Chicago Releases Cultural Plan Draft

Fri, 07/20/2012 - 9:00am

Chicago Cultural PlanChicago’s Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events released a comprehensive, citywide cultural plan draft to guide continued development of the city’s arts and humanities sector. A copy of the plan may be downloaded at

Like Los Angeles, Chicago’s national identity is closely linked to its artistic history.  It is home to a diverse theater scene, significant visual art museums, iconic public art, and was the birthplace of its own brand of jazz.

The ambitious plan seeks to leverage arts and culture to “realize [their] benefit on broad civic goals like economic growth, quality of life, community development, and cultural leadership.”  In addition, drawing a groundswell of audiences to participate in Chicago’s cultural offerings—both in increased numbers and deeper levels of engagement—weigh heavily on the plan’s goals.  In the words of one participant, “Why not make what is already there more accessible for us all to appreciate?”

More than 3,000 Chicagoans participated in the document’s creation process, which included four town hall meetings and twenty-one neighborhood cultural conversations, meetings with stakeholders from the arts and culture communities, and social media feedback.

The plan connects a vibrant cultural core to other civic priorities that affect quality of life in American cities, including “safety in public spaces, zoning and policy, effective communication, physical distribution, and, in some areas, transportation.”  When neighborhoods can cultivate strong and safe identities, the plan suggests, greater success in other civic development areas will follow

Chicagoans identified several recommendations for the city’s cultural development, including:

  •     Attracting and retaining artists and creative professionals
  •     Reinvigorate arts education for all Chicago and create opportunities for lifelong learning
  •     Honoring authentic Chicago culture in daily life
  •     Facilitating neighborhood planning of cultural activity
  •     Strengthening capacity of arts providers at critical stages of growth
  •     Optimizing city policies and regulation so creative industries thrive
  •     Promoting culture as a fundamental driver of prosperity to continually strengthen our quality of life
  •     Making Chicago a global cultural destination
  •     Placing a priority on cultural innovation
  •     Integrating culture into civic life across public, nonprofit, and private sectors