Continuing the mini-PR campaign to underscore his connection to the arts in Chicago, mayor-elect Rahm Emanuel followed up his visit to talk (a little bit) about music with WXRT with a more substantial one-on-one interview with Chicago Tribune theater critic Chris Jones.
Once again, Emanuel mentions the idea of an Uptown Music District, a splendid idea in anyone’s book, given the already thriving Green Mill, Aragon Ballroom, and Riviera Theatre in that neighborhood. But the mayor-elect has offered no specifics of his vision: Is he talking about bolstering local promoters Jam Productions, who own the Riv and book most shows at the Aragon, in their efforts to raise the money to renovate the Uptown Theatre?
Or is Emanuel talking about bringing in another promoter… like, say, Live Nation Entertainment, the company his brother serves as a member of its board of directors? Conspiracy theory? Hardly. Live Nation fought a brutal court battle with Jam several years ago over ownership of the Uptown—a case in which the monopolistic giant was, ironically, represented by Gery Chico—and it long has wanted to challenge Jam with a midsize venue in that area.
Jones does not ask any of the most important music-centric questions of concern to this blog and enumerated in its previous posts about Emanuel, but he does garner a few other interesting nuggets, including this one:
“[Emanuel] also spoke of his newly formed arts task force, coordinated by his longtime friend Marj Halperin, the former executive director of the League of Chicago Theatres and now a management and communications consultant, on whom Emanuel said he has relied a great deal when it comes to cultural matters.”
Is this a tip-off that Halperin could be named “the new Lois Weisberg” as head of the now-merged Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events? And what the heck is this “newly formed arts task force?” Who else is on it?
As far as I can tell, there have been no other mentions of it by any reporters on the Emanuel beat. And, as with many other questions, I am awaiting comment from Emanuel's transition office.