WBEZ | Department of Cultural Affairs http://www.wbez.org/tags/department-cultural-affairs Latest from WBEZ Chicago Public Radio en Make no small cultural plans http://www.wbez.org/blog/onstagebackstage/2012-02-24/make-no-small-cultural-plans-96704 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/blog/photo/2012-February/2012-02-24/2408912567_e2494c835b.jpg" alt="" /><p><p><img alt="" class="caption" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/blog/insert-image/2012-February/2012-02-24/2408912567_e2494c835b.jpg" style="margin-right: 10px; margin-top: 10px; margin-bottom: 10px; float: left; width: 300px; height: 303px;" title="The downtown Chicago Public Library, home to many special collections. (Flickr/Shawn Econo)">The Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events (DCASE) has begun to fulfill Rahm Emmanuel’s campaign promise to draft a comprehensive cultural plan for the City of Chicago. We haven’t had a new one since 1986 when Mayor Harold Washington first established the Dept. of Cultural Affairs and ordered a cultural assessment.</p><p>The public is invited to participate in preparation of the plan—due to be published in the fall—through public forums and <a href="http://www.chicagoculturalplan2012.com">an interactive website</a>.</p><p>OK, so what should a cultural scheme for Chicago include?</p><p>On the one hand, it should obey the dictum attributed to Daniel Burnham to “make no small plans.” Let’s think big. As Danny Thomas used to say (and he knew whereof he spoke), “If you’re gonna’ have a nose, have a NOSE!” Let’s dream, let’s imagine. Let’s propose new cultural entities and facilities, just as long as we have programs first to fill buildings and not empty buildings waiting for programs to utilize them.</p><p>On the other hand, there’s economic reality. Despite the proven importance of arts and culture as a dynamic economic engine for the city (and state), one would be loco to think Chicago will substantially increase the dollars it puts into culture. The city will do everything it can . . . as long as “everything” costs little or nothing or generates revenue.</p><p>Where does that leave a cultural master plan? What should it include? What <em>can</em> it include? My thoughts are no more definitive than anyone else’s, but may be somewhat more informed or enlightened by virtue of my reporting on arts and culture for so many years. What I propose may seem vague, but for starters the City of Chicago Cultural Plan needs to address patrimony, places and partnerships.</p><p>By patrimony—as the United Nations uses the term—I mean the buildings, archives and collections that form the cultural heritage of Chicago. The plan needs to identify these things and catalog them. Some are obvious, such as our architectural heritage, with regard to which the City has a smudged and spotty record, best summed up by saying our aldermen never met a developer they didn’t like. Also obviously, we have significant public and private art collections which should be identified, in part so we can do what we can to keep them in Chicago.</p><div class="inset"><div class="insetContent"><p><span style="font-size:10px;">Listen to the Dueling Critics debate Porchlight's <em>A Catered Affair </em>on <em>Eight Forty-Eight</em></span></p><p><span class="filefield_audio_insert_player" href="/sites/default/files/120224 Onstage Backstage.mp3" id="filefield_audio_insert_player-126376" player="null">120224 Onstage Backstage.mp3</span></p></div></div><p>But some of our patrimony is less obvious. Our cultural archives and records, for example, are haphazard and scattered, with some papers, photos and clippings at the Newberry Library, some at the Chicago Public Library Special Collections, others at the Chicago History Museum or various universities, etc. A cultural plan might make an effort to cross catalog holdings and to establish a central archive for things not yet collected, such as theater reviews and articles that chronicle the rise of Chicago Off-Loop Theater over the last 45-50 years. DCASE and a cultural plan could be the catalysts for inter-agency and inter-institution cooperation.&nbsp;</p><p>By places, I mean the physical facilities at which cultural events can occur. Again, many of these are obvious and already in use but not all of them. For example, several Chicago Park District field houses are utilized for theater, dance and musical performances, but not all the field houses that might be suitable. The cultural plan could engage the Park District in identifying additional locations and, perhaps, finding ways to finance small capital improvements to make more spaces available.</p><p>On another front, several aldermen have assisted performing arts organizations in locating suitable spaces to serve as permanent homes (the most recent example being James Cappleman’s assist in relocating the National Pastime Theater to the Preston Bradley Center), and DCASE itself has brokered such deals. But there isn’t a consistent program or policy to do this sort of thing. Here is another opportunity for DCASE and a cultural plan to serve as catalyst and facilitator at little or no cost.</p><p>Finally, the master cultural document needs to address partnerships, meaning public-private partnerships and naming rights. In the current economic climate, such partnerships are among the few ways that arts and culture might generate an infusion of new dollars. The City and the Park District already have created such partnerships in the development of Millennium Park and in corporate support for the Grant Park Music Festival among other examples. I’ve already used this blog space to promote (twice) the idea that DCASE’s CityArts (sic) Grants program should be underwritten by a corporate sponsor with dollars coming 50-50 from the City and the sponsor.</p><p>There are, of course, numerous other funding possibilities, the most obvious of which are the huge aldermanic slush fund boondoggles known as TIF Districts, which directly siphon off property tax money that <em>should</em> be going to education, the parks and so on. Our City Council never will give up TIFs voluntarily, but they just might mandate that a certain percentage of each TIF be earmarked for arts and culture in support of specifics in the cultural plan or, better yet, in support of arts in education which has all but disappeared from our public schools (which also must be addressed by the cultural plan).</p><p>So there are my ideas for the City of Chicago Cultural Plan. Meanwhile, I have copies of long-deceased magazines and newspapers for which I wrote over the years, and I have my collection of Off-Loop Theater t-shirts and coffee cups all waiting for an appropriate home. Clearly, the Plan’s first recommendation should be a call for the Jonathan Abarbanel Theater Archive, to which my bones can be added not-too-many years from now.&nbsp;</p></p> Fri, 24 Feb 2012 16:20:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/blog/onstagebackstage/2012-02-24/make-no-small-cultural-plans-96704 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 Gospel Fest to return and move to South Side http://www.wbez.org/story/gospel-fest-return-and-move-south-side-93552 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/story/photo/2011-October/2011-10-28/4669096858_690783197b.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>Chicago's Gospel Fest is returning next year, and it's moving to the South Side.<br> <br> This past summer, like several other music festivals, the Gospel Fest got folded into Taste of Chicago due to budget cuts and was shrunk so it was only a day long.</p><p>But the Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events (DCASE) plans to revive Gospel Fest and make it a full festival again.<br> <br> Commissioner Michelle Boone testified in budget hearings today.</p><p>"We're looking to use Gospel Fest as a possible model to re-engage our audiences with that festival work, taking this festival in particular into a neighborhood on the South Side, but also looking to explore other resources across the city that also have these deep gospel roots and history we can also take advantage of," Boone said.</p><p>She said it's a high priority to ensure all residents have access to "high-quality arts." So the department plans to work with arts groups like Chicago Dancing Festival to extend programing into neighborhoods.</p><p>Boone also announced she's restructuring the department.</p><p>In the waning days of Mayor Daley's administration, Daley essentially dismantled the Department of Cultural Affairs. He merged it with the Mayor's Office of Special Events, laid off a bunch of staff, and transferred much of the arts programming to the Chicago Office of Tourism and Culture. There was a storm of criticism, and long-time and influential Cultural Affairs Commissioner Lois Weisberg resigned in protest of the merger.<br> <br> "Those decisions were made without any regard to the merger or the impact to the Department of Cultural Affairs joining forces with the Mayor's Office of Special Events," Boone said.</p><p>Boone said she came in with the charge to reexamine those decisions and make the department "whole." She ordered an audit to look at all of the programming. She plans to have the Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events take back arts programming, exhibitions, grants, and most programming related to Millennium Park and the Chicago Cultural Center.</p><p>Boone said tourism-related functions will stay with the tourism office. DCASE will significantly reduce the city's grant to the tourism office.</p><p>Next year, DCASE plans to expand farmers' markets to food deserts.</p><p>It's already been reported the city plans to cut back the number of days of Taste of Chicago because the festival is losing money. Boone says she'd like the festival to give more neighborhood restaurants the opportunity to participate. DCASE is working with architects and designers to improve the festival's layout.<br> &nbsp;</p></p> Thu, 27 Oct 2011 21:37:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/story/gospel-fest-return-and-move-south-side-93552 Only one bidder wants to privatize Chicago's music festivals... but who the heck is it? http://www.wbez.org/blog/jim-derogatis/only-one-bidder-wants-privatize-chicagos-music-festivals-who-heck-it <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/Chicago Music Festival Crowd.JPG" alt="" /><p><p style="text-align: center;"><img title="" alt="" style="width: 500px; height: 183px;" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/blog/insert-image/2010-December/2010-12-27/celebrate.jpg" /></p><p>The deadline for promoters responding to the request for proposals to privatize Taste of Chicago, the Blues Festival, and the five other soon-to-be-formerly-free city music festivals was 4 p.m. Monday, having been extended from the same time on the day the night before Christmas, and the results are in. Drum roll please...</p><p>The one and only bidder is a company called Celebrate Chicago, LLC.</p><p>No Ticketmaster/Live Nation. No Jam Productions. And no C3 Presents... unless of course one of them is part of Celebrate Chicago, LLC. And alas, as of this moment, we have no way of knowing.</p><p>The company does not turn up on a search of registered corporations in Illinois--possibly because it was formed specifically to respond to this proposal, either as a dedicated venture or a partnership with other entities to qualify for the city's women and minority hiring rules, and probably because it's too new to have been registered yet with the state, especially given the holiday.</p><p>The city is not going to share any other information with the public on who this bidder is or what it would like to do until the bidding evaluation committee either accepts the proposal and awards a contract or decides to keep the festivals in-house. Wrote Altha Riley, overseer of the bidding process for the Department of Procurement Services: &quot;Only the names of the respondents are public information. No other proposal information is available until after the RFP&nbsp;process is complete. Once a vendor is selected and contract awarded, DPS [the Department of Procurement Services] can process Freedom of Information Act or debriefing meeting requests.&quot;</p><p>So:&nbsp;Who is Celebrate Chicago?</p><p>We'll either have to wait to find out... or keep digging. In the mean time, all (educated)&nbsp;guesses are welcome!</p><p><strong>Earlier reports in this blog about privatizing the city festivals and the battle between the Mayor&rsquo;s Office of Special Events and the Department of Cultural Affairs:</strong></p><p><a href="http://www.wbez.org/blog/jim-derogatis/what%E2%80%99s-really-going-cultural-affairs-and-what-happens-arts-and-music-now">Dec. 20:&nbsp;What's really going on at Cultural Affairs, and what happens to arts and music now?</a></p> <p><a href="../../../../../blog/jim-derogatis/chicagos-department-cultural-affairs-dismantled-29-are-laid">Dec. 16: Chicago&rsquo;s Department of Cultural Affairs is dismantled as 29 are laid off</a></p> <p><a href="../../../../../blog/jim-derogatis/nope-they-won%E2%80%99t-have-remain-free%E2%80%A6-and-answers-other-questions-about-privatizing-c">Dec. 14: Nope, they won&rsquo;t have to remain free&hellip; and answers to other questions about privatizing the city music festivals</a></p> <p><a href="../../../../../blog/jim-derogatis/city-festivals-chief-responds-blogs-reporting-push-privatization">Dec. 7: City festivals chief responds to this blog&rsquo;s reporting on the push for privatization</a></p> <p><a href="../../../../../blog/jim-derogatis/are-political-power-struggle-and-sweetheart-deal-fueling-citys-push-privatize-sum">Dec. 6: Are a political power struggle and a sweetheart deal fueling the city's push to privatize the summer music festivals?</a></p> <p><a href="../../../../../blog/jim-derogatis/psst-hey-buddy-wanna-buy-city-festival">Nov. 22: Psst! Hey, buddy: Wanna buy a city festival?</a></p></p> Tue, 28 Dec 2010 00:22:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/blog/jim-derogatis/only-one-bidder-wants-privatize-chicagos-music-festivals-who-heck-it What’s really going on at Cultural Affairs, and what happens to arts and music now? http://www.wbez.org/blog/jim-derogatis/what%E2%80%99s-really-going-cultural-affairs-and-what-happens-arts-and-music-now <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/Weisberg McDonald.jpg" alt="" /><p><p style="text-align: center;"><img src="http://llnw.wbez.org/blog/insert-image/2010-December/2010-12-20/no art trio.jpg" alt="" title="" style="width: 486px; height: 162px;" /></p><p>&nbsp;</p><p><strong>WITH&nbsp;SEVERAL&nbsp;UPDATES, 12:30 p.m. MONDAY</strong></p><p>&ldquo;Whether it&rsquo;s onstage at the Jay Pritzker Pavilion or under the Family Fun Festival Tent on the Chase Promenades, programming will continue to expand throughout Millennium Park as programming expands from seasonal to year-round,&rdquo; reads the optimistic language addressing the soon-to-be-merged Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events in the 2011 Chicago Budget.</p> <p>&ldquo;In 2010, DCASE will offer 704 free programs at Millennium Park. In 2011, this number will increase to a target of 726 programs over the same programming time period.&rdquo;</p> <p>Maybe&mdash;but maybe not, say skeptical sources concerned about both the dismantling of the Department of Cultural Affairs, where 29 employees have been laid off since October, and the push to privatize the big summer music festivals in Grant Park.</p> <p>Scott Waguespack (32nd) is the first alderman to go on the record in emphatically questioning whether the Daley administration is screwing the arts on its way out. In an email to this blogger, he wrote:</p> <blockquote><p>&ldquo;Mayor Daley should do what is right by the people of this city and keep the festivals in-house instead of further suppressing the culture of the Chicago music industry. This deal is no different than the parking meters in that lame duck Mayor Daley has reduced a well-run city department to ruins overnight and sold off what could be a success story. Shifting funds and all of the staff out of the Department of Cultural Affairs in the waning days of this Administration has completely sealed the fate of experienced staff and the music festivals. The shifting of virtually every penny out of the Cultural Affairs office is a giant step backwards and people will be even more skeptical about the survival of Chicago&rsquo;s music scene.&nbsp;Unfortunately, the facts and shifting of funds that led to the inability to run the festivals have been as distorted as the parking meter deal. The actors in this deal may (or may not) be different from the ones who conspired to monopolize the summer music scene with Lollapalooza but the end result will be the same. The privatization of Chicago&rsquo;s festivals is happening out of arrogance and self-interest that plays right into the hands of private corporations looking to make a killing on the festivals and Chicago taxpayers.&rdquo;</p></blockquote> <p>Many of the other Chicago blogs that picked up my report last week about the dismantling of Cultural Affairs--<a href="http://www.chicagotribune.com/entertainment/music/ct-live-1221-jazz-orlove-20101220,0,3535492.column">as well as Howard Reich at the Tribune today</a>--focused on the firing of beloved, hard-working, and extraordinarily talented music programmer Michael Orlove, and accepted at face value the city&rsquo;s attempt to spin the story as merely &ldquo;shifting&rdquo; his job to the non-profit Chicago Tourism Fund.</p> <p>But Orlove is only one of the dedicated cultural programmers who were laid off. Theater programming was hit even harder than music, and many in that community are bemoaning the loss of Claire Geall Sutton, who is as revered in the theater world as Orlove is in the music community.</p><p style="text-align: center;"><img src="http://llnw.wbez.org/blog/insert-image/2010-December/2010-12-20/Sutton Orlove.jpg" alt="" title="" style="width: 446px; height: 327px;" /></p><p>Sources say that only four of the 29 people axed at Cultural Affairs have so far been offered jobs at the Tourism Fund. Many of these staffers measure their service to the city in decades, but even those who are allegedly lucky enough to be rehired by the Tourism Fund will be making substantially less money with fewer benefits, and they&rsquo;re losing their city pensions, even as the unusually well-paid and well-clouted-up employees at the Mayor&rsquo;s Office of Special Events hold on to all of their goodies.</p> <p>Sutton did not respond to a request for comment, but her husband Mark, a renowed improv comic and one of the founders of Annoyance Theatre, posted the following on the wall of the Department of Cultural Affairs theater page:</p><blockquote><p>&quot;Just thought I'd let the people who follow this site know that Claire Geall Sutton, who was the Director of Theater for Cultural Affairs and responsible for nuturing dozens of artists, theaters and programs for 17 years in Chicago was let go by the Department last week. She was one of 20+ people caught in a 'reduction of force' by the city... however she was one of only 2 not offered a job by the 'non-profit' Chicago Tourism Fund that will supposedly be taking over theater programming for the city. This, despite her programming being some of the little that generates revenue for both the artists involved and the city. Motives and fall-out are TBD.&quot;&nbsp;</p></blockquote><p>For his part, Orlove continues to decline to talk about the lay-offs and the future of the music programming formerly handled by Cultural Affairs. But he did post a message to his Facebook page late last week. He wrote:</p><blockquote><p>&ldquo;First off, let me say how lucky I feel to have such an incredible &lsquo;family&rsquo; out there. This viral outpouring of support has been overwhelming and humbling to say the least. THANK YOU!!! The last couple weeks here have been quite difficult, especially having to watch many of my beloved colleagues go through this entire... ordeal. It is hard to explain or understand why this all happened but numerous dedicated and creative employees of the Department of Cultural Affairs have been terminated. I am fortunate to have the option of joining the Chicago Tourism Fund starting January 1 (2011). In this economy I feel extremely lucky. I am no longer a City of Chicago employee but (as far as I know) remain 100% involved in organizing events at Millennium Park, Chicago Cultural Center, Chicago SummerDance, World Music Festival, etc. along with the incredibly talented team of Brian Keigher, Carlos Tortolero and Helen Vasey in the new year. Not the way I wanted to end 2010 but hopeful that next year could be even better.&rdquo;</p></blockquote> <p>The &ldquo;hopeful&rdquo; no doubt is there in part because running the formerly Cultural Affairs arts programming out of the Tourism Fund is a new and untested model, and it remains to be seen whether the same funding will be available. And at issue here again seems to be the political turf war between the Mayor&rsquo;s Office of Special Events under executive director and Daley family friend Megan McDonald and long-running Cultural Affairs chief Lois Weisberg.</p> <p>In the past, Special Events was funded by a pool of money call Fund 356, which accounted for all of the ticket sales and sponsorship revenue that its events generated.&nbsp;But as reported earlier, that income was down by almost $3 million in 2010. In 2011, the new city budget is using Hotel Tax Fund 355, which used to fund Cultural Affairs, to keep Special Events running. And Cultural Affairs is, in the words of one knowledgeable source, &ldquo;being thrown under the bus,&rdquo; even as Special Events prepares to pawn off its biggest job, the seven festivals in Grant Park, to a private promoter.</p> <p>Another source in the thick of all the turmoil and reluctant to be named for fear of hurting future employment opportunities summed it up thusly: &ldquo;For reasons no one here can really understand, it just seems like Daley or someone has decided to bring Lois Weisberg to her knees.&rdquo;</p><p style="text-align: center;"><img width="483" height="335" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/blog/insert-image/2010-December/2010-12-20/Weisberg McDonald.jpg" alt="" /></p> <p>A second benefit of shifting the politically-connected employees at the Mayor&rsquo;s Office of Special Events to the new Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events is assuring their job security. In their current positions, they are exempt from the Shakman Decrees and can be fired at the pleasure of the new mayor. In their new positions, they will be covered by Shakman and cannot be fired for politics.</p> <p>I wanted to ask Peter Scales, spokesman for the office of budget and management, about Funds 355 and 356 and to further probe the Shakman implications of all of this, but he did not respond to requests for comment on Friday. Nor, for that matter, has chief Cultural Affairs spokeswoman Karen Vaughan deigned to talk about the changes in her department beyond the oblique comment that, &ldquo;I can tell you that we have every reason to believe that all of our programs will continue next year and be better than ever. When we have more information, we would be happy to share it with you.&rdquo;</p> <p>Asked to comment about how the Chicago Tourism Fund will maintain the quality and level of programming previously provided by the Department of Cultural Affairs, Dorothy Coyle, the point person there, wrote, &ldquo;Unfortunately, I don&rsquo;t have any additional information at this point, but I&rsquo;d be happy to speak with you in the new year.&rdquo;</p> <p>Most conspicuously silent of all: Weisberg, who has declined numerous requests to talk about the cataclysmic changes in the department she has spent much of her life building.</p> <p>Waguespack, who says the shifts at Cultural Affairs were jammed through the City Council in committee, isn&rsquo;t the only one comparing what&rsquo;s happening to the arts in Chicago to the parking meter deal&mdash;and for a reminder on how well that went, you can&rsquo;t do better than <a href="http://www.rollingstone.com/politics/news/exclusive-excerpt-america-on-sale-from-matt-taibbis-griftopia-20101018">this excellent article</a> by investigative reporter Matt Taibbi in Rolling Stone.</p> <p>Meanwhile, pretty much everyone in the arts community agrees that the city has made a thorough mess of communicating exactly what happened and why, or how this move will improve cultural programming in 2011 and beyond.</p> <p><strong>Earlier reports in this blog about privatizing the city festivals and the battle between the Mayor&rsquo;s Office of Special Events and the Department of Cultural Affairs:</strong></p> <p><a href="../../../../../blog/jim-derogatis/chicagos-department-cultural-affairs-dismantled-29-are-laid">Dec. 16: Chicago&rsquo;s Department of Cultural Affairs is dismantled as 29 are laid off</a></p> <p><a href="../../../../../blog/jim-derogatis/nope-they-won%E2%80%99t-have-remain-free%E2%80%A6-and-answers-other-questions-about-privatizing-c">Dec. 14: Nope, they won&rsquo;t have to remain free&hellip; and answers to other questions about privatizing the city music festivals</a></p> <p><a href="../../../../../blog/jim-derogatis/city-festivals-chief-responds-blogs-reporting-push-privatization">Dec. 7: City festivals chief responds to this blog&rsquo;s reporting on the push for privatization</a></p> <p><a href="../../../../../blog/jim-derogatis/are-political-power-struggle-and-sweetheart-deal-fueling-citys-push-privatize-sum">Dec. 6: Are a political power struggle and a sweetheart deal fueling the city's push to privatize the summer music festivals?</a></p> <p><a href="../../../../../blog/jim-derogatis/psst-hey-buddy-wanna-buy-city-festival">Nov. 22: Psst! Hey, buddy: Wanna buy a city festival?</a></p><p>&nbsp;</p></p> Mon, 20 Dec 2010 13:00:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/blog/jim-derogatis/what%E2%80%99s-really-going-cultural-affairs-and-what-happens-arts-and-music-now Too much news this week! I can't wait til next week when everyone phones it in http://www.wbez.org/blog/justin-kaufmann/too-much-news-week-i-cant-wait-til-next-week-when-everyone-phones-it <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/AP101214152692.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>What a week in news! Everyone is putting their best work forward this week, so we can phone it in for the rest of the month.</p><p style="text-align: center;"><img height="481" width="512" title="" alt="" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/blog/insert-image/2010-December/2010-12-17/AP101214152692.jpg" /></p><p><em>Take a long look. Yep, city stickers cost that much. Sure, take a picture with your phone. That'll help. <br /></em></p><p><strong>Top story</strong>: <a href="http://www.wbez.org/blog/jim-derogatis/chicagos-department-cultural-affairs-dismantled-29-are-laid">Jim DeRogatis and the DCA&nbsp;layoffs</a>. Music blogger Jim DeRogatis left the Sun-Times this past summer to join the blogs. At first, we thought we would get a nice mix of &quot;I hate this and I hate that&quot; kind of blog posts, but he quickly put on his investigative reporter hat and has challenged Chicago's music establishment - from Lollapalooza to PPAs to his newest story about the privatizing of the summer festivals. This week, he reported on the 29 layoffs at the Department of Cultural Affairs. Yesterday, there was a lot of traffic and tremendous chatter on-line. That's a good blog post. DCA&nbsp;and the city contend that yes, they are layoffs but they are taking the money and transferring to the new Chicago Tourism Fund, which will rehire some positions (probably same people). But this isn't about where the duties are going to end up, this story is about the future of the city's relationship with music &amp; the arts. Under the direction of outgoing Mayor Richard M. Daley, the arts and music found places downtown. Some might argue that has been good and bad for the strength of the respective communities, but there was focus from the city. What happens now that the city is reorganizing? Will the city treat arts &amp;&nbsp;music like high schools do? Budgets are tight, get rid of SummerDance? It's a moment in Chicago worth watching.&nbsp;You might grow up and tell your kids or grandkids that downtown festivals used to be free. And that you used to sleep at the beach.</p><p><strong>B story</strong>: <a href="http://www.wbez.org/blog/justin-kaufmann/video-wbezs-sam-hudzik-becomes-star-after-sitting-behind-rahm-residency-hearing">Rahm Residency</a>. What an amazing waste of time! On Wednesday, Rahm Emanuel was put on &quot;the stand&quot; to be asked questions directly from his challengers. The first few interrogators were lawyers, but as the 11 hour session dragged on, lawyers gave way to regular citizens who had questions. Hey, that's what's great about our country. We have the freedom to ask would-be candidates really stupid questions. Yesterday was no better as Rahm's renters took the stand and said they never saw any boxes or other Emanuel family materials left behind in the house. So the lawyers sent over a photog who took pictures of the crawlspace, which the renters never looked in. Okay, cased closed. I think Joe Morris and the board of elections should take this exposure and widen their powers. Start having hearings on everything. Next, does that homeless guy who always asks me for change really need bus fare to Gurnee?&nbsp;</p><p><strong>C story: </strong>Earlier this week,&nbsp;I did a <a href="http://www.wbez.org/blog/justin-kaufmann/breaking-news-did-toni-preckwinkle-get-new-suit">fluffy post about new Cook&nbsp;County Board President Toni&nbsp;Preckwinkle</a>. I pointed out that Preckwinkle had become more stately already, by geting rid of that royal blue suit she ALWAYS&nbsp;wears. Instead, she had a black pin-stripe suit on. She is stepping up her game! Twitter didn't like it very much. I was accused of being sexist and a terrible, lazy journalist (the latter is accurate). The initial argument was that when women are in power, we attack how they look. When men are in power, we focus on issues. So after arguing the point that I've taken on Stroger for his bow-tie and Berny Stone for his drool, I've decided to become the new Chicago politician fashion police. Man or woman. You look bad (or good), I will call you out. Sound good? Equal? Toni Preckwinkle was the first, I think I&nbsp;might go with <a href="http://www.wbez.org/blog/justin-kaufmann/caption-contest-mayor-daley-wbez-studios">Daley and his 'Indiana Jones' hat next.</a>&nbsp;</p><p><strong>Weather</strong>: Readers of this here blog know that I don't really like weather news. It's cold, we get it. The blizzard story at the beginning of the week was pretty cool though, except for the Bears game. And memo to staffers at ABC7: We get it. Jerry Taft is fat and loves food. Stop teasing him every time there is a food lead-in or good-looking food image on the camera. Funny at first, now I just feel bad for him.</p><p><strong>Sports</strong>: The <a href="http://www.suntimes.com/sports/2883513-419/players-bears-field-game-nfl.html">Bears players</a> are starting to ratchet up the &quot;player safety&quot; angle when asked about playing at TCF&nbsp;Stadium this weekend. The Metrodome collapsed under the snow so the Vikings/Bears game will be outside at University of Minnesota. The big problem is that the stadium was shut down for the winter already. So no running water, no field-maintenence and no way to stop the snow from piling up. The Vikings want to stay in Minnesota to play the game because they are honoring the team's 50th anniversary. Bears and Vikings players have brought up concerns that because the field hasn't been maintained, the artificial turf will be as hard as concrete. Imagine if a star-Bear gets hurt because of the field. Can you say boycott, NFL? The Bears need to win at Minnesota and if the Packers lose in New England, the Bears will clinch the NFC&nbsp;North. The Vikings will not have Brett Favre or Tavaris Jackson (and possibly Adrian Peterson). They will be going with an unproven third-string QB who has never played in cold weather (he's from Alabama-Birmingham). The Packers may play without Aaron Rodgers, their star&nbsp;QB. Chicago fans, we may have a playoff bound Bears team after Monday night. If they lose to the Vikings, oh man.</p><p><strong>Kicker</strong>: I&nbsp;am <a href="http://www.wbez.org/blog/justin-kaufmann/caption-contest-did-crooks-send-chicago-comic-robert-buscemi-message">just a huge fan of this post</a> - my friend Robert Buscemi is a stand-up comic in Chicago. My friend Adam Witt was listening to his CD&nbsp;in his car. The car was broken into and the CD&nbsp;player was stolen.&nbsp;The crooks ejected the CD&nbsp;and left it. Adam snapped the photo. Rejected by criminals, worst way to bomb, Buscemi:</p><p style="text-align: center;"><img height="607" width="450" title="" alt="" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/blog/insert-image/2010-December/2010-12-17/buscemi-captioncontest-450x607.jpg" /></p><p>&nbsp;</p></p> Fri, 17 Dec 2010 15:09:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/blog/justin-kaufmann/too-much-news-week-i-cant-wait-til-next-week-when-everyone-phones-it Chicago's Department of Cultural Affairs is dismantled as 29 are laid off http://www.wbez.org/blog/jim-derogatis/chicagos-department-cultural-affairs-dismantled-29-are-laid <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/Mike Orlove_0034.jpg" alt="" /><p><p style="text-align: center;"><img style="width: 480px; height: 110px;" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/blog/insert-image/2010-December/2010-12-15/DCA Medium Header.png" alt="" /></p><p><strong>UPDATED&nbsp;11:30 A.M. THURSDAY. (SEE&nbsp;NEW&nbsp;MATERIAL&nbsp;BELOW.)</strong></p><p>While the Mayor&rsquo;s Office of Special Events has been spearheading the drive to privatize the city&rsquo;s biggest free music festivals in Grant Park, the Daley Administration has been dismantling the Department of Cultural Affairs, which has been responsible for the far more rewarding free concerts in Millennium Park and countless other worthy events annually at the Chicago Cultural Center.</p> <p>Twenty employees at Cultural Affairs were laid off on Friday, including many key programmers. This brings to a total of 29 the number of employees eliminated at the department since October, according to city spokesman Peter Scales of the Office of Budget and Management.</p><p>These losses effectively leave legendary and long-running Cultural Affairs chief Lois Weisberg overseeing a shell of a department, and raise questions about whether the city will able to present much-lauded events such as the World Music Festival, SummerDance, and Downtown Sound/New Music Mondays at the level they&rsquo;ve been offered, if at all, in 2011 and beyond.</p><p style="text-align: center;"><img width="255" height="316" title="" alt="" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/blog/insert-image/2010-December/2010-12-15/Orlove Caption_0.jpg" /></p><p>Among those who lost their city jobs: Cultural Affairs programmer Michael Orlove, the man most responsible for the events cited above, and whose work has been effusively praised by WBEZ (<a href="../../../../../episode-segments/michael-orlove-keeps-chicago-alive-music">&ldquo;Michael Orlove Keeps Chicago Alive with Music&rdquo;</a>), the Chicago Tribune (<a href="http://leisureblogs.chicagotribune.com/turn_it_up/2009/12/chicagoan-of-year-in-music-michael-orlove.html">&ldquo;Man of the Year in Music, 2009&rdquo;</a>), the Reader (<a href="http://www.chicagoreader.com/TheBlog/archives/2007/05/03/michael-orlove-missing-man/">&ldquo;Michael Orlove, the missing man&rdquo;</a>), and just about every other news and arts organization in town.</p><p>Orlove declined to comment for this story. Weisberg rejected several requests for an interview, and Cultural Affairs spokeswoman Karen Vaughan deferred comment to Scales.</p> <p>&nbsp;&ldquo;Over the years Department of Cultural Affairs and Chicago Tourism Fund employees have worked together to accomplish the many important goals the city has related to cultural affairs and tourism&mdash;promoting celebration of the arts, serving the people and institutions that create and sustain them, and marketing the city&rsquo;s cultural resources to a worldwide audience,&quot;&nbsp;Scales wrote in an email late Thursday night.</p> <p>&ldquo;However, it is important for the city to ensure that there is a separation between the two entities, as one is a city department and the other is a separate non-profit organization.&rdquo;</p> <p>Scales asserted that the music and arts programming previously handled by the Department of Cultural Affairs will not be hurt by the shift.</p> <p>&ldquo;The following functions will be transferred to the Chicago Tourism Fund, effective January 1, 2011: visual/public art; tourism; cultural programs and grants; events, production, and retail; and some finance/administration.&nbsp; Therefore, the 20 city positions that currently perform those functions in the budget have been eliminated, and a commensurate amount of funding is being provided to the CTF so that CTF can hire CTF employees to perform those functions&hellip; Because these functions and the commensurate funding are not being eliminated, but rather being transferred to the CTF, there will be no impact on current initiatives, including Downtown Sound, World Music Festival, Summer Dance, etc. In fact, this shifting of personnel should go unnoticed by residents and event participants.&rdquo;</p> <p>But several sources knowledgeable about these events and other inititiatives by the Department of Cultural Affairs are extremely dubious about that claim. So what&rsquo;s really going on here?</p> <p><a href="../../../../../blog/jim-derogatis/are-political-power-struggle-and-sweetheart-deal-fueling-citys-push-privatize-sum">As outlined in this blog last week</a>, a political turf war seems to be underway as the Mayor&rsquo;s Office of Special Events prepares to merge with the Department of Cultural Affairs. Cultural Affairs chief Weisberg was to have been in charge of the newly combined department through the waning days of the Daley administration, with the woman now serving as the executive director of the Mayor's Office of Special Events, Daley&rsquo;s <strike>goddaughter</strike> Megan McDonald, answering to her. <strong>(CORRECTION; SEE&nbsp;NOTE&nbsp;BELOW.)</strong></p> <p>But McDonald and her office have suffered the loss of only one job in recent lay-offs, even as the privatization effort is set to eliminate the major function of many of its employees. Meanwhile, Weisberg has been stripped of many of her most valuable staffers, as well as many of the department&rsquo;s functions and resources.</p> <p style="text-align: center;"><img style="width: 473px; height: 301px;" title="" alt="" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/blog/insert-image/2010-December/2010-12-15/Weisberg McDonald.jpg" /></p> <p>From McDonald down through the ranks, many of the employees in the Mayor&rsquo;s Office of Special Events are not only exceptionally well-paid, but especially well-connected, as evidenced by the number of those staffers who appeared on the so-called &ldquo;clout list&rdquo; that was a centerpiece in the trial of Daley patronage aide Robert Sorich.</p> <p>While the ax is falling throughout the city as officials grapple with a $655 million budget deficit this year, cost-cutting does not seem to have been the primary impetus for gutting Cultural Affairs. Some sources say that a reorganization has been pending for some time stemming from the so-called &ldquo;<a href="http://encyclopedia.chicagohistory.org/pages/1138.html">Shakman Decrees</a>&rdquo; crafted by the courts to eliminate political hiring in the city, and prohibiting city employees from supervising or working directly with employees of not-for-profits and using funds raised by those organizations.</p> <p>Yet the Shakman decrees have been in effect for years, and there is no obvious reason why the city would have to make these changes now.</p> <p>Many of the events programmed by Cultural Affairs were funded with money raised from corporate donors through the not-for-profit Chicago Tourism Fund. Despite Scales' claim, sources say that only a handful of staffers laid off from Cultural Affairs have been offered jobs at that not-for-profit, while some others are just facing the unemployment line. But many union employees merely have been reassigned to other city departments, which will not result in savings for the city budget.</p><p>According to Scales, &quot;These are the 20 positions moving from DCA to CTF: 2 Web Authors; 4 Program Directors; 6 Production Assistants; 1 Supervising Production Assistant;<br />1 Project Coordinator; 2 Curator of Exhibits; 2 Cultural Affairs Coordinator II; 1 Cultural Affairs Coordinator I; 1 Executive Director, Office of Tourism. To be clear, these position reductions are separate and unrelated to the 13 DCA positions eliminated as part of the department merger (which included nine layoffs, three vacancy eliminations, and one transfer to Procurement Services)... Next year, CTF will be responsible to Department Cultural Affairs and Special Events, as they are today, for performing those functions to the City&rsquo;s satisfaction.&quot;</p><p>Yet this seems to contradict the very reason for the lay-offs, if they were indeed required under Shakman:&nbsp;The new Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events cannot supervise the workers at a not-for-profit under the law as written.</p><p>Whether the new arrangement can produce any events of the quality of those coming from Cultural Affairs in the past remains to be seen. But there is little doubt that the city has just blown up one of the very few departments that seemed to be working--and the only one that truly cared about music and the arts in Chicago.</p><p>&nbsp;</p><p style="text-align: center;"><img style="width: 434px; height: 371px;" title="" alt="" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/blog/insert-image/2010-December/2010-12-15/DCA org chart.gif" /></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><sup><strong><em><sub>Departmental chart of the Chicago Department of Cultural Affairs</sub></em><br /></strong></sup></p><p>&nbsp;</p><p><strong><u>Earlier reports in this blog about privatizing the city festivals and the battle between the Mayor&rsquo;s Office of Special Events and the Department of Cultural Affairs:</u></strong></p><p><a href="../../../../../blog/jim-derogatis/nope-they-won%E2%80%99t-have-remain-free%E2%80%A6-and-answers-other-questions-about-privatizing-c">Dec. 14: Nope, they won&rsquo;t have to remain free&hellip; and answers to other questions about privatizing the city music festivals</a></p> <p><a href="../../../../../blog/jim-derogatis/city-festivals-chief-responds-blogs-reporting-push-privatization">Dec. 7: City festivals chief responds to this blog&rsquo;s reporting on the push for privatization</a></p> <p><a href="../../../../../blog/jim-derogatis/are-political-power-struggle-and-sweetheart-deal-fueling-citys-push-privatize-sum">Dec. 6: Are a political power struggle and a sweetheart deal fueling the city's push to privatize the summer music festivals?</a></p> <p><a href="../../../../../blog/jim-derogatis/psst-hey-buddy-wanna-buy-city-festival">Nov. 22: Psst! Hey, buddy: Wanna buy a city festival?</a></p><p>&nbsp;</p><p><strong>CORRECTION, 11:20 a.m. Thursday:&nbsp;</strong>Though half a dozen people who work for or close to Megan McDonald have referred to the executive director of the Mayor's Office of Special Events as the mayor's goddaughter, she has emailed me to correct that information: &quot;To clarify yet another piece of misinformation printed in your article, referenced on NPR and now reported by Chicagoist... I am not, nor have I ever been, the goddaughter of the Mayor. I have two wonderful godparents who have absolutely no relation to the Daley Family. In fact, they do not even live in Chicago or the State of Illinois. They are family members of mine who live in Colorado and St. Louis, respectively. I have no idea where this rumor is coming from, or who your incredibly misguided 'source' is, but this is absolutely incorrect information that I would like to see clarified. Thank You.&quot;</p><p>McDonald is, however, a close personal friend of the Daley family who, as reported earlier, attended the same high school and college as the mayor's daughter, which may be the source of this common misperception. I&nbsp;regret the error.</p><p><strong>UPDATE:&nbsp;</strong>Several readers with contacts in the Department of Cultural Affairs have spoken with employees who were laid off but offered new jobs with the Tourism Fund. To clarify:&nbsp;By no means have all of the people who lost their city jobs been rehired. Peter Scales of the Budget Office wrote the following this morning in response to my questions attempting to clarify this yesterday:</p><p>&quot;As I explained, the funding for those 20 previous City positions is being shifted to CTF. But it is entirely up to the CTF who they will hire in their organization. Those who were laid off from DCA are certainly able to apply for those CTF positions, but I don't believe that entire process has concluded yet in these few days since the announcement last week. I'm sure you understand that hiring decisions made by outside entities cannot in any way be influenced by the City. The City has the right to ensure the services CTF must perform are done to the City's satisfaction, but who CTF chooses to hire to perform those functions is entirely up to them, and the City has no say in the matter.&quot;</p></p> Thu, 16 Dec 2010 10:00:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/blog/jim-derogatis/chicagos-department-cultural-affairs-dismantled-29-are-laid Department of Cultural Affairs #2 to retire http://www.wbez.org/blog/city-room-blog/department-cultural-affairs-2-retire <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/Janet_Carl_Smith.jpg" alt="" /><p><p style="text-align: center;"><img style="width: 309px; height: 465px;" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/blog/insert-image/2010-November/2010-11-22/Janet_Carl_Smith.jpg" alt="" title="" /></p><p style="text-align: left;">Chicago arts will lose one of its best friends Dec. 30 with retirement of Janet Carl Smith, Deputy Commissioner of the Department of Cultural Affairs (DCA). Smith is stepping down after 32-years in city government, initially working with the Chicago Public Library before the DCA came into existence under Mayor Harold Washington.</p><p>With her signature salt-and-pepper hair, Ms. Smith for years has been the highly-visible eyes and ears of Cultural Affairs at theaters, galleries, museums and concert halls as well as at various meetings, forums and seminars. Smith reports to DCA Commissioner Lois Weisberg, who is expected to tender her resignation to Chicago's new mayor next spring, as will all department chieftans.</p><p>The new Hizzoner may keep some veterans in place, or make new choices for the top administrative posts. Thus, in six months the Department of Cultural Affairs could be without its two most senior and most dedicated leaders. Smith says she won't disappear, but will continue to work with DCA as an advisor.<br />&nbsp;</p></p> Tue, 23 Nov 2010 13:33:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/blog/city-room-blog/department-cultural-affairs-2-retire