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Meeting minutes were approved at the Cultural Advisory Council Meeting on Tuesday, December 3 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, Dr. Anita Blanchard, Homer Hans Bryant, Antonia Contro, Baraka de Soleil, Sandra P. Guthman, Mary Ittelson, Ra Joy, Eileen LaCario, Sheila O’Grady, Mike Reed, Deborah Rutter, Jane Saks, Rebeccah Sanders and Roell Schmidt.
Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events ("DCASE") Staff: Commissioner Michelle T. Boone, David Kennedy, Jamey Lundblad, Jewel Malone, David McDermott, Kenya Merritt, Matt Nielson, Sue Vopicka and Angel Ysaguirre.
Other: Beth White, Chicago Director, The Trust for Public Land
Nora Daley called the meeting to order and the minutes from the June 4, 2013, CAC meeting were unanimously approved.
Ms. Halperin said that she invited Beth White, Chicago Director of The Trust for Public Land, to make a presentation on The 606. She said that The Trust for Public Land, a national land conservation organization, is the lead private partner on the project and is supporting the planning and implementation process in partnership with the City of Chicago and the Chicago Park District. Ms. Halperin explained that she serves as the publicist for The 606. She said that the Bloomingdale Trail project had recently been rebranded as The 606. She said that it had for years been known as the Bloomingdale Trail because of the unused rail line that runs along Bloomingdale Avenue on the northwest side, but the name sometimes caused confusion as people wondered if the trail was located in Bloomington, Bloomingdale or was somehow affiliated with Bloomingdale’s department store. She said the name didn’t convey a park and transit system.
She went on to say that The 606 project was named for the zip code prefix Chicagoans share and that it will consist of five ground-level neighborhood parks, as well as an observatory, wheel-friendly event plaza, various art installations and other amenities. She made it clear that the actual trail part of the park will still be called the Bloomingdale Trail and will be transformed into a 2.7 mile elevated trail that will connect four Northwest Side Chicago communities and will serve as the centerpiece of the project, but the totality of the project, including the new access parks, will be called The 606.
While Beth White prepared her presentation, Commissioner Boone mentioned that the Chicago Tribune ran a great article on the project in August, and that copies would be included in the CAC members’ informational packets. She went on to say that the DCASE 2012 Annual Report had recently been completed and that the upcoming World Music Festival has received some phenomenal early press. She said that CAC member Mike Reed’s music venue Constellation had also received great recent press.
Commissioner Boone said that when new DCASE staff were hired last year in the Creative Industries – Music division, one of the first things they did was to create and plan for the inaugural Chicago Music Summit to take place on September 20, 2013. She said that the Summit will feature panels, workshops, concerts and networking opportunities with rapper/actor Common serving as the Keynote Speaker. She said that the response has been overwhelming, with over 1,000 registered participants, and that while registration was now closed for the industry panels, no reservations would be required to attend the many music showcases at the Chicago Cultural Center.
Sandra Guthman suggested that Chicago Music Summit brochures should be distributed at Expo Chicago, and Angel Ysaguirre said that that had already been done and that people were coming.
Beth White began her Power Point presentation and asked Angel Ysaguirre to join her in presenting the art portion of the project. Angel said that The 606 is a collaboration between the Chicago Park District, the Department of Housing and Economic Development, the Chicago Department of Transportation, DCASE, The Trust for Public Land and donors.
Beth White said that the addition of art will elevate the whole project. Angel said that the Bloomingdale Trail has been the site of a wide variety of public art installations during the last 30 years, and that unfortunately, due to the needs of engineering or providing construction access to the Bloomingdale, existing murals can’t remain in place. They will, however, be documented in photographs on The 606 website. Angel said that usually with large-scale projects like this, artists get brought in too late in the planning process, and that’s why Frances Whitehead, a sculpture professor at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago and lead artist of The 606 design team, has been working with him and a committee that was put together to think through issues such as “How can we honor the history of the murals that were there?” He said that in Phase 1 of the art selection process, the committee identified key areas of focus such as lack of land area near underpasses, lack of landscaping, having a skate park vs. not having a skate park, a playground incorporating lots of color and the mural issue. The committee came up with ideas and a roster of artists nominated to compete for permanent commissioned works. Designs were submitted and the committee narrowed the artists to five. He said that commissioning artists early helped to solve problems as they arose.
Angel said that in Phase 2 of the art selection process, the committee will get back together to see more detailed designs from the five artists and make final decisions. He said that there will also be an open RFP process for any artists to apply for ongoing and temporary art projects in the park. He said that the Chicago Park District and the Chicago Department of Transportation are working on a plan for stewardship of the art for the long run. He said that this stewardship is the third and final phase of the art selection process.
Beth White said that the commissioned artists came up with projects that did not require major interventions like Cloud Gate in Millennium Park did, for example. The artists embraced what was there and worked with what was there. Angel said that helped make the art projects less expensive.
Commissioner Boone asked Angel to talk about performing arts at The 606. Angel said that The Trust for Public Land hired a consultant to create programming scenarios and that concerts, theater and dance were all on the table. He said that there will eventually be staff hired somewhere, perhaps at the Chicago Park District or at a newly created 501(c)(3) entity, to do programming, but a balance will be struck between the ideas of professional staff and the needs and wants of the community.
Nora Daley said that one of the questions people are asking is “Is this project fully funded or will there be a fund raising campaign?” Beth White replied that funds have been secured for the initial construction and landscaping phases, with fund raising underway for art, an observatory and other enhancements. She said that the total cost of the project is projected to be $91 million, with $67 or $68 secured and the rest to be raised. Angel said that once we have the final designs for the art, we will have a much better idea how much money will need to be raised.
Sheila O’Grady asked Beth White to compare and contrast The 606 with the High Line in New York City. Beth said that the High Line is extraordinary. She said that the High Line is in its third phase of construction right now, but when The 606 opens in the fall of 2014 it will be twice as long. The High Line is 1.5 miles versus 2.7 miles, at a height of 30 feet versus our 18 feet and will cost $150 or $160 million versus $91 million. Beth also said that The 606 project is more residential than the High Line.
Marj Halperin said that the two projects are different in the same way that Chicago is different from New York. She said that the High Line has a hidden getaway or secret garden feel, while in Chicago, we are all about our neighborhoods and our community, so The 606 is not hidden. There are lots of activities in the communities where people are living, much like Millennium Park.
Ra Joy asked about safety in The 606. Beth White replied that the Chicago Police Department was engaged very early in the design process and that they embraced the project quickly and completely. Representatives from the Police Department attended community meetings and charettes. She said that safety is the number one priority of the project, and planners are working closely with the Police Department to create a beautiful and safe environment for everyone. Angel said that the issues of crime, pedestrians vs. bikes and the safety of visitors at the 18-foot elevation level came up lots of times in conversation and will be addressed in the plans for the space.
Carol Adams asked Angel to explain more about the selection process for the artistic commissions. Angel said that the committee consisted of curators, collectors and others who had successfully addressed some of the issues The 606 planners were facing. He said that each committee member was asked to invite four artists for consideration and then decisions were made as a group. Antonia Contro asked how many opportunities there were for commissions and Angel replied that there were five.
Commissioner Boone suggested that perhaps Beth White could lead the CAC members on a guided tour of The 606 in its construction phase and said that she would send an email of invitation to all CAC members.
Commissioner Boone thanked the members of the CAC for all of their support of DCASE programming. She thanked Eileen LaCario and Broadway in Chicago for holding a preview concert this summer in Millennium Park sampling their upcoming shows. She thanked Mike Reed for assisting DCASE’s programming team and for his invaluable help with the upcoming Chicago Music Summit. She thanked Rebeccah Sanders of the Chicago Cultural Alliance for recently launching a new program aligned with the goals of the Chicago Cultural Plan. She thanked Mary Ittelson for facilitating an impactful gathering that played an instrumental role in the reimagining of the DCASE grants program. She thanked Dr. Carol Adams for grooving at the Jazz Festival. She thanked Ra Joy and the Arts Alliance Illinois for being such strong advocates of the Chicago Cultural Plan. She thanked Deborah Rutter for inviting DCASE to participate in the Shall We Gather at the River event, featuring live music and family fun floating from Michigan Avenue to Ping Tom Memorial Park.
She asked for a round of applause for her senior staff, who work so hard every day. She thanked Nora Daley and Marj Halperin for their support, leadership and friendship. She said that they have both been invaluable resources for her. Finally, she asked the CAC members to visit The Happy Show exhibit on their way out and to mark their calendars for the World Music Festival and Chicago Music Summit. She then opened the floor for announcements.
Homer Bryant said that there were 135 kids in his summer program and that 300 kids were currently off the street, in class learning ballet. Carol Adams said that there were currently three great exhibitions at the DuSable Museum. Baraka de Soleil invited all the members to the next Dance Center of Columbia College’s Audience and Community Engagement event on Monday, September 16. Rebeccah Sanders invited the members to experience Chicago’s neighborhoods by checking out the upcoming events on the Chicago Cultural Alliance’s website. Eileen LaCario invited the members to the first night of the Chicago Commercial Collective’s “To Master the Art” at the Broadway Playhouse featuring a post-show Q&A discussion with Chicago's own award-winning chefs. Deborah Rutter said that the Chicago Symphony Orchestra’s annual free community concert will take place in Cicero, Illinois, this year instead of Millennium Park and will feature members of a community chorus. Dr. Adams encouraged the members to attend the upcoming Hyde Park Jazz Festival.
Nora Daley thanked everyone for attending and adjourned the meeting.
Respectfully submitted, Sue Vopicka