The Loop Theatre District has become a massive economic generator and tourist attraction. What are your specific thoughts for building on this success? Do you see a need for new tax incentives?
Mayor Daley deserves major credit for revitalizing the Loop into a vibrant economic hub in the evening by bringing in world-class arts and culture — from locally grown companies like the Goodman and Joffrey, to international fare through Broadway in Chicago. I would continue his work to build a strong artistic hub in the Loop and will consider creative incentives that increase revenues for taxpayers while keeping our theater district strong.
Miguel del Valle
A vibrant arts and culture scene is key to Chicago’s economy and its place as an exciting global city. It draws tourism, offers employment and entrepreneurship opportunities in the sector, creates a space that helps spin-off businesses grow and thrive, and attracts a professional work force that values appealing artistic and cultural amenities.
Because this district is such a great success, it does not need new tax incentives. Tax incentives are good for jump-starting economic development, but now that the Loop theater district is its own economic generator and tourist attraction, it can contribute to the tax base.
There are many ways to build on this successful district without utilizing funds that should be reserved for blighted areas. I believe encouraging tourist business growth downtown by making sure we cut through the red tape that businesses have to face, such as streamlining the permitting process for things like canopies and sidewalk cafes, is one way to support the theater district along with the rest of the city. Additionally, I believe the city should also take a very active role in encouraging corporate and philanthropic investments in the sector.
Carol Moseley Braun
The Loop theater district is more than just entertainment, it supports thousands of jobs and attracts millions of visitors to Chicago. The Loop theater district is more than just entertainment, it supports thousands of jobs and attracts millions of visitors to Chicago. I believe tax incentives should continue as a way to stimulate infrastructure development in the North Loop theater district. The investment made by the city to build the new Goodman and renovate the Oriental and Palace has had an enormous positive impact on the economy. But there are still productions that cannot play Chicago due to the lack of an 800- to 1,000-seat venue in the district. In addition, tax incentive funding could also be used to maintain and further develop the infrastructures of the downtown not-for-profit performing arts venues.
In addition to the revenue for the theaters, the monies spent at area restaurants and hotels are critical to their operation. We also need to be mindful of all the tax revenue generated by these businesses when calculating the efficacy of the tax incentives.
Chicago is a world-class city that serves residents and tourists alike. The art industry provides thousands of city jobs, while also generating city revenue. Additionally, the arts have played an important role in the economic revitalization of many of our nation’s cities. The Loop theater district has been a jewel in downtown development and economic growth. The Loop theater district has been a jewel in downtown development and economic growth. I have strongly supported all aspects of the arts throughout my career, and played a role in making the Loop theater district what it is today. Specifically, I helped to build the Cadillac Palace, Goodman Theatre and the Chicago Theatre. To generate additional revenue, we must continue to take advantage of sponsorship opportunities where appropriate. For example, there have been naming opportunities for such venues as the Cadillac Palace, Ford Center for the Performing Arts (Oriental Theatre) and the Bank of America Theatre. The mayor’s office should act as a catalyst to link funders with theatrical endeavors.
Part of what makes Chicago such an amazing city is the rich diversity we find in neighborhoods. While continuing to develop the Loop theater district is vital, we must not ignore the arts and culture in our neighborhoods. Each neighborhood’s vibrancy is defined by the quality and diversity of its arts and culture. We must be innovative in developing ways to promote and encourage neighborhood arts and culture. As president of the Park District, I provided free space for local theater performances for children. These are the types of programs we must continue and build upon in each of our communities. Creative partnerships must be used to further development in the Loop theater district.
The “Free Concert for Chicago”at Millennium Park last September launching Riccardo Muti’s tenure as music director of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra was an enormous success, attracting some 25,000 people. Will you continue this tradition of City Hall support of the CSO’s endeavors to widen the audience for classical music, at Millennium Park and elsewhere? And can the city continue to fund its busy schedule of other concerts at Millennium Park, the Chicago Cultural Center and elsewhere?
I strongly support the CSO’s efforts to widen the audience for classical music and believe its community engagement strategy serves as a great example of how our major institutions can work with communities. Just like the Grant Park Music Festival, these concerts expose new audiences to arts that are available for free to all Chicagoans. While the city no doubt faces critical fiscal challenges, the arts are no less essential to the growth of a great city. As mayor, I will maintain adequate funding for the CSO and other arts groups important to the city of Chicago, and ensure that we use our incredible public assets — like Millennium and Grant Parks — to showcase these performances.
Miguel del Valle
The current administration has done a great job supporting the CSO, and, as mayor, I plan to continue this support. I will carry on the advocacy efforts at all levels to secure funding and provide in-kind support for the CSO and other significant cultural venues and institutions throughout the city.
Maintaining and expanding access to the arts for all of Chicago’s residents is something I feel very strongly about. Widening the audience also increases the opportunity to further funding through private donations. It will take tremendous creativity and commitment from many sectors to maintain these amenities during these difficult economic times, but I believe that a vibrant arts scene is key to Chicago’s livability for its residents and its position as a global city that attracts tourists.
Carol Moseley Braun
The launch of the Riccardo Muti era at the Chicago Symphony Orchestra was a triumphant moment for our city. In addition to showcasing Millennium Park and our world-class orchestra, the event reinforced the power of music and the arts to bring Chicagoans together. Few cities in the world have the kind of cultural amenities like Chicago. From the Cultural Center, which serves as the People’s Palace and an incubator for emerging artists and arts groups, to the breathtaking public square that is Millennium Park. These facilities serve all of our artists, cultural organizations and community members and help define Chicago as a city that appreciates and supports the arts.
Great music has also long defined Chicago. City government has been fortunate to have the partnership of the private sector in supporting our free programs and concerts at the Cultural Center and in Grant Park and Millennium Park. The next mayor should rethink how music and our festivals can be used to strengthen not just downtown but the development and maintenance of our neighborhoods as well.
As mayor, I would work with the private sector and arts institutions to see how we could replicate this type of concert in other parks venues including Washington Park, Humboldt Park and Gompers Park so that people in the neighborhoods could enjoy this wonderful Chicago amenity.
I believe strongly in supporting all aspects of art and culture in our city. As Park District president I fought, against staff opposition, to maintain funding of the Grant Park Music Festival. I am proud of the work I did to maintain this program, as it remains the only free classical public music program in the country. This helps define our city and the appreciation and respect for the arts.
Maestro Muti is just one of the internationally respected artists our great city has attracted. His debut concert was spectacular for all who attended. I will work to expand the tradition of “Free Concerts for Chicago” that expose people, particularly children, to the beauty of the arts. There are obvious budget challenges associated with such programs. To that end, I will work to establish creative partnerships with the business and philanthropic communities of our city. Leonard Bernstein and the New York Philharmonic influenced a generation of young people around the country who learned to love music with his televised “Young People’s Concerts” from 1958 to 1973. Now, it’s Chicago’s turn to provide our residents, particularly our youth, access to programs that educate people about the arts, while at the same time providing pleasure to a large group of listeners.
Chicago’s sprawling music-club industry has long complained that it receives little promotion from City Hall (while smaller counterparts in Austin,Nashville and elsewhere are heavily promoted as tourism magnets in their hometowns). In addition, the clubs say they face continuous licensing hassles from the city. How should the city nurture and manage its music clubs?
From early blues to house music, innovative musical styles have thrived in Chicago’s clubs and gone on to reach global audiences. It’s crucial that the city continue to foster the creativity of its musicians and encourage venues to showcase their originality. Just as the theater district revitalized the Loop into a thriving entertainment area, I would like to see that same energy invested in neighborhoods around the city. Pilsen has become a hub for independent artists and small galleries. Ravenswood’s old industrial buildings are quickly being converted to artist workspaces and administrative offices for some of the city’s small theater companies. I would like to see these neighborhood-based artistic communities grow across the city by prioritizing zoning and development funding for arts and cultural hubs.
Miguel del Valle
The city should use its investment in the arts in a balanced way, catalyzing creativity that showcases and draws people both downtown and to our neighborhoods and promoting access to the arts for Chicagoans of all income levels. While downtown arts and culture offerings are crucial, and sometimes the more obvious component of the arts and culture scene, neighborhood and music clubs, ethnic festivals, art, theater and other venues also contribute to the vibrancy of the city. They help to foster a sense of pride and place in our “city of neighborhoods” and to preserve the cultural legacy of the many immigrants that have comprised the rich fabric of Chicago.
I believe that we can nurture and manage our music clubs in much the same way that I propose we support all small businesses, by expanding access to capital through reconfiguring existing programs that provide capital, and by streamlining the licensing and permitting processes by cutting unnecessary bureaucratic red tape and regulations.
It is also important that we establish a communication process between groups such as music clubs and the Departments of Cultural Affairs and Special Events to make sure that we are promoting these groups properly through our tourism offices.
Carol Moseley Braun
Chicago’s music industry is a world-class resource that brands our city on the global stage. According to the Chicago Music Commission, Chicago has the third largest music workforce, the third largest number of music businesses and the third largest payroll in the United States. Unfortunately, instead of embracing and promoting our music industry, there’s an adversarial relationship between music venues and promoters and the regulatory agencies of city government.
As our peer cities find new ways to remain competitive in attracting workforce talent and generating new revenue in these tough economic times, the next mayor must establish new and deeper ties with the music industry.
As mayor, I will work to eliminate bureaucratic red tape and foster a stronger partnership between City Hall and our creative enterprises and entrepreneurs. I will work with diverse representatives of the music community, including venue owners, and at-large business community leadership to craft a plan for how the city and private sector can better promote Chicago music for the benefit of all Chicagoans.
Under my leadership, when new regulations are under consideration or when suggestions for reform on issues such as public place of amusement licenses arise, I will be having a dialogue with the arts industry up front rather than after the fact. From this new approach will emerge a more responsive City Hall, a better represented music industry, and a more economically vibrant Chicago. Everyone who values the arts and culture in Chicago, owes Lois Weisberg a tremendous debt of gratitude for her visionary leadership of the Department of Cultural Affairs. Unfortunately Lois’ transition is not the only major shake-up at the department. The recent merger of the departments of Cultural Affairs and Special Events — two departments that are in separate buildings — and the lack of transparency and accountability surrounding these changes is troubling.
As mayor, I will have a strong cabinet member for the arts and the promotion of the arts. One of his or her key responsibilities will be to promote both public and private neighborhood arts programs. The city must work to ensure these programs are better known and exposed as the community anchors they truly are. Throughout our city there are creative, talented people who are passionate about what they do. Their efforts have a stronger appeal to residents and tourists than has been realized. Further, my administration will ensure that these clubs no longer face the threat of licensing hassles. The promoter’s ordinances that have been proposed impose a double layer of regulations on any independent event at a club that already holds a public place of amusement license but which has fewer than 500 “fixed” seats. Not only is this needless regulation, but such proposals also stunt the growth of local artists who contribute greatly to the value and diversity of our city.
Lois Weisberg recently quit as commissioner of the city’s Department of Cultural Affairs, which has been dramatically cut through layoffs and employee transfers to the non-profit Chicago Tourism Fund. Will the Department of Cultural Affairs be reduced, expanded or maintained in your administration?
A healthy arts and cultural community is vital to the overall economic climate in Chicago. Our Department of Cultural Affairs needs a renewed mission and new investment. As mayor, my first action in this area will be to order the creation of a new cultural plan for Chicago. The planning process should include an assessment of our cultural resources, and a discussion with artists in every neighborhood and in all arts and cultural disciplines about our collective needs, opportunities, and priorities. From this process the Department of Cultural Affairs can create new strategies that promote vibrant arts and cultural hubs in every community and help to anchor economic growth on every side of the city.
Miguel del Valle
I am fundamentally in favor of promoting government efficiency and considering where realignments could save the city money without inappropriately diminishing services. Regardless of the structure of departments, I believe that the type of work that the Department of Cultural Affairs has done is of great value to the city and its residents. As such, I will seek ways to maximize the types of offerings that were made possible under Lois Weisberg’s leadership. Additionally, I believe that it is crucial that the city empower nonprofit arts and community-based organizations and not compete with them. Good coordination is in order and will help to maximize offerings, diversity, and access to a range of Chicagoans, and it will promote the most efficient use of scarce public resources.
Carol Moseley Braun
Moving forward, if Chicago is going to be serious about job creation, neighborhood development and competing world-wide as a convention and tourism destination, we’re going to need a strong Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events.
As mayor I will appoint a strong and visible commissioner of the Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events who will serve as a key member of my Cabinet and point person for the growth and development of Chicago’s arts industry. I will establish a real and active arts advisory committee to oversee the operations of (the Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events) and ensure accountability and balanced input to my administration on all aspects of the arts.
As mayor, I will also commission a new cultural plan and vision for Chicago. In 1987, Mayor Harold Washington released the city’s first Cultural Plan. The plan — and the grassroots grass roots process used to compile it — established an arts policy agenda and a jointly held vision for the future. We need a new vision for the arts. Now is the time to take a fresh look at the role of arts and culture in Chicago and re-image the department and the city’s roles, structures and policies to support the arts. This planning process must involve every neighborhood in the city and engage the entire community — business leaders, representatives of major downtown cultural institutions, educational and religious groups and public agencies throughout the region.
Chicago owes Lois Weisberg a debt of gratitude for helping our city gain a world-class reputation in regards to the arts. I had the pleasure of working with Lois Weisberg for decades, and I respect the job she did to maintain the place of the arts in our city.
As mentioned above, I have worked to promote arts and culture in this city throughout my career. As (CPS) president, I found a way to raise millions of dollars for new musical instruments in our schools. Unknown to many, CPS is the holder of an extremely valuable art collection. I was the only leader in our city to promote, inventory and insure the vast art holdings in our schools such as the WPA murals at Lane Tech High School that have been featured prominently.
As mayor of Chicago, I will continue to promote arts and culture throughout our city through a strong Department of Cultural Affairs. This department must be led by a strong and dynamic leader who will build upon the legacy of Lois Weisberg and advance arts and culture in Chicago. Shifting employees and responsibilities like public art to the Chicago Tourism Fund was extremely ill conceived. The department must be staffed by experienced and knowledgeable professionals that can advance our ambitious agenda.
Arts and culture are integral to the flourishing of a city. Arts and culture organizations are employers, producers and consumers. They are key partners in the marketing and promotion of not only our city, but our region and state. As mayor, I will make it a priority to build upon the legacy of Lois Weisberg to ensure Chicago’s standing as a world-class city.