What Rahm Should Do For Chicago Arts

Published May 12, 2011

2) Establish Arts and Crafts Shops Run by The City of Chicago

The Illinois Artisans' Shop has been a successful project that gets leading Illinois-created arts in front of likely consumers. Chicago would do well to emulate this strategy via one or more Chicago Arts and Crafts shops that do the same for Chicago-area artists. These shops would sell one-of-a-kind arts and crafts, including paintings, art prints, photography, jewelry, pottery and hand crafts of all kinds in a range of prices.

Chicago gallery interiorTo begin with, a few shops should be established in areas where crowds congregate, perhaps near theaters or other major art venues to ensure a steady flow of people; one in the downtown area, one each on North and South Sides, and perhaps one near or inside Navy Pier. These would not only be a good place to showcase Chicago talent -- if run correctly, like the Illinois Artisan's shop, they would make money for both artists and the city.

3) Leverage Chicago Cable TV to Showcase More Local Arts

We live in a world where television is the principal way people get familiar with art, and the old quip about "If it isn't on television it doesn't exist" has some truth in it. It is something of a pity that almost no Chicago theater or dance appears on television in Chicago. For the most part, only a few art exhibits receive five-minute clips without any depth of coverage, and the majority of arts programming on on Municipal Television consists of performances and events conducted in the Cultural Center.

The city should use the existing City of Chicago TV station to do more to showcase the arts in Chicago. It should run features on the arts, including video on art exhibits, scenes and perhaps even whole plays and dances from Chicago theaters and dance companies, not to mention readings by Chicago authors and content from other local creatives. One might envision whole plays performed by Chicago-based theater companies, films by local filmmakers, and dance performances filmed on location in theaters. Chicago's municipal television needs to establish more outreach and film more on location where things are happening and should produce programming that could also be sold on DVD.

Chicago should make available a studio with equipment that art groups can use to create their videos. The city might also provide technicians for on-site filming. (Groups could apply to the city for consideration in this regard.) One TV host/coordinator/line producer for each artistic discipline -- art, dance, theater, literature, music – could help manage the process and programming. Official sponsors could help underwrite these productions, and discussions with unions and artists may help to reduce costs to manageable levels.

Imagine the value of performance of fine plays written by Chicago authors, performed by Chicago theater companies and appearing on television (and DVD). This would not only benefit audiences, it would help sell more tickets to Chicago theaters and raise the profile of Chicago artists in the public mind.