Money is usually pretty tight for grants, and a wider spread of corporate donations would be a big help. Right now, corporate arts money is concentrated in big organizations like the Lyric Opera, Chicago Symphony and Art Institute. Some additional focus on smaller organizations would help to support a wider range of Chicago arts.
An "Art Chicago" fund – spearheaded by the Mayor's Office – would help provide opportunities for corporations and large individual donors to support local arts by supplementing the money available for city grants. The City of Chicago can use its infrastructure and existing grants programs to gather and distribute its funds, some of which might be used by art groups for things currently restricted by many grants: capital improvements, building renovation, staff salaries, new office equipment, etc.
The City of Chicago needs more iconic images to showcase Chicago as the cultural hub of the Midwest. Many people enjoy the posters from Chicago history, like the 1933 World's Fair posters, but more should be present to celebrate life in Chicago in the 21st Century.
An annual "Chicago Poster Contest" would solicit original designs from local artists. The winning poster (or posters) would be featured prominently in civic buildings, with copies of the poster for sale in both a general inexpensive edition and as a limited edition fine art print. Top entrees could be collected in a booklet with reproductions of the works and information about the artists who created them; this booklet then could be offered for sale in the Cultural Center, book shops, and other likely locations. Signed or special editions of the Chicago Poster for a given year could even become special gifts for visiting dignitaries.
These posters would be a way of helping artists, instilling civic pride, promoting the city abroad, and putting a fresh gloss on the face of Chicago life every year.