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.
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.
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.