Cultural Advisory Council November 16, 2022 Meeting Minutes

Meeting minutes were approved at the Cultural Advisory Council Meeting on Tuesday, March 7, 2023 at the Chicago Cultural Center, Millennium Park Room, 5th Floor North, 3pm.



Cultural Advisory Council ("CAC") Members:

Present: Amina Dickerson, Vice-Chair; Robert Faust, Brooke Flanagan, Robert Gomez, Kevin Iega Jeff, Blake-Anthony Johnson, Omar Torres-Kortright, William Michel, Margaret Murphy-Webb, Coya Paz, Silvia Rivera, Kaoru Watanabe, Tanner Woodford

Absent: Chair; Alison Cuddy, Juan Díes, Esther Grimm, Tracie Hall, Akilah Halley, Tempestt Hazel, Tonika Lewis Johnson, Ginger Lane, Josephine Lee, Cesáreo Moreno, Debra Yeppa-Pappan, Claire C. Rice, Edra Soto, Vivian Teng

Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events ("DCASE") Staff: Commissioner Erin Harkey, First Deputy Jennifer Johnson Washington, Amanda Carlson, Kalena Chevalier, Gabriel Godwin, Betsey Grais, Madeline Long, Jamey Lundblad, Nina Melendez, Lydia Ross, Tara Vock, Nancy Villafranca, Melanie Wang, Tenisha Wilkins



I. Welcome and Introduction

CAC Chair Amina Dickerson called the meeting to order at 3:07pm. A quorum of Council members were not immediately deemed present, however; Amina proceeded with business.

The approval of the August 9th, 2022 CAC meeting minutes were delayed due to a quorum needing to be present. presented and subsequently approved by unanimous vote. The meeting agenda was briefly reviewed.

No requests for public comment were received.


II. DCASE Leadership Updates

Commissioner Erin Harkey shared her gratitude toward the DCASE and CAC teams. She noted DCASE’ start in evaluating its programs and operations in the effort to create a more effective and equitable agency. DCASE embarked on a new direction for cultural policy in Chicago forging partnerships with fellow City agencies to embed the arts in key initiatives across the city. DCASE has expanded support for artists, creative workers and businesses, significantly improving arts equity citywide through grants, public art and other cultural programs. Commissioner Harkey then shared some 2022 grants highlights which include:

  • Increased direct support for the Arts sector from $2.7M to $12.7M
  • General operating support to non-profit arts organizations through CityArts increased 223% with average award at $22K compared to $6,700 in 2021
  • Individual Arts Program (IAP) increased its average grant size by 60%
  • Overall granted more than 564 grants across 7 programs, a 25% increase over 2021
  • 60% of IAP grantees are BIPOC compared to 38% in 2016
  • Grants to BIPOC-led organizations on south and west sides increased by 5%
  • 75% of grant review panelists across all programs were BIPOC
  • Community outreach and awareness efforts paid off with 690 new applicants, 40% of total applicant pool
  • Grants were awarded to artists and arts organizations in all 50 wards in 2022, compared to 35 wards in 2016

DCASE partnered with the Office of Equity and Racial Justice through the Together We Heal Creative Place program which recognized the importance of the arts, promoting healing, health and safety for communities. DCASE awarded $5.5M to 48 grantees whose projects will support artists in designing and implementing projects that will transform our neighborhoods.

DCASE expanded its collaboration of City agencies working with DPD on several projects including the We Will Chicago citywide planning process; artist-in-residence programs across the city, including one with the Mayor’s Office for People with Disabilities, and the Chicago Public Library’s Legler Branch. DCASE also supported the Chicago Park District to increase cultural offerings such as Night Out in the Parks. DCASE also continued its partnership with the Chicago Department of Transportation’s Open Boulevards, with street activations that transform Chicago’s historic boulevards into community spaces.

DCASE Public Art continues to see record growth in 2022 committing over $12M in public art to all Invest South/West neighborhoods which recently celebrated its 3-year anniversary. Commissioner Harkey noted the transformational work of this initiative and expressed her excitement to work with fellow City departments to see the plan to fruition. In addition, DCASE will deliver $3.5M in public art project to the O’Hare Terminal 5 project and has seen a record number of aldermanic menu supported public art projects in 2022.

Commissioner Harkey noted additional 2022 highlights including:

  • Summer festivals and events return
  • Record film production revenue with $630M in 2021 and $700M projected for 2022
  • Special Event permitting has permitted over 800 events

Priorities in 2023 include continuing the distribution of recovery funds to address the current and emergent needs of the cultural and tourism sectors, continuing collaborations with cultural partners and City agencies to promote new models and programs to expand audiences and participation in the arts. DCASE is also working to bring more public art and cultural programs to neighborhoods while increasing employment of artists and creative skilled workers; expand the cultural grants program providing support to cultural organizations and artists with a focus on underserved neighborhoods. DCASE is also committed to connecting with stakeholders in communities not currently participating in DCASE programs to increase awareness and opportunity.

  • Director of Cultural Grants, Melanie Wang provided an update on cultural grants programs, including Chicago Presents,CityArts, Individual Artist Program (IAP) and Neighborhood Access Program (NAP).

Deputy Commissioner of Programming, Nancy Villafranca provided an update on upcoming DCASE programming in late 2022 and into 2023, highlighting the following programs:

  • Holiday Tree Lighting Ceremony
  • Millennium Park Art Market
  • McCormick Tribune Ice Rink
  • Millennium Park Holiday Sing-Along
  • Chicago Cultural Center exhibitions
  • Buddy Store

Deputy Commissioner Villafranca noted the current Audience and Engagement Study for the Cultural Center which is being conducted to better structure residencies. She noted to CAC members that she will be reaching out for counsel.

Senior Strategist Amanda Carlson provided updates on We Will Chicago, the first Citywide planning process since 1966, a 10-year framework to enhance citywide equity and resiliency. Planning began in 2020 as a multi-year planning project. DPD led the public engagement process in collaboration with a consulting firm that joined 72 neighborhood events and festivals. This brought more visibility to the planning process and provided public comment with over 5k respondents.

DCASE will be commissioning 5 artist projects and is in the throes of contracting with two arts organizations and two individual.artists and one artist team.

The plan is slated to go to the Plan Commission for adoption in January 2023. Some highlights below:

  • We Will focuses on 8 pillars and unique in this way
  • Engagement process includes In-person and virtual options
  • Attended 72 neighborhood events
  • Collected more than 5,000 in person responses
  • Held 8 focus groups
  • 2 DCASE led workshops, 1-virtual, 1 in-person
  • Artist led engagement
  • DCASE is commissioning artist projects
  • Next steps: analyzing and adapting plans + goals, launching new artist projects, and working with DPD to support artist

Questions and Comments

CAC members shared the following feedback:

Q. How does the current DCASE budget compare to its counterparts'?
A. This budget puts us more in-line with our peer cities such as New York and Los Angeles, though still a bit behind in terms of total investment in the Arts.

Q. How are you thinking about goals in 2023?
A. We are committed to getting $10M in relief funds out the door in Q1 2023. There is a lot of evaluation work that needs to be done as well. As such, we will be conducting research and evaluation to build in an evaluation infrastructure for our programs.

Q. Are any substantive changes to the We Will Chicago arts & cultural pillar expected?
A. Yes.

Q. What is the average grant size for the Neighborhood Access Project?
A. The average grant amount for /NAP is $25k. There are also quite a few at $50k and some at $5k.


III. Performing Arts Community Engagement Overview

Senior Strategist Tara Vock provided an overview of the recent Performing Art Convening that took place at the Chicago Cultural Center in June 2022. The convening held 200+ participants of the performing arts community wherein the results of a needs assessment survey previously circulated were presented. The greatest needs identified were in the following four pillar areas:

1. Funding Opportunities

2. Marketing

3. Audience Development

4. Performance Space and Facilities.

DCASE followed up with a synopsis of all community feedback received at the convening and prepared additional information of DCASE programs and resources related to the four pillars. DCASE then held a second convening focusing on marketing and audience development for the performing arts community. DCASE launched a City Marketing Access and Assets Resource Guide that aggregated City agency marketing resources available to the community.

Next steps include hosting a zoom meeting with key marketing staff from all City agency partners.

Steppenwolf Executive Director, Brooke Flanagan: shared the following 3 tactics for performing arts community improvements:

1. Markets/PR campaign

2. Transaction focused website with unified calendar

3. Leverage City assets/increase visibility for out of house campaign

Questions and Comments

CAC members shared the following questions:

Q. How are you going to pay for this?
A. There is not a defined budget

Q. How do we measure where we are now to better quantify yielded result.
A. Data collection.

Q. Is there a target timeline?
A. We hope to have everything launched in 2023.

Members commented that smaller organizations should be connected to larger ones to help respond to socioeconomic factors.


IV. Next Steps

A quorum was deemed present and the approval of the August 9th, 2022 CAC meeting minutes were presented and subsequently approved by unanimous vote.

The next CAC meeting date is TBD.


V. Adjourn

The meeting adjourned at 4:30pm for a private tour of the temporary Luftwerk Exhibit at the Cultural Center.