WBEZ | Michelle Boone http://www.wbez.org/tags/michelle-boone Latest from WBEZ Chicago Public Radio en Chicago to house American Writers Museum http://www.wbez.org/news/chicago-house-american-writers-museum-113526 <p><div><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/Writers%20Museum.jpg" style="height: 338px; width: 620px;" title="The museum will include interactive displays and constantly changing exhibits, including an exhibit celebrating Chicago’s rich literary heritage. (Courtesy of the American Writers Museum)" /></div></div><div>At first glance, the authors Dr. Seuss and Kurt Vonnegut don&rsquo;t seem to have much in common.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>But soon, these two American writers and others like them will be on display at the American Writers Museum, the city&rsquo;s newest cultural institution on the Magnificent Mile.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>&ldquo;People are fascinated by writers,&rdquo; museum founder Malcolm O&rsquo;Hagan said. &ldquo;They want to see the people, they want to meet them, they want to understand how they do what they do.&rdquo;</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>The interactive museum, which has been in the works for a few years, is expected to open its doors at 180 North Michigan Avenue in March of 2017.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>&ldquo;It&rsquo;s especially significant that this institution is located in Chicago &mdash; home over the decades for so many great writers,&rdquo; Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle said.&nbsp;</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Several famous authors like Gwendolyn Brooks, Carl Sandburg and Ernest Hemingway, have connections to the city. In addition to Hemingway&rsquo;s house located in Oak Park, the museum says it&rsquo;s collaborating with 50 authors&rsquo; homes and museums around the U.S.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Alderman Ed Burke, an author himself, who has supported the effort for the last five years, estimates the museum will draw 120,000 visitors a year &mdash; a number O&rsquo;Hagan says is a &ldquo;conservative&rdquo; estimate.&nbsp;</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>So, where did the idea come from?</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>&ldquo;Well I&rsquo;m Irish,&rdquo; O&rsquo;Hagan said. &ldquo;There&rsquo;s a great writers museum in Dublin. One time when I came back and I wondered where the American counterpart is, and I was astounded to find out it didn&rsquo;t exist. So then I started thinking, well, maybe it should.&rdquo;&nbsp;</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>O&rsquo;Hagan said he hopes the museum will appeal not only to bookworms, but all readers.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>&ldquo;We have to be careful not to appeal just to the academics,&rdquo; O&rsquo;Hagan said, &ldquo;We don&rsquo;t want to be too high-brow or too low-brow because we want this to have broad appeal.&rdquo;</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>He added because there&rsquo;s such a long list of American writers and a limited amount of space, the museum will be constantly changing exhibits.&nbsp;</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>&ldquo;One of the challenges and one of the exciting things we have to deal with is the fact that we have such a richness in terms of the number of writers we could profile and present,&rdquo; O&rsquo;Hagan said.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Andy Anway with Amaze Design is creating the museum exhibits. He says the designers have to figure out how to make a writing museum relevant in a digital world.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>&ldquo;Most people think immediately of a library setting or something that&rsquo;s much more cerebral than you think of typically with a museum exhibition,&rdquo; Anway said. &ldquo;So one of the things we&rsquo;ve been really working on is trying to figure out a way to both present writing in a way that gets at the intimacy &hellip; which very much relates to your personal experience and reading, and also expresses the larger story about both individual authors and the context of writing.&rdquo;&nbsp;</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>For example, one of the interactive exhibits will be called, &ldquo;Are you a Bukowski or Vonnegut?&rdquo; in which visitors take a quiz to learn what writers they align with.&nbsp;</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Visitors will also be able to create their own stories after learning the writing techniques that make a &ldquo;master work.&rdquo;</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>The museum will include new media, newly emerging authors, author readings and educational programs.&nbsp;</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>The museum will be privately funded by donors. It also received grants from the National Endowment for the Humanities and the Chicago Community Trust. Museum officials say there&rsquo;s still about $5 million left to raise to reach their goal.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div><em>Meredith Francis is a WBEZ news intern. Follower her @MMLFrancis</em></div><div>&nbsp;</div></p> Tue, 27 Oct 2015 15:29:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/chicago-house-american-writers-museum-113526 Chicago wraps up the first set of meetings to map out the 2012 cultural plan http://www.wbez.org/blog/alison-cuddy/2012-02-22/chicago-wraps-first-set-meetings-map-out-2012-cultural-plan-96617 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//blog/photo/2012-February/2012-02-22/920819366_cf6df5e10f_z.jpg" alt="" /><p><p style="text-align: center;"><img alt="" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/blog/insert-image/2012-February/2012-02-22/920819366_cf6df5e10f_z.jpg" style="width: 500px;" title="Pilsen Mural (flickr/Atelier Teee)"></p><p>"If you can mandate these meetings, mandate some money!" That was one of many recommendations greeted with applause and hollers at a local meeting last night, held at the National Museum of Mexican Fine Art in Chicago's Pilsen neighborhood.</p><div class="inset"><div class="insetContent"><p><span style="font-size:10px;">Listen to Alison Cuddy on <em>Eight Forty-Eight</em></span></p><p><span class="filefield_audio_insert_player" href="/sites/default/files/848 120222 alison.mp3" id="filefield_audio_insert_player-126195" player="null">848 120222 alison.mp3</span></p></div></div><p>The meeting was convened by the City's Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events (DCASE) - it was the last of four town halls that have served to kick off <a href="http://www.wbez.org/blog/alison-cuddy/2012-02-15/chicago-seeks-public-input-2012-cultural-plan-96422">the department's 2012 Chicago Cultural Plan.</a></p><p>After introductory remarks from DCASE commissioner Michelle Boone and Orit Sarfaty, a consultant at Lord Cultural Resources (the Toronto-based firm hired by the City to help with the plan), it was the public's turn to get cracking.</p><p>Armed with notepads and pens, people broke into nine groups numbering about twelve to over 25 in size. They listed their experiences and expectations of culture in Chicago, and provided advice on how to get from "here to there" (there being the year 2030, a somewhat loose target date suggested by DCASE).</p><p>Then each group took to the mic to present their findings - here is the representative from Group 4:</p><p><span class="filefield_audio_insert_player" href="/sites/default/files/120221 Group 4 Presentation web.mp3" id="filefield_audio_insert_player-126174" player="null">120221 Group 4 Presentation web.mp3</span></p><p>The tape gives you a sense of the warmth, goodwill and energy that filled the room. The groups were definitely chatty, with no shortage of ideas and exchanges going on.&nbsp;</p><p>Other observations:</p><p>The gathering was very diverse. &nbsp;Lots of people of color and most age groups represented, including seniors and high school students. There were people from the neighborhood, artists of every stripe (especially the visual arts) and heads of arts organizations (including Marwen's Antonia Contro, who also serves on the City's Cultural Affairs Advisory Committee). As for politicos I was told Alderman Danny Solis was there, though I didn't spot him myself.</p><p>Ideas that got the most applause included funding for arts education, turning vacant buildings over to arts groups, and "organizing". Nearly every group emphasized working with business interests. And along with repeated calls to focus on arts at the neighborhood level, there were also recommendations to create more events on the scale of downtown extravaganzas like Lollapalooza and the Chicago International Film Festival.</p><p>As the meeting got underway I spoke with Commissioner Boone about her take on the process. I also asked her why they've embarked on this plan when she hasn't yet fully staffed her Department - you can listen to our exchange here:</p><p><span class="filefield_audio_insert_player" href="/sites/default/files/120221 Michelle Boone web.mp3" id="filefield_audio_insert_player-126175" player="null">120221 Michelle Boone web.mp3</span></p><p>But for me it all comes back to where we started - the recommendation to "mandate some money".&nbsp; Does the Department, still regrouping under Mayor Emmanuel, have the political support and financial backing needed to implement any of the ideas they'll gather?&nbsp;</p><p>Or is DCASE in effect going back to the drawing board, to make the case for culture as planners did in 1986, when the city's first big cultural plan was mapped out? Is the public process a way of once again building political capital for the merits of investing in Chicago's arts and culture scene?&nbsp;</p><p>That remains to be seen.&nbsp; Meanwhile the public will continue to weigh in - a sort of cultural version of "March Madness" will get underway on February 29th, with a month-long series of <a href="http://2012chicagoculturalplan.blogspot.com/2012/02/neighborhood-cultural-conversations.html">neighborhood conversations taking place throughout the city.&nbsp;</a></p></p> Wed, 22 Feb 2012 14:00:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/blog/alison-cuddy/2012-02-22/chicago-wraps-first-set-meetings-map-out-2012-cultural-plan-96617 The CityArts Program: an open letter to DCASE http://www.wbez.org/blog/onstagebackstage/2011-11-17/cityarts-program-open-letter-dcase-94126 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//blog/photo/2011-November/2011-11-17/Boone.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>Early last April, when Rahm Emanuel merely was Mayor-Elect, I used this blog space to <a href="http://www.wbez.org/blog/onstagebackstage/2011-04-12/rham-boeing-and-arts-modest-proposal-84952">send him an open letter</a> about the <a href="http://www.cityofchicago.org/city/en/depts/dca/provdrs/grants/svcs/city_arts_applicationsummary.html">CityArts Program</a>. I never heard back from him. I was disappointed because Rahm had recently cited a theater review by my colleague, Chris Jones, in the Tribune, and saw an Off-Loop play based on Jones’s favorable write-up. Since I am older than Chris and have a much-longer career as a journalist, I naturally assumed the Mayor-Elect would pay attention to me. After all, I am Chicago’s senior theater critic (true), but that and $4.35 will get you coffee at Starbucks.</p><p>I know, however, that members of the Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events (DCASE) have read my <a href="http://www.wbez.org/blog/onstagebackstage/2011-11-03/dcase-does-do-over-93712">last</a> <a href="http://www.wbez.org/blog/onstagebackstage/2011-11-08/dcase-do-over-part-ii-93799">two</a> blog posts here, which have been about the restructuring of DCASE now taking place. With that in mind, I’m revising my April Open Letter to Rahm as a memo to <a href="http://www.wbez.org/episode-segments/2011-07-19/citys-new-culture-czar-looks-future-89343">DCASE Commissioner Michelle T. Boone</a>. I hope you’re reading this, Commish.</p><p><img alt="" class="caption" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/blog/insert-image/2011-November/2011-11-17/Boone.jpg" style="margin-right: 10px; margin-top: 10px; margin-bottom: 10px; float: left; width: 280px; height: 195px; " title="(Courtesy of the City of Chicago)">MEMO TO MICHELLE BOONE</p><p>Over the years I've been an arts business reporter, one of my favorite annual stories has been the grants made to local cultural organizations through CityArts, initiated in 1979 through the Department of Cultural Affairs (now DCASE). CityArts doesn't give a lot of money to any one artist or entity, but it gives a modest amount of money to a great many, thereby spreading the City's largesse (alright, the taxpayers' largesse) far and wide to virtually every 'hood in town.</p><p>Grants are based on the budgetary size of the applicant in four tiers ranging from emerging arts organizations with annual cash income under $150,000, to institutions with annual income of $2 million and up. At Tier I, the current maximum grant request is $3,000, which can make a big difference to a little troupe operating on $50,000 a year. At Tier IV the maximum grant is $10,000, which makes virtually no difference at all to a museum or orchestra or theater with a budget of $15-$50 million a year. Still, it might fund an internship or three and it gives to the recipient the imprimatur of the City of Chicago.</p><p>CityArts is a joyful idea precisely BECAUSE there are far more small non-profit cultural organizations than large ones and far more grant recipients in the lower tiers than in the top tier, so for once most of the bucks are going to the little guys rather than the same old big guys. Even better, I’ve never heard a complaint that CityArts is unfair or clout-connected. Hey, $3,000 hardly is enough money to waste your clout on—if you have any clout. In short, the CityArts Program has been a model of how public money should be spent and how a city program should be administered.</p><p>Now, CityArts has NEVER been funded at more than $1 million a year since the program started. Still, in its best years, CityArts makes grants to several hundred organizations large and small covering arts education, choirs, dance, theater, instrumental ensembles, children’s' arts programs, museums, social service agency arts programs, concert series, film, TV, new media, etc., etc. As long as an organization has a cultural function, and meets application guidelines (including, for example, proof of liability insurance), it's eligible for a CityArts grant, and also can apply for a renewal of the grant in two successive years.</p><p>In this manner, CityArts has distributed thousands of grants totaling $22 million in 33 years. It's hardly a notch in the total outlays of the City of Chicago, but CityArts has had major impact. Even so, the diversity and basic fairness of this program have not protected it from budget cuts. Since the economy tanked four years ago, CityArts has been reduced by 50% and currently is funded at $500,000 a year.</p><p>But right now the Mayor and DCASE have an opportunity to engineer a major, vital and important retooling of CityArts. It is time to privatize the CityArts Program or, more accurately, to turn it into a significant public-private partnership. Let the City pledge $1 million annually to CityArts, which sum to be matched by a corporate sponsor in return for naming rights. Suddenly, CityArts would be quadrupled. The point would not be to increase the size of the CityArts grants (well, maybe a little) but to greatly increase the NUMBER of grants.</p><p>What say Chicago and the Boeing Company (for example) enter into a 10-year partnership to fund the CityArts Program? Boeing would have its name splashed on more programs and posters and websites and tweets and Facebook pages and press releases than it can count, and actually would be doing genuine good at an extremely modest cost on a city-wide basis, bringing arts and culture to every corner of town.</p><p>Even better, why not ask Boeing if they would make their matching grant upfront? The funds could be placed in an escrow account or trust that would earn sufficient interest to extend the life of the program: the Boeing CityArts Trust.</p><p>If not Boeing, there certainly are many other possible private partners from the financial, industrial and service sectors of the Chicago economy. Why not ask Donald Trump? What's he doing in Chicago besides collecting rent and paying reduced property taxes? &nbsp;What about the Harris Bank? Or Macy’s? Or the CBOE? What about Chicago Community Trust or the MacArthur Foundation? Would they partner on CityArts? How about a giant Chicago general contractor? Can you envision the Pepper Construction CityArts Trust?</p><p>Mayor Emanuel already has discussed both privatization (he’s done it with blue cart garbage pick-up) and the sale of advertising on public structures (such as bridges), so my proposal would seem to mesh with his economic ideas. Also, in 2012 DCASE expects to create a comprehensive cultural plan for Chicago, as Emanuel promised to do when running for mayor. It would be more than appropirate to include an expansion of CityArts as part of that plan.</p></p> Thu, 17 Nov 2011 13:53:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/blog/onstagebackstage/2011-11-17/cityarts-program-open-letter-dcase-94126 DCASE does a do-over http://www.wbez.org/blog/onstagebackstage/2011-11-03/dcase-does-do-over-93712 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//blog/photo/2011-November/2011-11-03/3242438084_4ee4275e63.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>Just a year after former Mayor Daley did a gut job on the Department of Cultural Affairs (DCA) over the strenuous objections of long-time Cultural Commish Lois Weisberg, the new mayor and his new Commish, Michelle T. Boone, are reversing those actions as much as they can.</p><p><img alt="" class="caption" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/blog/insert-image/2011-November/2011-11-03/3242438084_4ee4275e63.jpg" style="margin-right: 10px; margin-top: 10px; margin-bottom: 10px; float: left; width: 356px; height: 475px; " title="Preston Bradley Hall at the Chicago Cultural Center">As first <a href="http://www.wbez.org/story/gospel-fest-return-and-move-south-side-93552">reported last week by WBEZ's Lynette Kalsnes</a>, Commissioner Boone revealed in budget hearings that the 2012 plan for her department calls for taking back responsibilities for planning and day-to-day execution of cultural programs, which had been contracted out to the Chicago Office of Tourism (renamed the Chicago Office of Tourism and Culture in recognition of its expanded responsibilities).</p><p>What Boone and Mayor Rahm Emmanuel can’t do, or won’t do, is detach the Special Events function from the department, which has been called the Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events (DCASE) since last January in recognition of the forced merger of DCA with the Mayor’s Office of Special Events. It was that merger, dictated by Mayor Daley and rubber-stamped by the City Council without hearings or public scrutiny, which led to the dismissal of 30 DCA employees including the DCA’s program directors for theater, music and visual arts. They were replaced by the Special Events employees, all of whom were political hires reporting to the mayor. Safely ensconced within DCASE, their jobs are protected from political firings.</p><p>The work done by the dismissed DCA staff was taken up by the expanded Office of Tourism and Culture (OTC), which hired several of the dismissed DCA folks, their salaries covered by a service contract between, you guessed it, OTC and DCASE. In robbing Peter to pay Paul, Mayor Daley could claim he was saving money by reducing staff and merging agencies, but it all was smoke and mirrors.</p><p>In any case, the 2012 City of Chicago budget document notes that DCASE “plans to restructure its agreement with the Chicago Office of Tourism and Culture, returning critical functions to City management, including the cultural grants program, cultural performing arts programming in Millennium Park, the Chicago Cultural Center, and visual arts programs.”</p><p>DCASE will have $29.2 million to do it, down not quite 10% from $32.3 million in Fiscal 2011. That amount includes funding for six new positions, according to DCASE spokesperson Karen Vaughan. Even with six new hires, the total DCASE roster of full-time employees will be the same as last year, 79, which means there will be internal consolidation. Indeed, that’s the plan. We’re not sure how it will work, given their different agendas, but moving into 2012 the Department no longer will be split between a Bureau of Special Events and a Bureau of Cultural Affairs. Somehow, Commish Boone is gonna’ make a single entity out of the two bureaus, thereby freeing-up an additional 11 positions for new people with different job descriptions. Of the total of 17 new people, 14 will be in a new arts programming division, reports Vaughan.</p><p>Last year, the lion’s share of DCASE’s budget went to Special Events ($22.5 million) vs. Cultural Affairs ($12.3 million). [Yes, I know that’s more than the $32.3 million reported above for Fiscal 2011, but DCASE received $2.5 in grants in addition to its City appropriation.] Now, with only a single money pot, perhaps DCASE will find clever ways to blur distinctions between Special Events and Cultural Affairs, perhaps to the advantage of the latter.</p><p>According to Vaughan, the changes should be in place by January 1, or very shortly thereafter. The contract between DCASE and OTC was for 12 months.</p><p>The other major item of news coming out of the budget documents is the announcement that DCASE will “start the process of developing a new Cultural Plan for the City” which will “chart a roadmap for Chicago’s cultural and economic growth” in order to enhance “Chicago’s reputation as a destination for creativity, innovation, and the arts.” This fulfills a campaign pledge made by candidate Emmanuel and repeated by him as Mayor-Elect. Chicago’s last cultural plan was drawn up in 1985 under Mayor Harold Washington.</p></p> Thu, 03 Nov 2011 15:06:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/blog/onstagebackstage/2011-11-03/dcase-does-do-over-93712 Chicago leaders weigh in on the first 100 days of the Emanuel administration http://www.wbez.org/episode-segments/2011-08-26/chicago-leaders-weigh-first-100-days-emanuel-administration-91088 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//segment/photo/2011-August/2011-08-26/first100forum1.jpg" alt="" /><p><p><audio class="mejs mediaelement-formatter-identified-1332483666-1" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/sites/default/files/First 100 seg 2 of 2 mp3.mp3">&nbsp;</audio></p><p>In the second part of <a href="http://www.wbez.org/series/first-100-rahm-emanuels-first-100-days-chicago-mayor" target="_blank"><em>The First 100</em></a> community forum, <em>Eight Forty-Eight's</em> Alison Cuddy was joined by a panel of local leaders: Chicago Police Superintendent Garry McCarthy, <a href="http://www.transitchicago.com/" target="_blank">Chicago Transit Authority</a> president Forrest Claypool, City of Chicago comptroller <a href="http://www.cityofchicago.org/city/en/depts/fin/auto_generated/fin_leadership.html" target="_blank">Amer Ahmad</a> and Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events commissioner <a href="http://www.cityofchicago.org/city/en/depts/dca/auto_generated/dca_leadership.html" target="_blank">Michelle Boone</a>. Engaged local residents were invited to pose questions--online and in the flesh--to generate a dialogue centered around change within the city of Chicago.</p></p> Fri, 26 Aug 2011 15:07:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/episode-segments/2011-08-26/chicago-leaders-weigh-first-100-days-emanuel-administration-91088 City's new culture czar looks to the future http://www.wbez.org/episode-segments/2011-07-19/citys-new-culture-czar-looks-future-89343 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//segment/photo/2011-July/2011-07-19/Boone.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>On Monday nights throughout the summer, Millennium Park is covered in blankets, lawn chairs and various libations as people enjoy the latest <a href="http://explorechicago.org/city/en/things_see_do/event_landing/special_events/dca_tourism/downtown_sound__new.html" target="_blank"><em>Downtown Sound: New Music Mondays</em>.</a> The series is just one of many free musical events put on by Chicago’s <a href="http://www.cityofchicago.org/city/en/depts/dca.html" target="_blank">Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events.</a> With a new mayor some wondered if this level of cultural programming would remain a priority for the City, but when the annoucement of the new Department head was met with high praise many corners of Chicago’s art world - especially the jazz community. After all, Michelle Boone has years of experience in the arts, including directing the City’s <a href="http://www.explorechicago.org/city/en/supporting_narrative/attractions/dca_tourism/Public_Art/Chicago_Public_Art_Collection_Gallery_37.html/" target="_blank">Gallery 37</a> and making arts grants at The Joyce Foundation. Boone, who is presiding over a somewhat new department after Cultural Affairs and Special Events merged earlier this year, joined <em>Eight Forty-Eight</em> to discuss Chicago's cultural future.<br> <br> <em>Music Button: Rachel Ries, "Chicago" from the release Without a Bird (SoDak)</em></p></p> Tue, 19 Jul 2011 15:15:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/episode-segments/2011-07-19/citys-new-culture-czar-looks-future-89343