WBEZ | Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events http://www.wbez.org/tags/department-cultural-affairs-and-special-events-0 Latest from WBEZ Chicago Public Radio en Jumping jacks high on city budget agenda http://www.wbez.org/blogs/alison-cuddy/2012-10/jumping-jacks-high-city-budget-agenda-103321 <p><div class="image-insert-image " style="text-align: center; "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" longdesc="" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/2450943054_ef209cde21_z_0.jpg" style="width: 620px; height: 465px; " title="Jumping Jacks prove controversial at city budget hearings(flickr/jaarons)" /></div><div class="image-insert-image "><div class="image-insert-image "><div class="image-insert-image ">The Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events (DCASE) has had a busy year. Under the leadership of Commissioner Michelle Boone, the department&#39;s been reorganized, put out the city&rsquo;s first cultural plan in 25 years, and overhauled long-standing festivals like the Taste of Chicago and Gospel Fest.</div><div class="image-insert-image "><br />But when Boone and some members of her Cultural Affairs team made their presentation at Monday&#39;s city budget hearings, many aldermen had something else on their mind: Jumping jacks.<br /><br />Jumping jacks go by many names, including bouncy houses, moon walks or moon bounces. They&#39;re those inflatable houses that kids, well, jump around in at most block and many back yard parties.&nbsp;Last year the Department handed the program off to a private contractor. That has some aldermen, like the 31st ward&#39;s Ray Suarez, concerned.</div><div class="image-insert-image ">&nbsp;</div><div class="image-insert-image ">Suarez asked a series of questions about the new program, including how many jumping jacks the City still owns (75 according to DCASE Chief of Staff David McDermott). At times his&nbsp;tone got a bit testy. McDermott claimed outsourcing had saved the department money, saying the city had spent about $250 per hour running the program while private contractors were managing it for around $70 per hour.</div><div class="image-insert-image ">&nbsp;</div><div class="image-insert-image ">Suarez replied: &quot;The private sector is out to make money. That&#39;s not our mission. Our mission is to provide some service and some enjoyment to the children.&quot;</div><div class="image-insert-image ">&nbsp;</div><div class="image-insert-image ">Commissioner Boone underlined that the new service wasn&#39;t just cheaper but better: &quot;Block parties were only able to have access to the jack for one hour. With the new system, the jack is now on site for four hours.&quot;</div><div class="image-insert-image ">&nbsp;</div><div class="image-insert-image ">Alderman Walter Burnett of the 27th ward thanked Boone for &quot;saving the program,&quot; but also noted there were still some &quot;kinks to be worked out.&quot; And while&nbsp;committee chair Carrie Austin of the 34th ward commended Boone for &quot;doing an outstanding job&quot; she closed the meeting by reiterating that she wanted to know more about the new jumping jacks program, including &quot;the numbers of savings as well as the costs in-house, so that we can transmit that to our constituency.&quot;</div><div class="image-insert-image ">&nbsp;</div><div class="image-insert-image ">All told, the discussion of jumping jacks took up about a quarter of the entire hour-long presentation. And though a block party amusement may seem like a trivial, side-bar matter, in the larger context the focus on them isn&#39;t surprising. During&nbsp;this round of the hearings, aldermen asked cost-benefit type questions about any number of programs DCASE is running, from the newly re-vamped Taste of Chicago to the neighborhood festivals.</div><div class="image-insert-image ">&nbsp;</div><div class="image-insert-image ">As with any other city department, as costs for services have gone up, they&#39;re being passed on to residents, whether in the form of new ticketed seating and reserved events within the &quot;free admission&quot; Taste, or new fees for festival organizers (which until last November were waived). 43rd Ward Alderman Michelle Smith welcomed a possible &quot;neighborhood festival association&quot; (one of the initiatives in the new cultural plan) as a tool for keeping the number of festivals to a sustainable level. And outside council chambers, Alderman John Arena of the 45th ward said when it comes to festival fees, he wanted to be sure the money wouldn&#39;t go into the general fund but back into cultural programming.</div><div class="image-insert-image ">&nbsp;</div><div class="image-insert-image ">But according to an email from DCASE spokesperson Mary May, &quot;DCASE does not collect the revenues generated&quot; from neighborhood festivals. Instead they are &quot;collected and deposited into the city departments permitting the events, such as the Department of Business Affairs, CDOT (Chicago Department of Transportation) or Department of Buildings.&quot;&nbsp;</div><div class="image-insert-image ">&nbsp;</div><div class="image-insert-image ">As for the cultural plan itself, after the meeting Commissioner Boone said the next step in the plan was another plan, for implementation. She estimated that should be made public within 100 days.</div></div></div><p>&nbsp;</p></p> Mon, 22 Oct 2012 15:24:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/blogs/alison-cuddy/2012-10/jumping-jacks-high-city-budget-agenda-103321 Chicago drafts a new cultural plan http://www.wbez.org/blogs/alison-cuddy/2012-07/chicago-drafts-new-cultural-plan-100914 <p><p>The city of Chicago today releases a draft version of its <a href="http://2012chicagoculturalplan.blogspot.com/2012/07/draft-chicago-cultural-plan-2012.html?utm_source=feedburner&amp;utm_medium=feed&amp;utm_campaign=Feed%3A+ChicagoCulturalPlan2012+%28Chicago+Cultural+Plan+2012%29">2012 Cultural Plan</a><a href="http://www.chicagoculturalplan2012.com">,</a> after months of public and private meetings. This is the city&#39;s first cultural plan in about 25 years; the last one was created under then-Mayor Harold Washington.</p><p>Some proposals are big-ticket items.</p><p>A &quot;museum campus south&quot; would see new infrastructure built around the Museum of Science and Industry and the DuSable Museum of African American History.</p><p>Despite recent cuts to music festivals, three entirely new festivals are proposed, as well as a dedicated, year-round city festival site.</p><p>One of the biggest initiatives involves overhauling arts education at Chicago Public Schools, which would include a district-wide curriculum, new state standards and city funding. There&#39;s also an emphasis on bringing arts and culture to the neighborhoods through proposals such as neighborhood cultural councils and matching funds for cultural districts.</p><p>The timeline for implementation ranges from the present to 20 years.</p><p>Starting next week the city will convene four town halls across Chicago to gather feedback, before presenting its final plan:</p><p><strong>July 24</strong> &ndash; 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. - <strong>Malcolm X College </strong></p><p>1900 West Van Buren<br /><br />&nbsp;</p><p><strong>July 25</strong> &ndash; 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. - <strong>South Shore Cultural Center</strong></p><p>7059 S. South Shore Drive&nbsp;</p><p>&nbsp;</p><p><strong>July 28</strong> - 10 a.m. to noon - <strong>St. Augustine College-Essanay Studios</strong></p><p>1345 West Argyle St.</p><p>&nbsp;</p><p><strong>July 31</strong> - 6:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. - <strong>Chicago Cultural Center</strong></p><p style="margin-left:-.5in;">&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; 78 East Washington St.</p><p style="margin-left:-.5in;">&nbsp;</p><p style="margin-left:-.5in;">&nbsp;</p></p> Mon, 16 Jul 2012 05:00:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/blogs/alison-cuddy/2012-07/chicago-drafts-new-cultural-plan-100914 Weekender: Boot camp for art buyers! http://www.wbez.org/blogs/alison-cuddy/2012-05/weekender-boot-camp-art-buyers-99684 <p><div class="image-insert-image " style="text-align: center;"><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/mill%20park.jpg" style="height: 413px; width: 620px;" title="(Flickr/Princess Stand In The Rain)" /></div><div class="image-insert-image " style="text-align: center;">&nbsp;</div><div class="image-insert-image ">Chicago: city of tall buildings, amazing dining, and believe it or not, a rockin&rsquo; public arts scene. Everyone plays their part in making it happen &ndash; from private groups like the Chicago Loop Alliance (which will officially unveil <a href="http://artloop.chicagoloopalliance.com/">Color Jam </a>next week) to non-profits like the <a href="http://www.cpag.net/home/index.html">Chicago Public Art Group</a> (which preserves and creates new murals, mosaics and sculptures), to government agencies including the <a href="http://www.transitchicago.com/art/">Chicago Transit Authority</a> and the <a href="http://www.cityofchicago.org/city/en/depts/dca/provdrs/public_art_program.html">city of Chicago</a>. The latter has ushered in public art projects both historical (<a href="http://chicago-outdoor-sculptures.blogspot.com/2007/11/riverwalk-gateway-i.html">Ellen Lanyon&rsquo;s Riverwalk Gateway</a>) and hysterical (remember <a href="http://www.chicagotraveler.com/cows_on_parade.htm">Cows on Parade?</a>).</div><div class="image-insert-image ">&nbsp;</div><div class="image-insert-image ">Now Chicago&rsquo;s public arts may well be getting a boost: The City&rsquo;s Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events recently hired Daniel Schulman as Program Director of the Visual Arts &ndash; Exhibitions and Public Art Section. In that position, Schulman will program exhibitions at the Chicago Cultural Center and other city galleries. He&rsquo;ll also be responsible for the city&rsquo;s collection of public art and the Public Art Program.</div><div class="image-insert-image ">&nbsp;</div><div class="image-insert-image ">Schulman&rsquo;s name may ring a bell with many - he has a long history in Chicago art. He was a curator in the Department of Modern Art at the Art Institute of Chicago from 1993-2004 and as an independent curator put together <a href="http://www.spertus.edu/julius-rosenwald-force-change">an exhibit at the Spertus Institute</a>. He grew up in Hyde Park and when we spoke earlier this week, he told me his formative art experiences included studio art classes at the Hyde Park Art Center and an internship at The Renaissance Society in 1977 while a high school senior.</div><div class="image-insert-image "><br />Schulman&rsquo;s art history interests reflect his hometown pride: He has tended to focus on African-American art in the 20th century, &ldquo;so much of which revolves around Chicago&rdquo; (read his essay on Chicago sculptor Marion Perkins <a href="http://www.artic.edu/aic/books/mstudies/24-2_preview/6/index.html">here</a>). He says he had &ldquo;the good luck&rdquo; to work with <a href="http://www.saic.edu/people/Stuckey_Charles.html?color=ORANGE">Charles Stuckey </a>at the Art Institute, who was a &ldquo;pioneer in addressing gaps in the museum&rsquo;s coverage of African American artists.&rdquo;</div><div class="image-insert-image ">&nbsp;</div><div class="image-insert-image ">Chicagoans are likely also familiar with Chicago&rsquo;s Public Art Program, if only because it has long been dogged by controversy. Starting in 1999, <a href="http://articles.chicagotribune.com/2001-06-09/news/0106090202_1_public-art-program-lash-scott-hodes">local attorney Scott Hodes launched a number of complaints </a>against the program, including civil lawsuits charging financial mismanagement and a lack of transparency. (The city then turned around and <a href="http://www.chicagoreader.com/chicago/countersued-miscellany/Content?oid=921992">sued Hodes</a>, claiming fraud.)</div><div class="image-insert-image "><br />And in a <a href="http://culturalpolicy.uchicago.edu/papers/workingpapers/AnziaBeyondBattlefield.pdf">2007 study </a>Susan Anzia, then a graduate student at the University of Chicago, argued that the program had &ldquo;run its useful life course.&rdquo; Anzia also criticized the program&rsquo;s governing body, the Public Art Committee (PAC), a group consisting of government officials and art community representatives. In Anzia&rsquo;s view the committee, while having &ldquo;formal authority to do a great deal,&rdquo; more often &ldquo;simply puts a stamp of approval on the decisions made by the program staff and the project-specific panels prior to PAC meetings.&rdquo;</div><div class="image-insert-image "><br />Daniel Schulman, who served on PAC from 1999-2007, disagreed with that assessment, calling it &ldquo;not true.&rdquo; On the matter of the future of the public arts program, Schulman had even less to say. Currently the program is overseen by the Chicago Office of Tourism and Culture, a department Schulman says is slated to &ldquo;disappear&rdquo; as of June 30. Until that date the program, like many of the city&rsquo;s cultural initiatives, is &ldquo;in transition.&rdquo; And until the department comes under his leadership, Schulman said it was &ldquo;not appropriate&rdquo; to provide more specific details, including whether or not the program will survive.</div><div class="image-insert-image "><br />He did say they&rsquo;d be looking &ldquo;very carefully&rdquo; at the program, including the way it is funded. With public art programs the &ldquo;results are unpredictable &ndash; so why make them predictable?&rdquo; In other words he thinks the department needs to be open to different funding formulas and independent ideas &ndash; &ldquo;suppose an artist comes in with an idea that is just phenomenal &hellip; how do you fit that into your bylaws or specific mission?&rdquo;</div><div class="image-insert-image "><br />The only project Schulman mentioned by name is the proposed <a href="http://www.suntimes.com/11228760-417/from-city-railway-to-bike-trail.html">Bloomingdale Trail development</a>, which he hasn&rsquo;t been involved in but he considers a project where public art can &ldquo;really put a strong imprint on either a corner, a neighborhood, or a region of the city.&rdquo;</div><div class="image-insert-image "><br />City dwellers know that to already be the case &ndash; though they&rsquo;ll have to wait until after June 30 to hear whether the city has new public art projects in the works. In the meantime, check out some of the public art in your neighborhood &ndash; and the rest of Weekender&rsquo;s picks below!</div><div class="image-insert-image ">&nbsp;</div><div class="image-insert-image " style="text-align: center;">&nbsp;</div><div class="image-insert-image " style="text-align: center;">&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/TIPPING-POINT_front-731x1024.jpg" style="height: 183px; width: 240px; border-width: 1px; border-style: solid; margin: 10px; float: left;" title="" /><a href="http://www.thevisualist.org/2012/06/the-tipping-point-of-me-and-we/"><span style="font-size:16px;"><strong>1. The Tipping Point of Me and We</strong></span></a></div></div><p>Friday 5 p.m. - 8 p.m.</p><p>A multi-media exploration of individuals and communities at the breaking point.</p><p><a href="http://blackpearl.org/little-black-pearl/">Little Black Pearl Art &amp; Design Center</a></p><p>1060 East 47th Street</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/do%20division.jpg" style="height: 206px; width: 240px; border-width: 1px; border-style: solid; margin: 10px; float: left;" title="" /></div><div class="image-insert-image "><a href="http://www.do-divisionstreetfest.com/"><span style="font-size:16px;"><strong>2. Do-Division Street Festival</strong></span></a></div><div class="image-insert-image ">&nbsp;</div><div class="image-insert-image ">Friday - Sunday</div><div class="image-insert-image ">&nbsp;</div><div class="image-insert-image ">Rock out in the old stomping grounds of Nelson Algren.</div><div class="image-insert-image ">&nbsp;</div><div class="image-insert-image ">&nbsp;</div><div class="image-insert-image ">Between Ashland Avenue &amp; Leavitt 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 ">&nbsp;</div><div class="image-insert-image ">&nbsp;</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/57th.jpg" style="height: 152px; width: 239px; border-width: 1px; border-style: solid; margin: 10px; float: left;" title="" /></div><div class="image-insert-image "><span style="font-size:16px;"><strong><a href="http://www.57thstreetartfair.org/">3. 57th Street Art Fair</a></strong></span></div><div class="image-insert-image ">&nbsp;</div><div class="image-insert-image ">Saturday - Sunday</div><div class="image-insert-image ">&nbsp;</div><div class="image-insert-image ">The Midwest&#39;s oldest juried art fair - complete with an art-buying boot camp.</div><div class="image-insert-image ">&nbsp;</div><div class="image-insert-image ">57th Street and South Kimbark Avenue</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 ">&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/force.jpg" style="height: 213px; width: 240px; border-width: 1px; border-style: solid; margin: 10px; float: left;" title="" /></div></div><div class="image-insert-image "><a href="http://www.chicagoforcefootball.com/index.asp"><span style="font-size:16px;"><strong>4. Chicago Force vs. Indy Crash</strong></span></a></div><div class="image-insert-image ">&nbsp;</div><div class="image-insert-image ">Saturday 5 p.m.</div><div class="image-insert-image ">&nbsp;</div><div class="image-insert-image ">Women can tackle - hard! Find out how hard at the final regular season home game of the Force!</div><div class="image-insert-image ">&nbsp;</div><div class="image-insert-image "><a href="http://www.chicagoforcefootball.com/stadium.asp">Lazier Field</a> at <a href="http://www.eths.k12.il.us/main.aspx">Evanston Township High School</a></div><div class="image-insert-image ">&nbsp;</div><div class="image-insert-image ">2285 Church Street&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 ">&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/battleslead.jpg" style="height: 211px; width: 239px; border-width: 1px; border-style: solid; margin: 10px; float: left;" title="" /><a href="http://bttls.com/"><span style="font-size:16px;"><strong>5. Battles</strong></span></a></div></div><p><strong>Please note: This show has been postponed to June 14</strong></p><p><br />A blistering blend of math-rock, techno, and pop!</p><p><a href="http://bottomlounge.com/">Bottom Lounge</a></p><p>1375 West Lake Street</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/fugazi.jpg" style="height: 162px; width: 240px; border-width: 1px; border-style: solid; margin: 10px; float: left;" title="" /><strong><a href="https://www.facebook.com/events/143890555735580/?notif_t=plan_user_invited"><span style="font-size:16px;">6. INSTRUMENT plays Fugazi&#39;s 13 Songs &amp; More</span></a></strong></div><div class="image-insert-image ">&nbsp;</div><div class="image-insert-image ">Sunday 7 p.m.</div><div class="image-insert-image ">&nbsp;</div><div class="image-insert-image ">The local band pays tribute to the legendary band who took punk far beyond hardcore.</div><div class="image-insert-image ">&nbsp;</div><div class="image-insert-image "><a href="http://lincolnhallchicago.com/">Lincoln Hall</a>&nbsp;&nbsp; 2424 North Lincoln Avenue</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 "><p><strong>Click <a href="http://itunes.apple.com/podcast/weekender/id469524810" target="_blank">here</a> to subscribe to the <em>Weekender</em> podcast.</strong></p><div class="image-insert-image ">&nbsp;</div><div class="image-insert-image "><strong>What&#39;re you up to this weekend? Let us know in the comments below or email weekender@wbez.org</strong></div></div></div><p>&nbsp;</p></p> Fri, 01 Jun 2012 05:00:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/blogs/alison-cuddy/2012-05/weekender-boot-camp-art-buyers-99684 "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 DCASE do-over, part II http://www.wbez.org/blog/onstagebackstage/2011-11-08/dcase-do-over-part-ii-93799 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//blog/photo/2011-November/2011-11-08/5374308504_fe2d28423a.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>A spokesperson for the Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events (DCASE) contacted me after I wrote <a href="http://www.wbez.org/blog/onstagebackstage/2011-11-03/dcase-does-do-over-93712">last week’s blog post</a> to provide some additional information and to correct some inaccuracies.</p><p><img alt="" class="caption" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/blog/insert-image/2011-November/2011-11-08/5374308504_fe2d28423a.jpg" style="margin-left: 10px; margin-top: 10px; margin-bottom: 10px; float: right; width: 300px; height: 400px;" title="The Chicago Cultural Center (Flickr/Marit &amp; Toomas Hinnosaar)">The chief inaccuracy—one which I’ve been guilty of perpetuating—is the notion that the former Department of Cultural Affairs (DCA) and the Mayor’s Office of Special Events were merged last autumn in order to protect the jobs of the Special Events staff, which I (and other writers) characterized as political hires. The spokesperson—who commented off-the-record—said that only six of the jobs at Special Events were political hires and the rest—approximately two dozen—were protected positions. As is typical in such situations, the political appointees were in top-ranking positions.</p><p>The DCASE representative also insisted that the decision to merge DCA and Special Events was separate from the decision to outsource day-to-day cultural programming to the Office of Tourism. Indeed, that move was made as a result of a third action in which the Office of Tourism separated from the DCA, of which it was a part, to become an independent and separately-funded entity. This led to the loss of nearly 30 DCA jobs, some being Tourism staffers who kept their jobs but under a different set of books, and others being the DCA’s cultural programmers who were let go.</p><p>The DCASE rep acknowledged that the timing of these moves meant that one action compounded the other, giving the appearance that Special Events staff was displacing DCA staff. The rep also noted that changes were long-contemplated although never publicly discussed (then again, the City rarely offers public discussion about administrative restructuring), and acknowledged that the full ramifications of these actions was not understood, especially the decision to outsource cultural programming to the Office of Tourism. On the other hand, former DCA Commissioner Lois Weisberg made public statements in which she said she had not been consulted about the changes.</p><p>In a minor correction, DCASE last year had only 73 full-time employees vs. the 79 I reported in my column. I got my number from the published City of Chicago budget, but the DCASE spokesperson observed that there had been some staff consolidations after the 2011 budget was published. However, the Department WILL have 79 full-time employees in 2012, thereby adding six jobs even though the DCASE 2012 budget is down 9.5%. Of course, by not renewing its contract with the Office of Tourism and Cultural Affairs, DCASE will be able to finance the new jobs with change left over. Additionally, as I wrote last week, DCASE is consolidating the separate bureaus of Special Events and Cultural Affairs, which will free up an additional 11 positions.</p><p>So, that’s 17 new or reconceived jobs at DCASE and 14 of them will be in a new cultural programming division, or perhaps a reconstituted cultural programming division would be a better way to describe it.</p><p>The shifts may be tough on some of the old DCA employees who were bounced out of jobs a year ago, and then were hired to do essentially the same work at the Office of Tourism and Cultural Affairs, and now will find themselves once again bounced out of their jobs. Of course, they can re-apply to DCASE, which is mounting an open application process to fill the positions, and which hopes to have everyone hired during the first quarter of 2012.</p><p>The contract between DCASE and Tourism was only for one year. To state what may be obvious, it will be better for the Department’s cultural programming, and for Chicago’s arts community, to have planning and execution handled by individuals with long-term job prospects, rather than those dependent on renewal of an annual contract.</p></p> Tue, 08 Nov 2011 16:00:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/blog/onstagebackstage/2011-11-08/dcase-do-over-part-ii-93799