Above Image: Scene from Public Art Town Hall # I at Chicago Cultural Center.
Public Art Town Hall # I
Date: March 26, 2014
Venue: Exhibit Hall at Chicago Cultural Center
The March 26th “Public Art Town Hall # I” at Chicago Cultural Center was the first of the two Public Art Town Hall meetings, with the goal of developing a comprehensive Public Art Program for the City of Chicago. It was one of the recommendations of the 2012 Chicago Cultural Plan.
NOTE: This post is not a critical evaluation of the success or failures of this Town Hall meeting. This post provides a background and context to why it was organized and what topics were discussed…
Before I move on, I think, it is essential to clarify terms like Chicago Cultural Plan and DCASE.
The Chicago Cultural Plan is a series of documents that identifies the City’s needs in the cultural sphere, and make proposals for organized development. The first Cultural Plan for Chicago was developed in 1968, under Mayor Harold Washington. In 2011, one of his first acts as Mayor of Chicago, Rahm Emanuel directed the City of Chicago’s Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events [DCASE] to revisit the Chicago Cultural Plan of 1968. In February 2012, [DCASE] launched an initiative to develop a new Cultural Plan for Chicago. After a series of town hall meetings the DCASE unveiled the Chicago Cultural Plan 2012, which provides a framework to guide the city’s future cultural and economic growth. The plan is a centerpiece to continue to elevate the city of Chicago as a global destination for creativity, innovation and excellence in the arts.
The City of Chicago’s Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events [DCASE] is entrusted with the implementation of the Chicago Cultural Plan. The DCASE is dedicated to enriching Chicago’s artistic vitality and cultural vibrancy. Under DCASE, there are several divisions, and each is responsible for different aspects of cultural activity. So there are different directors – for Fashion, Design and Culinary Arts, Visual Arts, Events and Programming Division, Performing Art, and Cultural Grant Program – working under DCASE, headed by the commissioner of DCASE. In fact few days ago, there was a “Meet The DCASE” event, in which the various directors spoke about their work.. click here..
One of the recommendations of the 2012 Chicago Cultural Plan was to evolve a comprehensive Public Art Program for the City of Chicago, through public engagement process. Since the objective was to develop a Public Art Program, so the Visual Art Department under DCASE was directly involved in the process. Also, since public involvement was central to making of this comprehensive plan, so two Public Art Town Hall meetings have been organized. The March 26th Public Art Town Hall meeting at Chicago Cultural Center was the first of the two, with the objective of developing comprehensive Public Art Program for the City of Chicago. The Second Public Art Town Hall will be on April 30, in Washington Park Arts Incubator Space in the south side Chicago.
From the DCASE, the Public Art Town Hall # I was represented by
Commissioner of DCASE: Michelle T. Boone
Director of Cultural Planning at DCASE: Julie Burros
Director of Public Affairs, Marketing & Communications at DCASE: Jamey Lundblad
Director of Visual Art Department at DCASE: Daniel Schulman.
Others from the Visual Art department of DCASE present in the meeting were Nathan Mason and Greg Lunsford.
The public participation was also very strong, with artists and art advocates participating in the process.
Public Art Town Hall # I [at Chicago Cultural Center]
The first Public Art Town Hall meeting began with an introduction by Michelle T. Boone, Commissioner at DCASE, who set the stage for the evening, outlining the objective for the meeting. Her entire speech can he heard on the attached video. Here is the text..
Good Evening! Alright! I am Michelle Boone and I am Commissioner for the Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events, and I cant tell you how thrilled we are, we all are, to have you here tonight. I really want to thank you for taking time out from your busy schedule to join us this evening, for the first of the two Public Art Town Hall meetings this spring. Our Goal is to develop a new comprehensive public art plan for the city of Chicago. I also want to thank my colleagues, the team of Visual Art at DCASE, for embracing and inviting a public engagement process for developing a new plan and vision for public art in Chicago.
Every person in every neighborhood should be able to experience art and culture. So we are looking to the future as we develop a new strategy for public art. In fact this was the recommendation of the newly released Chicago Culture Plan. Mayor Emanuel and I are committed to expanding access to the art and supporting strong vibrant neighborhoods. So we are really looking forward to getting feedbacks from artists and art advocated like you. Today, we invited you to learn more about Chicago Culture Plan and the city’s public art program. But we also want to share with you, the best practices in other cities and learn and see how we can incorporate these in what we do. But also have an opportunity to brainstorm new ideas in smaller groups to discuss the role of public art in the city, think about temporary public art projects, new genres into public art sphere, and funding options for more public art. And last, but certainly not the least, I hope you all enjoy this exhibition celebrating 35 years of public art in Chicago.
Our coming exhibits program includes Gallery Talks on April 8 and April 15, Meet the Artists on April 25, and our Second Town Hall on April 30, will be in Washington Park Arts Incubator Space in the south side. So please tell your friends to join us.
After the introduction by Commissioner DCASE Michelle T. Boone, the event proceeded with the Director of Cultural Planning at DCASE Julie Burros. The first half of the speech was all about Chicago Culture Plan. I begin with the later part, which was more relevant to the Public Art Plan. The entire speech of Julie Burros can be seen on the video in the third video, seen later in the post…
PUBLIC ART CURRENT SITUATION
Where are we now? Chicago has incredible reputation for great public art. There is huge amount of interest in expanding public art. But the reality is that we have very limited avenues of support. The city processes are unclear and inconsistent regarding the advancement of projects that are artists initiated or developed at grass roots level. The Percent for Art funding has very little scope of new art when there is no new building or major renovation project.
The Percent for Art Ordinance states that 1.33% of the construction or major renovation budget of a city-owned or city-financed building or structure or certain outdoor improvements is to used to acquire or install permanent artwork at that site. The city of Chicago has Percentage for Art ordinance since 1978. Chicago was not the first city to pass this, but has been a model to many other places. However, now in 2014, there is need to update this.
So we starting this Public Art Plan from scratch
The DCASE Public Art Research:
– Carefully listening to the local community during and since the Cultural Plan process
– Researching best practices internationally
– Benchmarking Chicago’s Public Art Program with peer cities nationwide
– Envisioning a bold new mission and set of core values to guide future advancement of public art in Chicago.
The Draft Public Art Mission:
The DCASE Public Art Program advances the crucial role that artists play in transforming public spaces into extraordinary places.
– PA is an equal and interdependent element of a remarkable city’s infrastructure
– Innovative Public Art is artist led
– Artists should be embedded into planning and development processes of widespread city initiative
– Artists are professionals and must always be paid for their diverse and valuable contribution
– For a city to retain artists, artists need opportunities to experiment and grow at every phase of their development
– Neighborhood should be empowered to employ professional artists in the transformation of communities.
– There is great return when we invest in the ideas of the world’s most exciting artists, many of whom live right here in Chicago.
Public Art Plan Break Out Topics:
 Roles and Responsibilities of Public Art
 Expanding the traditional definition of Public Art to include new genres and temporary work
 Innovative sites and locations for public art
 New funding sources
 Embedding artists into municipal, private and neighborhood development teams
 Issues specific to public artists and producers of public art
RESULTS from BREAK UP GROUPs..
In their own words..
I could not be there for the entire event..
Topic:  Roles and Responsibilities of Public Art
Here is the City of Chicago’s official Public Art Program website.. click here..
Topic:  Expanding the traditional definition of Public Art to include new genres and temporary work
Some photos from the day!
If it interests anyone, here is the entire speech Julie Burros on Chicago Culture Plan
with bullet point texts.. click here..
RELATED LINKS / RESOURCES:
City of Chicago’s official Public Art Program website.. click here..
City of Chicago: Culture Plan 2012: pdf file.. click here
Some other websites related to Public Art in Chicago..
Chicago Park District: Fountains, Monuments, Sculptures & Statues.. click here..
Public Art on CTA.. click here
[with art on Brown Line, Purple Line, Red Line, Yellow Line, Pink Like, Blue Line, Orange Line and Green Line]