Cultural Advisory Council February 5, 2013 Meeting Minutes

Meeting minutes were approved at the Cultural Advisory Council Meeting on Tuesday, June 4 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, Carol Adams, Anita Blanchard, Homer Hans Bryant, Antonia Contro, Kevin Coval, Baraka de Soleil, Jeanne Gang, Theaster Gates Jr., Sandra P. Guthman, Mary Ittelson, Ra Joy, Diana Martinez, Sheila O'Grady, Mike Reed, Rebeccah Sanders, Roell Schmidt, Michael P. Thornton, Howard Tullman and Ernest Wong.

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


Nora Daley called the meeting to order and introduced the three new CAC members – Dr. Carol Adams, Baraka de Soleil and Rebeccah Sanders. She asked the CAC members and DCASE staff present to introduce themselves. The minutes from the October 17, 2012, CAC meeting were unanimously approved.

Commissioner Boone stated that it was one year ago that DCASE launched the process to create the Chicago Cultural Plan 2012. She welcomed the new members of the CAC and acknowledged Baraka de Soleil as having attended every public meeting during the community engagement phase of the Cultural Plan. She gave an action update of the first 100 days since the official launch of the Cultural Plan stating that the Plan contains 241initiatives, 20 percent of which had been achieved to date and 45 percent of which are targeted to be completed by the end of 2013.

Commissioner Boone said that DCASE’s action agenda focuses on four areas: Creative Industries, Arts Education (which were both identified as priorities of Mayor Emanuel’s Transition Plan), Cultural Districts and Cultural Tourism.

Anita Blanchard asked how best the CAC members could get involved with the implementation of the Cultural Plan.  Commissioner Boone said that the CAC members could serve as a driver for the CPS Arts Education Plan. She said that members should tap into their knowledge bases – for example, Howard Tullman helped DCASE with crowdsourcing.  Commissioner Boone said that the members should review the Plan and find points of interest or areas that could support the work of their own organizations. She said that members should feel free to reach out to her or Julie Burros directly, attend one of DCASE’s weekly Cultural Plan Implementation meetings or have a member of DCASE make a presentation to their organizations.

Howard Tullman said that with regard to DCASE’s Cultural Tourism action focus, he had recently had difficulty researching cultural events that were happening on a particular weekend. He suggested that a collective portal should be created that would include information on the City’s libraries and parks along with other events.

Commissioner Boone gave an update on DCASE including the development of a Strategic Plan for the department and a new mission. She said that the creation of a strategic plan for DCASE was one of the initiatives identified by the Mayor’s Arts Transition team. She said that DCASE is working with the Civic Consulting Alliance to develop a plan to best support and deliver on the work of the Chicago Cultural Plan. She said that the Strategic Plan will give DCASE a solid foundation from which to work.

Commissioner Boone stated that the mission of DCASE is to enrich Chicago’s artistic vitality and cultural vibrancy. The Strategic Plan identifies four critical strategic objectives: foster a robust arts community; achieve global prominence; ensure that culture is accessible to all residents; and strengthen Chicago’s economy. She said that that is what DCASE is focused on and where we are headed.

Angel Ysaguirre gave an overview of new DCASE programs and upcoming events, including Juicebox, Wired Fridays, the 10th Annual Creative Chicago Expo, StoryCorps Chicago and Industry of the Ordinary

He stated that 40 children and 65 parents, grandparents and caregivers attended the first Juicebox program on February 1 at the Chicago Cultural Center and that the Chicago Department of Family and Support Services helped DCASE market the program. He also said that thanks to a partnership with the Chicago Park District, Juicebox would expand to a second location at the Austin Town Hall in April.

Angel said that Wired Fridays debuted in early January and is a series of LunchBreak concerts at the Chicago Cultural Center featuring DJs and electronic music with a dance floor for dancing.

Angel said that the Creative Chicago Expo would take place March 1 and 2 and feature 145 vendors that provide services in the arts and creative industries, 31 workshops and seminars and keynote speakers. He also said that the Industry of the Ordinary exhibition would close on February 17 and encouraged the members to visit the exhibit if they hadn’t already.

Commissioner Boone said that StoryCorps, the national nonprofit oral history organization, would launch a new program, StoryCorps Chicago, at the Chicago Cultural Center later this spring, providing the opportunity for anyone to record an interview with a loved one. She said that StoryCorps previously established recording booths in New York, San Francisco, Atlanta and now Chicago. She said that the Chicago Cultural Center welcomes hundreds of thousands of visitors annually, and StoryCorps Chicago will give Chicagoans and visitors from around the world the chance to capture their stories.

Angel Ysaguirre said that DCASE, along with the Elastic Arts Foundation and saki, recently launched a free monthly series featuring vinyl recordings, Off the Record: A Listening Party, the first of which was co-presented by the Elastic Arts Foundation in partnership with Theaster Gates and held at the University of Chicago’s Logan Center for the Arts. Angel said that Off the Record offers the opportunity to hear a new record, often in advance of its release.

Commissioner Boone said that in an effort to connect more with the creative industries, two new DCASE staff members had been hired. She said that the Chicago Cultural Plan demonstrated that four key industries – film, music, theater and culinary – would most benefit from the support of DCASE.

Ra Joy asked where DCASE was in the Strategic Plan process. Commissioner Boone replied that DCASE staff has been very involved in the process and that the plan would be released and adopted mid-March.

Commissioner Boone went on to say that DCASE was no longer a team divided into legacy Department of Cultural Affairs staff and legacy Mayor’s Office of Special Events staff – she said that all staff would be housed at the Chicago Cultural Center by the end of February.

Commissioner Boone stated the first quarter of the year was proving to be very important to DCASE. She said that DCASE’s work would be grounded by a new mission, clearly defined outcomes and four strategic objectives. She said that DCASE is in a strong place – even better than when she walked in the door. 

Marj Halperin stated that the DCASE team had done a great job tackling an overwhelming list of action items including the Strategic Plan, the Chicago Cultural Plan and bringing two teams together. Commissioner Boone thanked the members of the CAC for their continued support of the work of DCASE and asked if the members had any updates of their own.

Theaster Gates spoke about the new Washington Park Arts Incubator, opening March 8, with 10,000 square feet of studio space for artists-in-residence, a woodshop for design apprenticeship programming and additional program space for exhibitions and events. He said that the Washington Park Arts Incubator will provide a dedicated space for artists to grow professionally and build creative connections with the surrounding South Side community.

Michael Thornton said that to celebrate its 10th anniversary, The Gift Theatre recently produced “Ten,” a free festival of short plays written specifically for The Gift by artists whose work they have produced over the past ten years. He said that they were giving theater away for free and that the festival sold out with 100 people on the waiting list. He also said that The Gift Theatre partners with the Gale Street Inn for a bimonthly salon series and that 100 people attended the Great Gatsby Salon on January 22 despite the cold. 

Baraka de Soleil mentioned that as part of its spring 2013 diversity series, Audience Architects would present the conversation “Diversity: Then/Now” on March 10 at the Old Town School of Folk Music. He also stated that April is Chicago Dance Month and that the Audience Architects website would feature a listing of dance events throughout Chicago.

Ernie Wong stated that the Chicago Children’s Choir had recently completed a sold-out, 10-day tour of India that garnered extensive press.

Roell Schmidt spoke about the IN>TIME performance art festival, running through March, featuring both international and local artists exhibiting in 14 diverse venues across the city including the Chicago Cultural Center and Links Hall.

Carol Adams spoke about the upcoming opening festivities on February 9 for the exhibition Geoffrey and Carmen: A Memoir in Four Movements at the DuSable Museum. She said the evening would include a conversation with Geoffrey Holder & Carmen DeLavallade with a huge party to follow. 

Kevin Coval said that the Louder than a Bomb festival was celebrating its 13th season of presenting poets from every neighborhood with individual finals on March 6 and team finals on March 9.

Nora Daley thanked everyone for attending and adjourned the meeting. 

Respectfully submitted, Sue Vopicka