Meeting minutes were approved at the Cultural Advisory Council Meeting on Tuesday, December 2, 2014 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, Dr. Carol Adams, Homer H. Bryant, Antonia Contro, Sandra Guthman, Mary Ittelson, Ra Joy, Tatiana Gant (representing Shirley R. Madigan), Diana Martinez, Jane Saks, Rebeccah Sanders, Roell Schmidt, and Howard Tullman.
Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events ("DCASE") Staff: Commissioner Michelle T. Boone, Julie Burros, Tracie Hall, Jamey Lundblad, Jewel Malone, David McDermott, Kenya Merritt, Matt Nielson, and Sue Vopicka.
Nora Daley called the meeting to order. Commissioner Boone asked the members of the CAC to introduce themselves for the benefit of the members of the public in attendance. She then introduced new DCASE staff member Tracie Hall, Deputy Commissioner of Arts and Creative Industries, and said that Tracie came to DCASE after serving as the Vice President of Strategy and Organizational Development at the Queens Library in New York, and as the Strategy Integration Specialist at the Boeing Company in Chicago, among other posts.
Nora Daley motioned for the approval of minutes from the June 3, 2014, meeting to be approved. Sandra Guthman seconded the motion and the minutes were unanimously approved.
Nora Daley said that the terms of many of the CAC members were due to expire in November of 2014 and she thanked those members who had agreed to serve another term. She thanked resigning members Juan Chavez and Cari Sacks for their service and reported that five new members would soon be appointed.
Commissioner Boone said that the Chicago Cultural Plan was launched two years ago in October and that DCASE issued a report back to the community-at-large regarding its progress for the one-year anniversary. She said that it was important that the good news trumpet wasn’t always blown by DCASE, so an independent stewardship committee was convened to continue to drive the successful implementation of the Plan and to track and report on its progress to the citizens of Chicago and the world. She then introduced CAC member Ra Joy, Executive Director of Arts Alliance Illinois, the lead agency behind the stewardship effort.
Mr. Joy said that a cooperative effort of all of the arts leaders in the room and beyond would be needed to fully implement the priorities of the Chicago Cultural Plan. He said that to put it in historical context, the 1909 Plan of Chicago, co-written by Daniel Burnham and Edward H. Bennett and sponsored by the Commercial Club, an association of Chicago's most prominent business and professional leaders, was Chicago's first comprehensive plan and provided the same roadmap to strengthen Chicago as the Cultural Plan does today.
He went on to say that the Plan of Chicago, unlike the plan Burnham wrote for San Francisco, was a success due in large part to the Wacker’s Manual of the Plan of Chicago, authored by Walter D. Moody, managing director of the Chicago Plan Commission for nine years. He said that Moody’s efforts in selling the idea of planning and the contents of the plan to every man, woman, and child in the city is the equivalent of the Chicago Cultural Plan Stewardship Initiative. He said that we need to be ambassadors, advocates and bridge builders; in other words, we need to be Walter Moody for our Plan.
Mr. Joy said that the Chicago Cultural Plan Stewardship Initiative engaged cultural institutions (grasstops), average citizens (grassroots), and policy makers, particularly the Chicago City Council. He reported that there is a growing list of Plan champions on the Council. He concluded by saying that in the next few weeks he would share a draft advocacy agenda via email with the members of the CAC, listing ten policy actions related to the four categories of the Plan (People, Places, Policies and Planning Culturally) as a follow-up to today’s meeting so that the CAC could actively engage in advocating for the implementation of the Plan’s top-line priorities. Commissioner Boone stated that a really strong committee had been assembled to keep the Cultural Plan alive.
Commissioner Boone began her DCASE update by stating that the Chicago Blues Festival continues to be one of DCASE’s stronger festivals and attracts many international visitors. She said that the Taste of Chicago continues to get new life from features such as the Celebrity Chef du Jour program and the addition of new restaurants and food trucks. She said that the numbers continue to trend up, with the help of Dave McDermott, DCASE’s First Deputy Commissioner. She said that Dave looked hard to find a successful model for a free festival and that he has done a great job of creating new revenues by instituting ticket sales at the Petrillo Bandshell and cutting costs to make Taste of Chicago a successful financial story.
Commissioner Boone continued her update by stating that the successful Chicago Cultural Center exhibitions “Hebru Brantley: Parade Day Rain” and “CHGO DSGN: Recent Object and Graphic Design” would be closing soon, “Sabina Ott: here and there pink melon joy” would be open through January 4, 2015, and three new exhibits would be opening soon.
Commissioner Boone said that Millennium Park’s 10th Anniversary Summer Celebration was a huge success and included programming such as Downtown Sound; Loops and Variations; Made in Chicago: World Class Jazz; and the Summer Film Series.
Commissioner Boone stated that attendance numbers at the Chicago Jazz Festival continue to rise with great musical programming and additions such as artisan booths.
Commissioner Boone said that the inaugural Fifth Star Awards would take place on Wednesday, September 17, in Millennium Park. She said that the awards were two years in the making, with Nora Daley and several other CAC members working with DCASE staff on how best to celebrate Chicagoans who have made significant contributions in the arts and culture. She said that DCASE teamed up with the creative team at Leo Burnett to create an awards program akin to the Kennedy Center Honors with the coolness of the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame. She said that the program had to be free and had to be “Chicago.” She stated that the inaugural honorees are Lou Conte, dancer, choreographer and founder of Hubbard Street Dance Chicago; Ramsey Lewis, Grammy-winning jazz composer, pianist and radio personality; Richard Hunt, internationally renowned sculptor who will have retrospectives later this fall at the Chicago Cultural Center and the Museum of Contemporary Art; Lois Weisberg, Chicago’s cultural commissioner for over 20 years; and the Auditorium Theatre of Roosevelt University, the National Historic Landmark celebrating its 125th anniversary.
Commissioner Boone concluded her update by stating that World Music Festival Chicago would kick off on September 11, 2014, and include a Ragamala, a 12-hour overnight classical Indian concert at the Chicago Cultural Center. She said the event was packed last year and it is an experience not to be missed that draws a whole new audience to enjoy the Chicago Cultural Center.
Commissioner Boone said that before she asked for CAC member updates, she wanted to congratulate Jane Saks on the debut of Project&’s radio piece on NPR’s “All Things Considered” - “Working, Then and Now” - and the accompanying traveling photo exhibit which revisit Studs Terkel’s book “Working.”
Marj Halperin reminded the CAC members that they had been invited to The Trust for Public Land’s event scheduled for that evening at 6:30 p.m. to learn more about how The 606 is being turned into a living work of art and a showcase for "Creative Placemaking." Marj said that Frances Whitehead, lead artist on The 606, and Ellen Ryan, Director for Creative Placemaking for The Trust for Public Land, would engage in a conversation moderated by Eric Williams, owner of The Silver Room and creator of the Grass Roots Block Party.
Commissioner Boone congratulated CAC member Antonia Contro on the unveiling of her magnificent recent commission Scorza at the new Intelligentsia Coffee in Wicker Park. She then asked if there were any member announcements.
Sandra Guthman said that ExpoChicago would kick off next week and that the exhibition “David Bowie Is” would open at the Museum of Contemporary Art on September 23. She said that the MCA is the only U.S. venue for this retrospective of David Bowie, who has had such an enormous influence on fashion and pop culture. She said that these are two major happenings for the city of Chicago.
Dr. Carol Adams began by stating that the DuSable Museum of African American History was proud to be part of the recently developed Museum Campus South. She announced that the DuSable Museum would host an event called “Art, Wine and Entertainment: The Masquerade” on Halloween night. She said that the DuSable would host a Richard Wright Symposium, and that Friday, September 12, 2014, would be DuSable Night at Court Theatre for an adaptation of Native Son. Dr. Adams said to use the promo code “DUSABLE” for a discounted DuSable Museum rate of $25. She said that on October 9, 2014, the DuSable Museum will host “Adapting Native Son: A Conversation” with Arnold Rampersad, Ralph Elllison’s biographer; Dr. Melissa Barton, Curator of Prose & Drama for Yale Collection of American Literature at the Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library; and Nambi Kelley, playwright and adapter of Native Son.
Dr. Adams went on to say that the DuSable would participate in the Digital Diaspora Family Reunion Road Show and would host the South Side premier of the film “Finding Fela” on October 17, 2014. In closing, Dr. Adams stated that the DuSable Museum would be one of the beneficiaries of the opening night proceeds for the Harlem Fine Arts Show on October 30, 2014.
Commissioner Boone said that once she spoke with Dr. Adams about the Museum Campus South project, Dr. Adams quickly seized a leadership role. She went on to say that the Museum Campus South is a collection of seven museums anchored by the Museum of Science and Industry and including the DuSable Museum, the Oriental Institute Museum, the Renaissance Society, the Robie House, the Smart Museum of Art, and the Reva and David Logan Center for the Arts. She said that the Museum Campus South is the manifestation of a longstanding vision that gained momentum through the Chicago Cultural Plan to foster and promote vibrant cultural districts citywide.
Commissioner Boone thanked Howard Tullman for recently hosting the DCASE senior staff for a tour of 1871. Mr. Tullman asked the Commissioner for an update on the upcoming Great Chicago Fire Festival.
Commissioner Boone said that the Great Chicago Fire Festival would take place on October 4, 2014. She said that Redmoon had worked all summer with children and residents in parks and community centers in 15 different neighborhoods on structures that will be set on fire as part of the Festival’s Grand Spectacle. She said that the Great Chicago Fire Festival would begin at 3pm with a neighborhood bazaar featuring performances, visual art, food and vendors on the Chicago Riverwalk. She said that the Grand Spectacle would begin at 8pm on the Chicago River between State Street and Columbus Drive with the lighting of one of 15 fire cauldrons that will be lowered from bridges to boats waiting on the river below. She said that from there, the Grand Spectacle will begin as the boats carry the flames out to three platforms, where the giant sculptures will be set on fire. Commissioner Boone said that preliminary tests with the Chicago Fire Department had begun at Redmoon’s warehouse in Pilsen and she was sure that Redmoon would welcome any interested members of the CAC to their facility for a preview.
Commissioner Boone asked if there were any further questions or updates and adjourned the meeting.
Respectfully submitted, Sue Vopicka