Cultural Advisory Council December 6, 2016 Meeting Minutes



Cultural Advisory Council ("CAC") Members: Chair Nora Daley, Vice Chair Marj Halperin, Carol Adams, Marshall Brown, Barak adé Soleil, Eileen LaCario, Ernie Wong, David Woolwine, and Angel Ysaguirre.

Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events ("DCASE") Staff: Commissioner Mark Kelly, Erin Bauer, Erin Harkey, Jennifer Johnson-Washington, Jamey Lundblad, Kenya Merritt, Matt Nielson, Erin Roberts, Sue Vopicka, and Melanie Wang.


Nora Daley called the meeting to order and stated that voting on the minutes from the CAC meeting on September 6, 2016, would be put on hold as a quorum of eleven was not present. She then gave the floor to Commissioner Mark Kelly. Commissioner Kelly said that when he started at DCASE in August, we already had a terrific mission statement created by Michelle Boone with DCASE staff and others, but he thought we also needed to identify our values. He said that these values offer us a compass for our work:

  • CREATIVITY – Artistry and creativity is as fundamental as the air we breathe. Creativity is neither a luxury nor a recreation; it is how we become more human.
  • ADVOCACY – We are advocates and champions for arts and culture—and for the City of Chicago. We believe that Chicago—the birthplace of storefront theater, modern architecture, footwork, improv, Gospel music, House music, the urban Blues and more—is an arts powerhouse and a global cultural destination.
  • DIVERSITY & EQUITY – We believe in the power of the arts to build community, inspire social change and bring fresh perspective to difficult and complex issues—including issues of race, ethnicity, class, gender, and sexual orientation. We value established cultural institutions and emerging artists, equally.
  • ACCESS – We believe that citizens benefit from free and open access to the arts and special events. We are committed to ensuring that everyone in our city has equal access to both.
  • COLLABORATION – We believe that two heads are better than one. To be effective, DCASE must collaborate with other City departments, Chicago’s creative communities, and civic and business leaders. Our work is interdependent.
  • CELEBRATION – We present engaging programs that bring delight, awe, surprise, and wonder to our audiences—while elevating Chicago’s unique identity. We activate the city and entertain residents and visitors alike with festive experiences. We celebrate Chicago.

The Commissioner asked if the CAC members had any comments on the values.  Angel Ysaguirre said that they set a forward-looking tone for the City and that he liked that the values show optimism and ambition in very human ways. Barak adé Soleil noted that inclusion is often assumed as part of accessibility, but that is not always the case. He asked DCASE to consider that moving forward in its planning. Carol Adams suggested that connectivity and bringing people together should be part of the values. 

Commissioner Kelly then gave an update on four new DCASE initiatives: the Year of Public Art; Free! Free! Free!; Chicago SummerDance-Off; and the Chicago theater community messaging strategy.

He said that in October, Mayor Emanuel announced 2017 as the Year of Public Art, to include:

  • The 50x50 Neighborhood Arts Project, inspired by Chicago's 50 wards and the 50th anniversary of the Picasso in Daley Plaza and the Wall of Respect, which once stood at 43rd Street and Langley Avenue on the South Side. The initiative will provide up to $1 million for new public art projects. Aldermen may opt in to the program by choosing to dedicate a portion of their 2017 menu allocation to commission public art for their ward. These menu funds will be matched up to $10,000 by DCASE.
  • In collaboration with the Department of Family and Support Services, arts and community-based organizations that are working on the development of public art projects in the City may apply to participate in the Public Art Youth Corps paid internship program. Through the internship program, youth and young adults will be matched with organizations to work on various aspects of public art making from administration to design, fabrication and installation. The internship aims to expose youth to career opportunities in the arts.
  • Up to 25 percent of the awarded grants of DCASE’s Individual Artists Program will support public art projects across six funding categories: Chicago Projects, Touring Projects, Mobile and Citywide Projects, Works in Progress, Social Practice, and Professional Advancement and Creative Research.
  • Cultural Center exhibitions to include The Wall of Respect: Vestiges, Shards and the Legacy of Black Power; and Eugene Eda’s Doors for Malcolm X College.

Commissioner Kelly said that Free! Free! Free! is a new website and e-newsletter updated monthly that launched last month featuring free events at DCASE, the Libraries, the Parks and various Museums in the Parks. He said that eventually, with funding, this will expand into a more robust calendar. Both Nora Daley and Eileen LaCario stated that they loved the idea. Marshall Brown asked if university events were being listed, and Commissioner Kelly replied that they were. Commissioner Kelly said that the CAC members would be added to the distribution list. Nora Daley asked whom to reach out to with questions or with events to be added. Jamey Lundblad said that he was the contact person and that recipients of the DCASE newsletter would automatically receive Free! Free! Free! Nora Daley suggested including information on the events of the City of Chicago’s sister agencies in the content of the e-newsletter.

Commissioner Kelly said that in 2017, DCASE intends to hold dance competitions in key neighborhoods that culminate in a SummerDance-Off in Millennium Park featuring the best community performances. He said that working in lockstep with the League of Chicago Theatres, DCASE will work on new, bold messaging and a strategic marketing plan for Chicago as a theater town.

Commissioner Kelly stated that one of the first things he did when he came to DCASE was to establish a weekly charrette series to bring fresh eyes to our work. He said that every Friday, staff gathers for a voluntary brainstorming session on a different DCASE event, program or initiative. 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 DCASE senior team within two weeks. He said that this process has been instrumental to building a team focused on more purposeful programs. Topics so far include:  Millennium Park; Chicago Gospel Music Festival; Chicago Blues Festival; Taste of Chicago; and the Lake FX Summit + Expo.

Commissioner Kelly said that DCASE staff also reviewed the Fifth Star Awards, and he wanted to bring the CAC members into the charrette process, specifically around this event. He recognized David Woolwine for Allstate’s lead sponsorship of the event, and Michelle Boone, Mayor Emanuel and DCASE staff for making this a wonderful event to build on. He said that Jamey Lundblad would lead a discussion to get CAC input on the event, and that DCASE’s thinking on the event was that it should rally the entire cultural community and that it should move into the month of August.

Jamey gave a brief overview of the Fifth Star Awards program and engaged the CAC members in a mini charrette, asking them: 1. What worked well/what do we want to take with us; and 2. What’s missing/what do we want to try to incorporate for the future. CAC comments on what worked well included: access and accessibility for people with disabilities; the program is free and open to the public, the opposite of the Kennedy Center Honors; and that the event tells a great story about Chicago arts and artists. Comments on what could be improved included:  having a celebrity emcee; creating a hall of fame in the Cultural Center or Millennium Park that would provide year-round event promotion and permanent recognition of the honorees; and projecting the event or tribute videos onto buildings.

Mark thanked the CAC members for their participation and said that he would send the charrette schedule to them so that they can share their comments with staff via email. He said that he wants to engage them in shaping the future of DCASE.

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

Respectfully submitted, Sue Vopicka