WBEZ | DCASE http://www.wbez.org/tags/dcase Latest from WBEZ Chicago Public Radio en Weekender passes YOU the torch - Chicago culture! http://www.wbez.org/blogs/alison-cuddy/2012-07/weekender-passes-you-torch-chicago-culture-101203 <p><p><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/RS6072_3973963389_04942e5fcd_z.jpg" style="height: 480px; width: 640px; border-width: 1px; border-style: solid; margin: 10px; " title="2016 Olympics bid announcement, Daley Plaza (flickr/I Bird 2)" />This week and next, Chicagoans get another chance to help plan the city&rsquo;s cultural future. After<a href="http://www.wbez.org/blogs/alison-cuddy/2012-07/chicago-drafts-new-cultural-plan-100914"> recently releasing a draft version of Chicago&rsquo;s first cultural plan since 1986</a>, the Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events (DCASE) kicked off four town halls at locations around the city.<br /><br />The plan&rsquo;s gotten some criticism, mainly that it&rsquo;s more laundry list than a tangible set of priorities, with concrete timelines and budgets. But it&rsquo;s also been praised, including by National Endowment for the Arts Chairman Rocco Landesman. On a recent trip to Chicago, he called the plan &ldquo;visionary,&rdquo; saying it should be brought to &ldquo;a hundred different cities in America.&rdquo; Landesman also cited another way in which Chicago&rsquo;s a model. Referencing the plan&rsquo;s proposals to find funds for culture through public-private partnerships and from other government departments, Landesman made it clear that&rsquo;s also the task before the NEA.<br /><br />Some of that inter-governmental cooperation is already playing out locally. At the event with Chairman Landesman, DCASE presented its cultural plan. Then staff from the Chicago Department of Transportation (CDOT), the Chicago Transit Authority (CTA), and the Mayor&rsquo;s deputy chief of staff for education talked about ways they could take a piece of various proposals in the plan, through either ongoing or new initiatives in their departments.<br /><br />The message seemed clear - culture is on the agenda of many departments and DCASE is no longer sitting alone in the corner by itself, as was the case at the last city budget hearings, when only a small number of alderman bothered to sit through the DCASE presentation. It also seems significant that the CTA is now hiring art curators, including Elizabeth Kelley who, until recently, was in charge of exhibits and public art at the city.<br /><br />But the message wasn&rsquo;t so much about the power of culture as the power of departmental bottom lines. Gabe Klein talked about CDOT&rsquo;s much bigger budget ($600-800 million compared to DCASE&rsquo;s $30 million), money which could fund cultural programming, whether restoring Chicago&rsquo;s small neighborhood plazas, or in the case of the CTA, incorporating mural projects into CTA station upgrades.<br /><br />Of course intergovernmental largesse means art must be of service, by beautifying the city&rsquo;s streets, or ramping up hotel occupancy rates and tourism levels. And what&rsquo;s wrong with that? Think of the Works Progress Administration, which wove artistic expression into major infrastructure projects. Plus, if you disperse artistic production across departments, maybe you make the arts a bit more impervious to political threats, like the so-called &ldquo;Culture Wars&rdquo; that, among other things, led to the slashing of the NEA&rsquo;s funding in 1996. Or more recently and closer to home, the &ldquo;Cultural Affairs&rdquo; war, when then-Mayor Daley essentially gutted the department that was supposedly a hallmark of his administration&rsquo;s commitment to culture.<br /><br />The NEA&rsquo;s current appropriation is much closer to its high water mark in 1992, and DCASE shows some signs of rebuilding. But our civic commitment to direct, public funding of arts and culture has been deeply diminished. Art now has to work hard for its money. Perhaps we&rsquo;ve always argued that a good play can help reduce violence, but it feels now more than ever that the show only goes on if that case is both bought and sold.<br /><br />If you want to make the case for the value of art and art alone, be sure to attend the next cultural town halls &ndash; there&rsquo;s one Saturday morning on the North Side, at the former Essenay Studios. And the final meeting is Tuesday night, at the Cultural Center. The meeting I attended this past Tuesday at Malcolm X College made it clear there is lots of passion &ndash; and confusion &ndash; around the laundry list of initiatives, on the part of both organizers and participants. Tell the powers that be what you want &ndash; but also make them commit to a coherent plan for culture.</p><p>&nbsp;</p><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/schaumburg-boomers-logo1.jpg" style="height: 185px; width: 239px; border-width: 1px; border-style: solid; margin: 10px; float: left;" title="" /></div><p><a href="http://www.boomersbaseball.com/"><span style="font-size:16px;"><strong>1. Schaumburg Boomers</strong></span></a></p><p>Friday 6:30 p.m.</p><p>You really can be center field at a Frontier League game.</p><p><a href="http://www.boomersbaseball.com/stadium/default/">Boomers Stadium</a></p><p>1999 Springinsguth Road</p><p>Schaumburg, IL</p><p>&nbsp;</p><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/baseball_12_landing.jpg" style="height: 167px; width: 240px; border-width: 1px; border-style: solid; margin: 10px; float: left;" title="" /><a href="http://www.blockmuseum.northwestern.edu/view/cinema/rare-baseball-films-the-newsreels.html"><span style="font-size:16px;"><strong>2. Rare Baseball Films: The Newsreels</strong></span></a></div><div class="image-insert-image ">&nbsp;</div><div class="image-insert-image ">Friday 7:30 p.m.</div><div class="image-insert-image ">&nbsp;</div><div class="image-insert-image ">From Stan Musial&#39;s 3000th to Jackie Robinson at home, some of the people and moments from classic baseball.</div><div class="image-insert-image ">&nbsp;</div><div class="image-insert-image "><a href="http://www.blockmuseum.northwestern.edu/view/cinema/index.html">Block Cinema</a></div><div class="image-insert-image ">&nbsp;</div><div class="image-insert-image ">40 Arts Circle Drive&nbsp;&nbsp; Evanston, IL</div><div class="image-insert-image ">&nbsp;</div><div class="image-insert-image ">&nbsp;</div><div class="image-insert-image ">&nbsp;</div><div class="image-insert-image "><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/triple%20crown.jpg" style="width: 240px; height: 180px; border-width: 1px; border-style: solid; margin: 10px; float: left;" title="" /></div></div><p><a href="http://triplecrownyoyo.com/2012/"><span style="font-size:16px;"><strong>3. Triple Crown of YoYo</strong></span></a></p><p>Saturday 10 a.m. - 4 p.m.</p><p>Slingers with strings - watch out! &nbsp;They&#39;ll compete in single, double, and aerial yo yo divisions.</p><p><a href="http://explorechicago.org/city/en/millennium.html">Millennium Park</a></p><p>&nbsp;</p><p>&nbsp;</p><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/2012_2_17_cultural_plan-thumb-640xauto-694744.png" style="width: 240px; height: 180px; border-width: 1px; border-style: solid; margin: 10px; float: left;" title="" /><a href="http://www.chicagoculturalplan2012.com/#587/custom_plain"><span style="font-size:16px;"><strong>4. Chicago Cultural Plan Town Hall</strong></span></a></div><div class="image-insert-image ">&nbsp;</div><div class="image-insert-image ">Saturday 10 a.m. - Noon</div><div class="image-insert-image ">&nbsp;</div><div class="image-insert-image ">What&#39;s a weekend without a little civic engagement?</div><div class="image-insert-image ">&nbsp;</div><div class="image-insert-image "><a href="http://www.staugustine.edu/">St. Augustine College</a> - <a href="http://www.staugustine.edu/index.php?src=gendocs&amp;ref=ESSANAY_Studios">Essanay Studios</a></div><div class="image-insert-image ">&nbsp;</div><div class="image-insert-image ">1345 W. Argyle Street</div><div class="image-insert-image ">&nbsp;</div><div class="image-insert-image ">&nbsp;</div><div class="image-insert-image ">&nbsp;</div><div class="image-insert-image "><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/the-budos-band-photo.jpg" style="height: 152px; width: 240px; border-width: 1px; border-style: solid; margin: 10px; float: left;" title="" /></div></div><p><span style="font-size:16px;"><strong><a href="http://www.thebudos.com/">5. The Budos Band</a></strong></span></p><p>Saturday 10:30 p.m. at <a href="http://subt.net/concerts/5580/0728-the-budos-band/">Subterranean</a></p><p>The gang from Staten Island adds a little Black Sabbath to the mix!</p><p>2011 W. North Avenue</p><p>Sunday 8:30 p.m. at <a href="http://wickerparkfest.com/">Wicker Park Fest</a></p><p>&nbsp;</p><div class="image-insert-image "><p>&nbsp;</p><p>Click&nbsp;<a href="http://itunes.apple.com/podcast/weekender/id469524810" target="_blank">here</a>&nbsp;to subscribe to the&nbsp;<em>Weekender</em>&nbsp;podcast.</p><div>Got any hot weekend tips? Let us know below or email weekender@wbez.org</div></div><p>&nbsp;</p></p> Fri, 27 Jul 2012 05:00:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/blogs/alison-cuddy/2012-07/weekender-passes-you-torch-chicago-culture-101203 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 Chicago seeks public input for 2012 Cultural Plan http://www.wbez.org/blog/alison-cuddy/2012-02-15/chicago-seeks-public-input-2012-cultural-plan-96422 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/blog/photo/2012-February/2012-02-15/cultural plan 4.jpg" alt="" /><p><p style="text-align: center;"><img alt="" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/blog/insert-image/2012-February/2012-02-15/cultural plan 4.jpg" style="width: 600px; height: 400px; " title="Millennium Park (Photo by Joshua Mellin)"></p><p>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.<br> <br> <a href="http://www.cityofchicago.org/city/en/depts/dca.html">The Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events </a>(DCASE) tonight kicks off a series of community forums to collect ideas for the <a href="http://www.chicagoculturalplan2012.com/">2012 Chicago Cultural Plan.</a></p><div class="inset"><p><span style="font-size:10px;">Listen to Alison Cuddy and Michelle Boone on <em>848</em></span></p><p><audio class="mejs mediaelement-formatter-identified-1332734843-1" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/sites/default/files/848 120215 culture plan.mp3">&nbsp;</audio></p></div><p>The first (and only) Chicago Cultural Plan was crafted in the late 1980s, during the administration of then Mayor Harold Washington. <a href="http://www.adlmb.com/site/epage/57776_706.htm">Michael Dorf</a>, the Director of the original plan, claims not only was it the first comprehensive cultural plan undertaken by a major city, it was also&nbsp; "the first time any city had...used the tools of grassroots organization to do a cultural plan".<br> <br> 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.<br> <br> So, does your voice count? During the initial go-round Dorf clashed with Fred Fine, Chicago's first commissioner of cultural affairs (and <a href="http://web3.colum.edu/press_releases/archives/005284.php">former communist</a>). Fine warned Dorf against "raising expectations." Dorf says he felt the opposite - that if Chicagoans "didn't get what <em>they</em> wanted I wanted them pounding on the doors [of the City] demanding it".<br> <br> 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 <a href="http://www.wbez.org/blog/onstagebackstage/2011-11-17/cityarts-program-open-letter-dcase-94126">Jonathan Abarbanel</a> and <a href="http://www.myfoxchicago.com/dpp/news/opinion/bob-sirott-one-more-thing-chicago-cultural-plan-chess-records-20120208">Fox Chicago's Bob Sirrott</a>.<br> <br> Leave your comments below, then join me and <em>Eight Forty Eight</em> host Tony Sarabia for a conversation with DCASE Commissioner Michelle Boone at 9 am. Conversating about the arts - great way to start the morning!</p></p> Wed, 15 Feb 2012 13:59:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/blog/alison-cuddy/2012-02-15/chicago-seeks-public-input-2012-cultural-plan-96422 "Community conversations" to impact City cultural plan http://www.wbez.org/blog/onstagebackstage/2011-11-23/community-conversations-impact-city-cultural-plan-94329 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/blog/photo/2011-November/2011-11-23/Pritzker Pavillion at Night_Flickr_Eric Morner.jpg" alt="" /><p><p style="text-align: center;"><img alt="" class="caption" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/blog/insert-image/2011-November/2011-11-23/Pritzker Pavillion at Night_Flickr_Eric Morner.jpg" style="width: 500px; height: 372px;" title=""></p><p>The Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events (DCASE) will conduct “many community conversations” in early 2012 as the department begins the process of crafting a long-term, comprehensive cultural plan for the City of Chicago.</p><p>So writes DCASE Commissioner Michelle T. Boone in a personal reply to my blog post last week about the Department’s CityArts (sic) program. She points out that CityArts itself is a continuing legacy of the first (and only, so far) cultural plan drafted by the City back when Cultural Affairs was a brand-new department under Mayor Harold Washington. The new cultural plan, which DCASE expects to unveil by May, fulfills a campaign pledge of arts-savvy Mayor Rahm Emanuel.</p><p>Commissioner Boone goes on to say that when she accepted her DCASE appointment, CityArts “was one of the programs that most excited me,” calling it a program of “vital importance to the arts and culture community in Chicago.”</p><p>Ms. Boone speaks directly to my suggestion that CityArts might be funded through a public/private partnership which could increase the dollars allotted to it. “It is a program we can grow and you’re right to consider leveraging the City’s current investment,” she writes me. “We need to make the biggest impact we can with the dollars we have available and we plan to research ways to expand the funding pool as widely as possible.”</p><p>She continues, “So, is a public-private partnership the most appropriate vehicle for leveraging the CityArts program? At this point, I don’t know the answer to that question. We’re trying to find a balance between the many fiscal benefits of partnerships, which you outlined in your (blog), and the benefits afforded to an entirely independent City program, some of which have helped CityArts become the truly unique and amazing program it is today.”</p><p>She concludes. “I anticipate that additional ideas for the grants program will emerge from the many community conversations we plan to hold” and that “there is a bright future ahead for the department’s granting efforts and for our overall support of arts and culture in Chicago.”</p><p>Naturally, you can count on Onstage/Backstage to post information on the upcoming community conversations as the schedule becomes available, and to continue tracking the activities and progress of what appears to be a reinvigorated DCASE under Commissioner Boone.</p><p>&nbsp;</p></p> Wed, 23 Nov 2011 17:46:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/blog/onstagebackstage/2011-11-23/community-conversations-impact-city-cultural-plan-94329 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 Emanuel budget revives Gospel Fest http://www.wbez.org/content/emanuel-budget-revives-gospel-fest <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/story/photo/2011-November/2011-11-10/chicago gospel fest_flickr_john iwanski.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>The Chicago City Council is set to vote on a budget next Wednesday, and one of the proposals could make fans of a musical genre with deep, local history sing out loud.</p><p style="text-align: center;"><object classid="clsid:D27CDB6E-AE6D-11cf-96B8-444553540000" data="http://www.flickr.com/apps/video/stewart.swf?v=109786" type="application/x-shockwave-flash" width="600" height="450"><param name="flashvars" value="intl_lang=en-us&amp;photo_secret=fe1b322002&amp;photo_id=3606107638"><param name="movie" value="http://www.flickr.com/apps/video/stewart.swf?v=109786"><param name="bgcolor" value="#000000"><param name="allowFullScreen" value="true"><embed allowfullscreen="true" bgcolor="#000000" flashvars="intl_lang=en-us&amp;photo_secret=fe1b322002&amp;photo_id=3606107638" src="http://www.flickr.com/apps/video/stewart.swf?v=109786" type="application/x-shockwave-flash" width="600" height="450"></object></p><p style="text-align: center;"><span style="font-size: 10px;"><em>Video via Flickr/Tim Wilson</em></span></p><p>Mayor Rahm Emanuel wants to spend more money on the Chicago Gospel Music Festival, otherwise known as Gospel Fest. But as happy as proponents are about that, they worry the proposal might cost the Chicago music genre its best showcase.</p><p>Gospel music was born here. Thomas Dorsey first combined the blues with sacred words in a church on Chicago’s South Side. Mahalia Jackson made her home here, and so did Albertina Walker and a host of others.</p><p>For years this art form had its own showcase: the Chicago Gospel Music Festival. That is, until former Mayor Richard Daley balked at the price, dismantled the stand-alone affair, shrunk it to a day and shoehorned it into Taste of Chicago.</p><p>When that happened, Pam Morris had this reaction: “Oh it hurt. It was a sting, a bite.”</p><p>Morris is a gospel host on WVON and the long-time former organizer of Gospel Fest. She was excited to hear Mayor Emanuel wants Gospel Fest to return as a stand-alone next June.</p><p>“There is still so much history in Chicago, it deserves its own platform, and, yes, I am standing on the sides saying, ‘Thank you Lord’,” Morris says.</p><p><img alt="" class="caption" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/story/insert-image/2011-November/2011-11-10/chicago gospel fest_flickr_john iwanski.jpg" style="width: 400px; height: 300px; float: left; margin: 5px;" title="Tony Tidwell and Favor perform a preview show for the 2010 Chicago Gospel Fest. (Flickr/John W. Iwanski)">But there’s some debate about Gospel Fest’s new incarnation.</p><p>The new commissioner of the Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events, Michelle Boone, wants to move the festival from downtown to the South Side because of the area’s rich gospel heritage. She says it’s also part of Emanuel’s initiative to bring arts to the neighborhoods so everyone has access.&nbsp;The festival could be based in Bronzeville, but it could include activities in other venues across the city, such as the Garfield Park Conservatory.</p><p>“We’re just really trying to blow the lid off and think as creatively as possible and involve as many communities as we can and use this as a template to see what can be done in the future,” Boone says.</p><p>If this works, Boone says the city will explore reviving other music festivals by moving them to the neighborhoods. Those weekend festivals also were cut and were given a day each during Taste.</p><p>One gospel enthusiast who’s watched this development is Effie Rolfe, &nbsp;a radio host at V103 and Inspiration 1390, where she’s also assistant program director and music director.</p><p>Rolfe says Gospel Fest’s return is wonderful news and she's heard that &nbsp;community members are ecstatic. But she’s also a bit concerned about Gospel Fest leaving the spotlight of downtown, where the Blues and Jazz Festivals still play.</p><p>“I did think ‘Wow, it would be nice if it were given the same platform,’" Rolfe says. “But you never know, maybe this would be even better.”</p><p>She says it’s possible that having the event in the neighborhoods will attract people who are leery of going downtown or who avoid crowds. Mainly, Rolfe says, she’s happy it’s coming back, “Trust me, I’m not complaining too much.”</p><p>The city’s cultural commissioner says critics shouldn’t worry; she says gospel music is tied to Chicago neighborhoods, and if the new festival attracts the biggest acts, the location will be moot.</p></p> Thu, 10 Nov 2011 11:00:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/content/emanuel-budget-revives-gospel-fest 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