Cultural Advisory Council March 21, 2017 Meeting Minutes



Cultural Advisory Council ("CAC") Members: Chair Nora Daley, Carol Adams, Jeff Alexander, Antonia Contro, Graham Elliot, Carlos Hernandez, Maria Pinto, Heather Ireland Robinson, Ernie Wong, and Angel Ysaguirre.

Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events ("DCASE") Staff: Commissioner Mark Kelly, Erin Harkey, Ann Hickey, Jamey Lundblad, Kenya Merritt, Matt Nielson, Erin Roberts, Sue Vopicka, Tara Vock, and Melanie Wang.


Nora Daley called the meeting to order and asked everyone at the table to introduce themselves. She stated that voting on the minutes from the CAC meetings on September 6, 2016, and December 6, 2016, would be put on hold as a quorum of eleven was not present. She said that as this was the third meeting where the quorum was not met we should look at different time options for the meetings going forward and suggested that a board survey with time options be circulated electronically.

Commissioner Kelly began his report to the CAC members. He said that one of the first things he did when he came to DCASE in August was to establish a weekly charrette series - every Friday DCASE staff gather for a brainstorming session on a different DCASE event, program, or initiative where he offers his brief observations, the producer for that program gives a quick overview, and the facilitator asks staff for one-minute reflections of the program’s strengths followed by one-minute thoughts about how we can improve the program. At the conclusion, a cross-disciplinary working group is formed to develop a new plan based on the conversation which is submitted to the senior team within two weeks. He said that this process has been instrumental to our building a team focused on more purposeful programs, and it seeks creative input and brings fast and furious changes.

Commissioner Kelly said that the Fifth Star Awards is now the “Fifth Star Honors Celebrating Chicago!” Its new mission is to celebrate Chicago’s Cultural Vitality by Celebrating our Cultural Heroes. He said that DCASE is moving forward with fresh updates to this annual event honoring individuals and organizations that have made significant contributions to Chicago's creative life. In efforts to position the event as a celebration that deeply resonates with Chicago's creative communities, staff is working on changes to the format to move it away from a "retrospective" with testimonials and toward its strength as a live performance that will be a must-see tribute to Chicago greats. He said that the entire cultural community will be invited to both the reception and the show to come together to celebrate the cultural life of the city.

Commissioner Kelly said that the 2017 Taste of Chicago July 5-9 will provide a complete sensory experience for all Taste attendees, including great food, critically acclaimed music, and an array of cultural initiatives which highlights DCASE’s programs to a new audience. He said that as part of the celebration of the Year of Public Art, we will create an “Artists Alley” where patrons will be able to watch art being created and converse with the artists. He said that a contingent of drums, dance, costumes, and large puppets will lead the Taste audience on a daily procession through Taste grounds and patrons can watch or join in.

Commissioner Kelly said that the 2017 Jazz Fest August 31- September 3 will be a very strong festival, including:  a “Jazz Village” featuring live performances curated by local Jazz organizations; a “Jazz Midway” featuring local Jazz clubs, Jazz presenters, and Jazz radio exhibitor booths; the Young Jazz Lions Pavilion on the Harris Theater Rooftop, featuring local high school and college ensembles; WFMT Network recording three main stage performances to air on their Jazz Network and promoting the Jazz Fest to their partners in Europe and China made possible by Choose Chicago; the Low Down Brass Band processing from the Chicago Cultural Center to Millennium Park on the opening day of the festival; and featuring centennial celebrations of Dizzy Gillespie, Thelonious Monk, and Ella Fitzgerald.

Commissioner Kelly stated that Mayor Rahm Emanuel and DCASE have designated 2017 the "Year of Public Art" with a new 50x50 Neighborhood Arts Project, the creation of a Public Art Youth Corps, a new Public Art Festival, exhibitions, performances, tours and more, representing a $1.5 million investment in artist-led community projects.

Commissioner Kelly said that one of DCASE’s major responsibilities is to champion, guide, and gather Chicago’s various art and cultural communities and push them to move from an atomized cluster of competing organizations to become an active sector in which they elevate and strengthen their collective work. He said that we are ready to roll out DCASE’s new initiative for convening groups related to creative arts across Chicago. He said that everyone is invited to the Creative Connections convening on March 27, his first official address to Chicago's cultural landscape. He said that other convenings have included or will include college deans, intergovernmental agencies for the Year of Public Art, music clubs, and designers.

Jeff Alexander suggested bringing all of the classical music organizations together to discuss audience development and outreach.

Nora Daley inquired about the Chicago Riverwalk and asked if it would be an open or a programmed space.  Commissioner Kelly replied that the Riverwalk is very different from Millennium Park in that there is no one place to assemble, rather, the whole length of the Riverwalk can be activated. He said that the Riverwalk’s tagline is “Escape and Embrace.” He said that DCASE, in collaboration with City agencies and Riverwalk partners, is working on special events and recurring entertainment and activities that will enhance the Riverwalk experience.

Commissioner Kelly said that the newly established Visitor Experience team will manage the first impression and overall experience of the well over 20 million people we serve annually at DCASE festivals and cultural attractions (i.e., Millennium Park, Chicago Cultural Center) via Volunteer and Education programs by considering the wayfinding, amenities, customer service, and more at our venues, festivals, and events.

Commissioner Kelly introduced Deputy Commissioner Matt Nielson, who gave a Power Point presentation on Millennium Park and engaged the CAC members in a mini charrette.

Nora Daley thanked everyone for their attendance and adjourned the meeting.

Respectfully submitted, Sue Vopicka