WBEZ | CityArts http://www.wbez.org/tags/cityarts Latest from WBEZ Chicago Public Radio en "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 Rahm, Boeing and the Arts: a modest proposal http://www.wbez.org/blog/onstagebackstage/2011-04-12/rham-boeing-and-arts-modest-proposal-84952 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/blog/photo/2011-April/2011-04-12/109355421.jpg" alt="" /><p><p style="text-align: center;"><img alt="" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/blog/insert-image/2011-April/2011-04-12/109355421.jpg" title="" width="364" height="594"></p><p>Dear Mayor-Elect Emanuel:</p><p>Perhaps you already are familiar with the <a href="http://www.cityofchicago.org/city/en/depts/dca/provdrs/grants/svcs/city_arts_applicationsummary.html">CityArts Program</a>, but if not I want to tell you about it and suggest something wonderful you could do to make it secure. Over the years I've been an arts business reporter in Chicago, one of my favorite stories to report has been the annual grants made to local cultural organizations through CityArts, initiated in 1979 through the Department of Cultural Affairs (now <a href="http://www.cityofchicago.org/city/en/depts/dca.html">Cultural Affairs and Special Events</a>). 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 million or $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 smaller 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, in all the years I’ve reported on the CityArts Program, I’ve never heard a complaint that it’s unfair or clout-connected. Hey, $3,000 hardly is enough money to waste your clout on—if you have any clout. You don’t need to know someone in the Hall to get a CityArts grant. 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 32 years. It's hardly a notch in the total outlays of the City of Chicago, but CityArts has had major impact. But the diversity and basic fairness of this program have not protected it from budget cuts. Since the economy tanked three years ago, CityArts has been reduced by 50% and currently is funded at $500,000 a year.</p><p>But now, right now, Mr. Mayor-Elect, you and your advisors 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>All the key people to analyze and recommend this idea already are in place among the 13 members of your transition-team Committee on Arts and Culture. The line-up includes representatives of several CityArts recipients and also representatives of several major arts and culture funders, among them the head honcho for the Boeing Company's corporate giving. Hey, there's an idea: the Boeing CityArts Grants! What say Chicago and Boeing 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? What about Chicago Community Trust or the MacArthur Foundation? Would they partner on CityArts? How about a giant Chicago general contractor? The Pepper Construction CityArts Trust is a little long, but I'd take it!</p><p>The point, Mr. Mayor-Elect, the hope is that you, your transition team and the City of Chicago might embrace this proposal and, in the words of Jean-Luc Piccard, "Make it so!"&nbsp;&nbsp;<br> &nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;</p></p> Tue, 12 Apr 2011 16:14:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/blog/onstagebackstage/2011-04-12/rham-boeing-and-arts-modest-proposal-84952