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Art Letter (5/24/07)

In an amazing development, which I’ve been told “never” happens, the Chicago’s City Council today tabled the proposed ordinance that I wrote about after it sailed through committee last Friday.

To a large extent this is attributable to
Alderman Manuel Flores who was on the Committee that heard discussion last Friday and asked a lot of salient, insightful questions and to Alderman Ricardo Munoz who joined Flores in this effort.

The ordinance was tabled for 30 days so there can be further discussion and consideration of other possible solutions.

At the committee meeting last Friday I testified that all sides seemed interested in benefitting art in Chicago and Chicago artists but were going about it in antithetical ways.  I believe there is a middle ground that can bring the divergent sides together.

The Department of Cultural Affairs says they are after efficiency and not getting bogged down with longwinded public meetings. 

I, and others, are interested in an open, public forum that allows us to readily ascertain that DCA is considering and commissioning broad and relevant art by Chicago artists and others. 

We believe that an ordinance modeled after the long-standing
Chicago Landmarks Ordinance would be something all sides could embrace. 

We can accept losing the
Public Art Panels, which have been the first step of the selection process and involve the public contributing ideas about the type of art and artists desired for a specific commission.  This means the DCA can go through their own vetting process. Efficiency.

BUT, before it gets to be a fait accompli, it would be mandatory to present the proposed artwork to a newly comprised Public Art Commission who, in open meetings the public could speak at, would evaluate the appropriateness of the art, the quality and help guide the Department of Cultural Affairs in doing a responsible job.

Thus the process would be quicker, more efficient, yet still allow the public the opportunity to participate and comment and prevent the DCA from having something approaching absolute power.

This compromise idea stems from the questions Alderman Flores was asking at the proposed ordinance hearing last Friday.

Please email me with your thoughts and/or post them on the art blog of your choice.  I‘d like to tighten up the ideas and then present an alternative ordinance that reflects some solid thinking.

I look forward to hearing from you,
Paul Klein