Chicago’s Creative Industries

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2020 Year of Chicago Music

The Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events supports and promotes the city’s art, music, theater, and dance industries.


Chicago Poet Laureate Program

Mayor Lori E. Lightfoot, in coordination with the Chicago Public Library, Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events, and Poetry Foundation, is proud to announce the creation of the Chicago Poet Laureate program. The program comes from the advocacy of the city’s creative and civic communities. It aims to increase awareness of Chicago’s historic contributions to the literary arts while celebrating and honoring the efforts of Chicago’s working artists.

The Chicago Poet Laureate will serve a two-year term and will be awarded a grant of $50,000 ($25,000/year) for the commissioning of new poems and for the creation of a public program series, including programs for youth and students. The Poet Laureate will serve as an ambassador for the city’s literary and creative communities.

The Poet Laureate will be identified and named through a multi-phase nomination, application, and review process. Until January 18, the public is invited to submit nominees for Chicago Poet Laureate. Self-nominations will be accepted. Eligible nominees will then be invited to submit an application for the role.

The Laureate will be formally appointed in Spring 2023.



In support of Chicago’s thriving music industry, Mayor Lori E. Lightfoot and the Chicago Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events designated 2020-2021 as the “Year of Chicago Music” with an investment of $3.5 million to highlight its legacy, expanding its audience and strengthen its creative and cultural landscape with a focus on the south and west sides of the City. The initiative has garnered significant funding of $1.4 million from outside partners including an unprecedented donation of $500,000 from lead donor the Walder Foundation, along with the Chicago Community Trust, the Illinois Arts Council, the Gaylord and Dorothy Donnelley Foundation, Allstate and the Richard H. Driehaus Foundation, as well as sponsorship from the Chicago Transit Authority.


Theater and Dance

The Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events (DCASE) presents an ongoing performing arts series that showcases both emerging and established music, theater, dance and multi-disciplinary artists at the Chicago Cultural Center and other venues. Dedicated to capacity building in the arts, DCASE hires the artists and provides performance space as well as technical and marketing support.