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Mayor Rahm Emanuel unveils first public art plan for the City of Chicago
Mayor Emanuel and DCASE have designated 2017 the “Year of Public Art,” providing a unique catalyst for the launch of the Chicago Public Art Plan.

CHICAGO, IL.- Mayor Rahm Emanuel and the Chicago Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events announced Chicago’s first Public Art Plan. The plan lays out recommendations that will help shape the future of public art in Chicago and shift how the city talks about and supports public art. The full Public Art Plan can now be downloaded at

“The Chicago Public Art Plan is an innovative blueprint that builds on Chicago’s cultural legacy and will inspire ongoing support for public art in neighborhoods throughout the city,” said Mayor Emanuel. “We will continue to support the gifted artists, working across all mediums that add to the cultural fabric of the city and inspire the next generation of talent.”

In order to guide a new vision for public art in Chicago, the Chicago Public Art Plan outlines a series of recommendations that are aligned to achieve the following overarching goals:

• Update Chicago’s Percent for Art Program
• Establish clear and transparent governmental practices
• Expand resources to support the creation of public art throughout the city
• Advance programs that support artists, neighborhoods and the public good
• Strengthen the City’s collection management systems
• Support the work that artists and organizations do to create public art
• Build awareness of and engagement with Chicago’s public art

“The Chicago Public Art Plan aims to be visionary yet grounded in practice,” said Mark Kelly, DCASE Commissioner. “It speaks to how we value art and what it can mean for all Chicagoans. As Chicago powers forward as an engine of creative life, we ought not to forget that public art isn’t just one discipline – it isn’t just sculptures and statues, it’s not only murals on walls. It’s how we as a city bring artistic vision to our streets and to the public realm. By engaging in public art, we bring value meaning and pride to Chicago”

The field of public art is continually evolving and expanding to include expansive, interdisciplinary and embedded artwork. The Chicago Public Art Plan acknowledges this and establishes that the process of commissioning public art must welcome creativity in all of its forms and offer broad opportunities for participation. The new plan is a means to advocate for a diverse public art ecosystem and to nurture art that has the potential to surprise, inspire, challenge and bring people together through shared experiences.

Public art emerged as recurring theme in conversations surrounding the Chicago Cultural Plan 2012, presented by Mayor Rahm Emanuel and DCASE as the city’s first plan for the arts since 1986. The plan proposed that expanding art in public places could be a core strategy in elevating and expanding neighborhood cultural assets and a sense of place. With these goals in mind, DCASE began to formally solicit input from art­ists, cultural leaders, neighborhood advo­cates and other citizens on the future of public art in Chicago. Mayor Emanuel directed DCASE to increase emphasis on cooperation among city agencies and with community leaders in its planning for public art. Focus groups with the City of Chicago and sister agencies addressed ways to increase collabora­tion. This collective input serves as the basis for the plan’s recommendations.

The resulting Chicago Public Art Plan weaves policy, history and images together to create the framework for the plan’s recommendations. It celebrates Chicago as home for public art, while providing a path forward – establishing a shared vision for Chicago as a city where public art is valued and more essential than ever.

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