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Chicago mayoral candidate Lori Lightfoot joined with a group of local artists at City Hall today to announce a policy to advance arts and culture in Chicago. Local artists included Guitars over Guns Regional Director Andrew DeMuro and Community Partners Specialist Phil Jacobsen, Chicago and Broadway Theater Director Gary Griffin, Joel Hall Dancers and Center Founder Joel Hall, Choreographer and Director Kevin Iega Jeff, Actor and Director Amy Morton, Author Sara Paretsky, 2nd Story Chicago Managing Director Lauren Sivak, and Actor and Director Kristina Valada-Viars. The full policy is available here.

“Arts and culture serve as an economic engine that generates thousands of jobs and spurs diverse business development in the Loop and our neighborhoods,” said Lightfoot. “And as we work to revitalize and uplift our neighborhoods, we must include the voices and creativity of artists and arts organizations. But, we cannot have a vibrant and diverse arts community if our neighborhoods are not safe, if there are limited community assets, if housing is not affordable, if access to healthcare is limited, if our neighborhood schools and afterschool organizations are not healthy and do not include diverse arts education programs.”

“Lori Lightfoot’s comprehensive, wise, and realistic vision for the arts in her administration is essentially aimed at the role the arts can play in strengthening the sense of community for all Chicagoans,” said author Stuart Dybek. “The arts are central in defining the greatness of the city for those who come to visit, and even more for those who live in it and for young who are raised in it. The beauty of Chicago as reflected in its famous architecture, music, literature, theater, visual arts, and culinary arts creates tourism and enhances our daily lives. And Lightfoot understands the arts can have a profound and inclusive power in educating and nurturing our young.”

“Our city needs a leader who understands the power of art from all angles: education, economics, cultural, and the ability of art to be one of the last reasons we all come together face to face,” said artist Nick Cave. “Lori understands that in an increasingly digital world, we must make space for all voices to express to one another, and that artists must be in conversation with all Chicagoans to address our city’s most pressing challenges.”

“Lori Lightfoot understands that engagement in the arts makes for better citizens,” said actor, director, and Steppenwolf Theater Company member Amy Morton. “That every public school in every Chicago neighborhood should have an arts program built into their curriculum. And that where artists make their home, communities flourish.”

Lightfoot’s plan to advance arts and culture includes the following:

  • Prioritize funding for the Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events for increased equitable grantmaking and microfinancing to individual artists, arts organizations and arts corridors.
  • Audit and streamline city licensing and permitting regulations, including the Public Performance and Amusement license.
  • Develop an Artist-in-Residence program to build job opportunities for artists and mentorship opportunities for young people.
  • Bring together ideas and resources from the city, philanthropy, culture and the arts to develop policies and strategies to keep artists living and working in Chicago.
  • Build investment in Chicago’s public art program by overhauling the Percent for Art ordinance.
  • Enhance the voices of socially-active artists to encourage civic engagement and support developing creative conversations and solutions to our city’s biggest challenges.