Chicago Cultural Plan

When I came across the Chicago Cultural Plan 2012 over at, I was a little taken aback. I’ll be the first to admit it – I didn’t know cities actually planned for their cultural future’s. In talking to grown-ups, they tend to lead on that things like that happen per the “market’s demand.” And in the same conversation you hear, “If you don’t like our City then you can move on and find one that suits you.”

Having grown up just outside Chicago, in quaint little Geneva, I can tell you that there were countless trips to city proper throughout 23 years. You begin to realize as you get older that the city itself has so many nooks and crannies that you could not possibly see everything it has to offer. I read somewhere recently that Chicago is the “City of Neighborhoods.”

When I was younger I didn’t realize how important this is to a city’s identity and its economic vitality. I knew we went to museums, parks, sporting events, restaurants, shops and everything in between, but I guess I didn’t realize that was “culture” I was being introduced to. It seemed so effortless, but you felt wore out by the end of the day because there was so much to take in.

It may be known as the Second City, may be the third most populous city in the U.S. now, but I genuinely applaud the way Chicago is taking a first-class, leader of the pack approach to creating the Chicago of the Future driven by what makes it so unique – the arts and its people.

Below is the Plan itself, and from the Forward, here is a nice quote from the Mayor, Rahm Emanuel:

It’s bold, filled with actionable items that can be realized quickly and those that are aspirational and may take decades to complete. All are intended to support the breadth of arts and culture in Chicago from garage bands to symphonies; storefront theaters to main stages; novelists to poetry slam performers; ballet to hip hop dance; world-class museums to independent galleries; architecture to interior design; fashion to photography;culinary arts to sculpture; film making to electronic media; neighborhood festivals to downtown spectacles; and the thousands of artists that make Chicago their home.


3 thoughts on “Chicago Cultural Plan

  1. All very well and good, but it’s a fact that this is the city that bans street artists in most places where there are tourists, including the entire city center with its huge sidewalks. The city considers artists “peddlers”, lumping them in with vendors who resell goods mass-produced somewhere else. Many of the “thousands of artists who make Chicago their home” would love to make a living selling their art to visitors on the street. A lot of hot air in this plan and not much else.

    1. I completely agree that if it sits on the shelf it does no good. It’s like spending money on a museum but not investing in the artists that fill the museum.

      If nothing else, this sets a precedent for future developments in terminology, uses, and ordinances. Without it, there is nothing to reference. The City is better off having something like this created and adopted even if a fraction of 1% take the time to even read it. Many cities are struggling to wrap their heads around creativity, culture and the need for such things. To them they think “it will just happen” on its own and spending time, money and energy on culture is frivolous. Trust me, I’ve lived on the other side of the spectrum as well.

      As far as the restrictions against where artists/creators can sell, produce, or distribute their product – I believe more in their creativity to get around such barriers. Partnerships with bus stations, train stations, and different venues are potential possibilities. With an adopted plan like this in place it makes it easier for people to agree with a future of art, music and other cultural amenities. Yes, Chicago still has a long way to go, but is far ahead in many respects.

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