art museums. Now over 25 years later we have a new Mayor who has called for both a new Plan and new input from the public.

So, does your voice count? During the initial go-round Dorf clashed with Fred Fine, Chicago's first commissioner of cultural affairs (and former communist). Fine warned Dorf against "raising expectations." Dorf says he felt the opposite - that if Chicagoans "didn't get what they wanted I wanted them pounding on the doors [of the City] demanding it".

Well then, why wait? What do you demand to see included in Chicago's next Cultural Plan? For an inspirational kick in the pants check out suggestions from WBEZ theatre critic Jonathan Abarbanel and Fox Chicago's Bob Sirrott.

Leave your comments below, then join me and Eight Forty Eight host Tony Sarabia for a conversation with DCASE Commissioner Michelle Boone at 9 am. Conversating about the arts - great way to start the morning!