The Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events (DCASE) is dedicated to enriching Chicago’s artistic vitality and cultural vibrancy. This includes fostering the development of Chicago’s non-profit arts sector, independent working artists and for-profit arts businesses; providing a framework to guide the City’s future cultural and economic growth, via the 2012 Chicago Cultural Plan; marketing the City’s cultural assets to a worldwide audience; and presenting high-quality, free and affordable cultural programs for residents and visitors.



Creativity – Artistry and creativity are as fundamental as the air we breathe. Creativity is neither a luxury nor a recreation; it is how we become more human.


Advocacy – We are advocates and champions for arts and culture—and for the City of Chicago. We believe that Chicago—the birthplace of storefront theater, modern architecture, footwork, improv, poetry slams, Gospel music, House music, the urban Blues and more—is an arts powerhouse and a global cultural destination.


Diversity & Equity – We believe in the power of the arts to build community, inspire social change and bring fresh perspective to difficult and complex issues—including issues of race, ethnicity, class, gender identity and sexual orientation. We value established cultural institutions and emerging artists, equally.


Access – We believe that citizens benefit from free and open access to the arts and public celebrations. We are committed to ensuring that everyone in our city has equal access to both—regardless of income, address or disability.


Collaboration – We believe that two heads are better than one. To be effective, DCASE will collaborate with other City departments, Chicago’s creative communities, and civic and business leaders. Our work is interdependent.


Celebration – We present engaging programs that bring delight, awe, surprise and wonder to our audiences—while elevating Chicago’s unique identity. We activate the city and entertain residents and visitors alike with festive experiences. We celebrate Chicago.

Department Facts