Cultural Advisory Council October 17, 2012 Meeting Minutes

Meeting minutes were approved at the Cultural Advisory Council Meeting on Tuesday, February 5, 2013 at the Chicago Cultural Center's 5th Floor Millennium Park Room, 4-5pm.



Cultural Advisory Council ("CAC") Members: Chair Nora Daley, Vice Chair Marj Halperin, Anita Blanchard, Homer Hans Bryant, Juan A. Chavez, Antonia Contro, Jay Franke, Jeanne Gang, Theaster Gates Jr., Sandra P. Guthman, Mary Ittelson, Ra Joy, Eileen LaCario, Shirley R. Madigan, Diana Martinez, Sheila O'Grady, Mike Reed, Deborah F. Rutter, Cari B. Sacks, Jane M. Saks, Michael P. Thornton, Howard Tullman and Ernest Wong.

Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events ("DCASE") Staff: Commissioner Michelle T. Boone, David Kennedy, Jewel Malone, Mary May, David McDermott, Matt Nielson, Sue Vopicka and Angel Ysaguirre.

Other: Melissa Cherry, Vice President, Cultural Tourism and Neighborhoods, Choose Chicago; Mario Rossero, Director of Arts, CPS Department of Arts Education, Office of Curriculum and Instruction; Paul Sznewajs, Executive Director, Ingenuity Incorporated; and Gail Lord, President, Lord Cultural Resources.


Nora Daley called the meeting to order and asked the CAC members and DCASE staff present to introduce themselves.  The minutes from the June 6, 2012, CAC meeting were unanimously approved.

DCASE Chief of Staff Dave McDermott stated that the department had recently completed its annual report for 2011, the first such report in over a decade. He gave an overview of DCASE's budget for 2013, stating that the department's annual budget was increased 9% to $31.9 million; and of that $1 million was allocated for the implementation of the Chicago Cultural Plan 2012. The budget also includes funds for a five-day Taste of Chicago, some remodeling of the Chicago Cultural Center as well as the move of DCASE staff from City Hall to the Chicago Cultural Center. No new positions were requested and there will be no layoffs. With a few more hires, the department will be fully staffed. Dave stated that the department's budget hearing would be held on October 22, 2012, at 9am and invited interested CAC members to attend.

Nora Daley recognized the guests in attendance: Melissa Cherry, Vice President, Cultural Tourism and Neighborhoods, Choose Chicago; Mario Rossero, Director of Arts, CPS Department of Arts Education, Office of Curriculum and Instruction; Paul Sznewajs, Executive Director, Ingenuity Incorporated; and Gail Lord, President, Lord Cultural Resources.

Nora stated that the Chicago Cultural Plan 2012 was unveiled on October 15, 2012, and that DCASE collaborated with the Chicago Public Schools ("CPS") on a new Arts Education Plan as the cornerstone of the Chicago Cultural Plan 2012. She stated that the issue of arts education quickly rose to the top during the public engagement process of the development of the Chicago Cultural Plan 2012 and that the Chicago Public Schools really stepped up quickly and worked in tandem with principals, teachers and parents to create the Arts Education Plan.

Commissioner Boone thanked the members of the CAC for their support during the planning process of the Chicago Cultural Plan 2012. She stated that a new cultural plan was one of the recommendations of Mayor Emanuel's Arts and Culture Transition Team, which was co-chaired by Marj Halperin and included CAC members Ra Joy, Antonio Contro, Mary Ittelson and Eileen LaCario. Commissioner Boone acknowledged DCASE staff Jewel Malone, Matt Nielson and Julie Burros for their work on the Chicago Cultural Plan 2012, which she said will provide a roadmap to help strengthen Chicago's cultural sector.

Ra Joy stated that Arts Alliance Illinois provided data for the latest Arts & Economic Prosperity study of the Americans for the Arts. The study finds that arts organizations and their audiences contribute at least $2.2 billion annually to the Chicago economy, showing that the arts are a strong economic driver for our city.  

Gail Lord stated that never in 31 years of cultural consulting has she seen a city have such a broad connection with the public in crafting a cultural plan, nor a city as courageous as Chicago - to go to the people, in every community, completely openly, to ask what culture means to them.

Commissioner Boone stated that the hard work - implementation of the plan - really begins now and that DCASE would love to have the members of the CAC help with the implementation of the plan to make the recommendations of the plan a reality.

Commissioner Boone said that Don Welsh, CEO of Choose Chicago, spoke at the last CAC meeting about Choose Chicago's renewed focus on positioning Chicago nationally and globally as a cultural tourism destination and reaching Mayor Rahm Emanuel's goal of attracting 50 million annual visitors to Chicago by the year 2020. She then introduced Melissa Cherry, Choose Chicago's Vice President of Cultural Tourism and Neighborhoods, who previously served as the Vice President of External Affairs for the Chicago History Museum and was instrumental in the rebranding of the Chicago Historical Society into the Chicago History Museum. Commissioner Boone also said that Melissa has a background in tourism, having served with both the California Travel and Tourism Commission and the Los Angeles Convention & Visitors Bureau.

Melissa Cherry stated that she is currently involved in developing a cultural tourism strategy for Chicago and is out talking to people, gathering insights and setting priorities. She also said that Choose Chicago is changing its membership model to incorporate tiers of membership. A basic membership will begin at $99. The new membership program embraces Chicago's cultural community, increasing access by promoting Chicago's cultural and neighborhood resources. Membership will be much more attainable for local chambers of commerce, planning associations, etc., thus increasing neighborhood tourism.

Commissioner Boone then asked Mario Rossero and Paul Sznewajs to talk about the Chicago Public Schools Arts Education Plan. Mario Rossero spoke of the parallels between the Chicago Public Schools Arts Education Plan and the Chicago Cultural Plan 2012 in the public engagement process. CPS honored neighborhood and community input as well. The Arts Education Plan seeks to make the arts a core subject by increasing the amount of instruction time and identify and activate an "Arts Liaison" in every school for improved coordination and communication in the arts. It seeks to bring the arts to every child, in every grade, in every school.

Paul Sznewajs thanked DCASE and said that it couldn't be overstated that the town hall meetings conducted during the Chicago Cultural Plan 2012 public engagement process colored CPS's planning process and the groundswell of interest in arts education led CPS down this path. He said that it was time to sweep up the confetti and roll up our sleeves as there is a lot of work to be done.

Homer Bryant said that he would like to be included in the work of the Arts Education Plan and that the Plan is so needed. Ernie Wong said that he too was excited about the Arts Education Plan. He has children and knows that arts education programs already exist at some schools at the elementary level. He hopes to see those programs offered at the high school level as well.

Anita Blanchard commented that the minimum staffing requirement mentioned in the Arts Education Plan seems low. She also said she hopes that the Arts Liaison will communicate with teachers, students and other staff.

Mario Rossero responded that the staffing for the arts education programs would be about setting standards versus focusing on a minimum requirement and that staffing would be based on enrollment numbers. He also said that the work of the Arts Liaison would include communicating with teachers, students as well as other staff members of the schools.

Mary Ittelson said the Arts Education Plan is a dream come true and said she admired the level of cooperation that took place in such a short period of time. Paul Sznewajs agreed and said that DCASE and CPS will continue to work together.  Jane Saks said that she's heard from a lot of people who hope that the Arts Education Plan provides systematic change.  She said the Plan offers a real vision for such change and suggested it could serve as a national model. She asked what kind of conversations could be had nationwide. Paul Sznewajs said that they were already engaged in those conversations and has found that Chicago is behind and will have to play catch-up.

Gail Lord commented that there was something unique and magical about the early Chicago Cultural Plan 2012 public meetings that were held. People continually listed the arts in education as their number one priority. She said that it was an organic, real process; one that she had never seen before.

Eileen LaCario said that at the theater constituent meetings she attends, people say  "everyone knows we need arts education but we know we won't get it, so let's look at what we can get." She said the devil is in the implementation.  She also agreed that the Arts Education Plan was sorely needed and that it would be a great way to catapult us over the cities we are currently lagging behind.

Sheila O'Grady stated that she recently had dinner with the President of the Joyce Foundation where the idea of having the people fund the arts was mentioned. She said that seeking funding for the arts from the major foundations that already fund the arts is going after the low hanging fruit and that presentations should be made to smaller foundations that don't traditionally fund the arts.

Sandra Guthman said that we can't squander the enthusiasm everyone has right now for the Cultural Plan and that we should set up a sequence of short-term wins, spaced out over 18 months, to give us time to work on the bigger initiatives of the Plan - that way, the energy level doesn't drop, it is maintained.

Eileen LaCario said that it is so hard to believe the CPS Plan is real. She also said that the Chicago Cultural Plan will increase cultural tourism, and that having a Vice President of Cultural Tourism is a good step.

Howard Tullman said that the initiatives in the Cultural Plan costing under $50,000 could be funded by having everyone in the city give a small amount.  Students could work together to raise $5,000 - $10,000 and that we could complete more of the initiatives of the Cultural Plan this way. He said that crowdfunding is a thermometer and helps to continually refresh the energy. He said that people will want to help if a citywide structure were set up where people could find a few items to give $25 towards.

Marj Halperin said that ongoing marketing would be key. Howard Tullman suggested that Mayor Emanuel could take ten of the initiatives and present them via a social media campaign.

Antonia Contro agreed with Howard Tullman's idea and said that giving money this way would be a democratic process.  It would allow the broader city to participate, not just the wealthy. Ra Joy said that such a campaign would help with those who say "It's a great plan but how will you pay for it?"

Eileen LaCario said that the idea of crowdfunding could have some legs as she's seen people passing through Millennium Park only to stumble upon a free concert in progress. She said that many of those people would want to participate.

Nora Daley stressed that the Cultural Plan is not a DCASE plan, it's Chicago's plan, and that the City won't be able to fund all the initiatives, but we will have conversations with other organizations on ways the City can help.

Eileen LaCario asked how the CAC members could find projects to move this forward. She suggested that a database could be helpful and that everyone should be working from this Plan.

Commissioner Boone asked the members to share their ideas with DCASE and that DCASE staff would reach out to them during the implementation phase. She then introduced Angel Ysaguirre, Deputy Commissioner of Arts Programming. Angel gave an overview of Fashion Focus, stating that the final event would take place at the Chicago Cultural Center on Sunday, October 21. He said that October is Chicago Artists Month, and that the World Music Festival, held September 21-27, attracted 18,000 people at 45 different concerts. He said that the Arts Programming division was in the process of hiring two more staff members to complete the team, and that Dylan Rice and David Chavez, who served on the Mayor's Arts and Culture Transition Team, had recently joined the Creative Industries - Music staff. Angel asked the CAC members to reach out to him with any ideas they have for programming.

David Kennedy, Deputy Director of Events Programming, also gave a programming update, stating that Chicagoween on Daley Plaza would take place October 26-30; the Christmas tree lighting ceremony would take place on Wednesday, November 21; and concerts featuring CPS and private school students would take place every day in December in City Hall.

Matt Nielson, Deputy Commissioner of Planning and Operations, said that Caroling at Cloud Gate in Millennium Park would begin on November 23 with three successive Friday concerts and that the Millennium Park Ice Rink would open November 16.

Commissioner Boone said that Sunday, October 21, would mark the 100th anniversary of the Maxwell Street Market. She said the Market is open every Sunday from 7am - 3pm and is an experience not to be missed featuring live music, more activity and more life than ever before. She said that it is a significant part of Chicago's history and has been turned around into a fun, family-friendly place.

Commissioner Boone asked if the CAC members had any announcements of their own. Nora Daley mentioned Michael Patrick Thornton and Gift Theatre's currently running show "Dirty." Commissioner Boone mentioned that Kevin Coval's book, "More S**t Chief Keef Don't Like," would be released at Young Chicago Authors on Friday, October 19.

Sandra Guthman stated that Expo Chicago was a big success but needed more shoppers. She said that the sponsors signed up for many years, and that the event would take place September 19-22 in 2013 at Navy Pier. She said that Chicago only had nine months' notice, while most cities need a year or a year and a half. She complimented Jeanne Gang's great design and said people were saying it was the most elegant fair they've attended.

Nora Daley thanked everyone for attending and adjourned the meeting. 

Respectfully submitted, Sue Vopicka