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Arts to underserved communities

Mayoral candidates weigh in on bringing arts to disadvantaged youth.

What will you do to bring the arts to underserved communities, as well as to children, around the city?

Braun “Support arts in elementary and secondary schools and community-based organizations.”

Caster “I will do what I can through City Hall, but I will also encourage and help organizations like Rock for Kids to flourish. Rock for Kids is doing a fabulous job of bringing music programs to underprivileged kids, and I want to see that continue and to grow.”

Chico “I would encourage partnerships to build mentorship programs/relationships to bring more resources to local art communities. In my time as Chicago School Board president, I led the way to restore the murals in the CPS buildings, and this made art available to scores of our buildings….I also led the way to restore musical instruments and music programs. …We have to make sure children in schools throughout the city, public and private, have a very healthy access to our cultural institutions throughout all neighborhoods. We need to come up with creative strategies to ensure the instruction of arts in schools is properly funded.”

Collins “I’d work with the state to try to get more grants so that they can open up these little local [theater] companies. …I would really like to work with the schools and make it mandatory or part of the curriculum that they take the kids out to a lot of productions so that then we could give grants at some point to all those little theater companies in the neighborhood. Kind of promoting them, bringing awareness to the kids. And not just the theater, but so they could learn the whole production of it, the lighting, the production, the whole bit.”

Cooper “After-school programs. I will keep most K–12 public schools open well after the close of the school day. In schoolhouses from approximately 3 to 9pm on weekdays and until midnight on weekends, children and teenagers will have opportunities to engage in a variety of arts. Additionally, mentoring and sporting activities will be available.

Del Valle “My education agenda includes promoting the arts in schools, ensuring that all Chicago Public School children receive arts education as a regular part of their curriculum. …I am also a big fan of neighborhood festivals. I will do everything possible to retain them in the face of rising Park District fees and the cost of police security and city services…. I will seek ways to catalyze, limit barriers to, and publicize locally based performances and exhibits. I will also promote the availability of free arts education and activities in community centers and parks serving Chicago’s neediest children.”

Emanuel “One of my goals is to spread arts education throughout our public schools so that every child, no matter where they go to school, is exposed to the arts from kindergarten through high school. Student exposure to the arts is currently determined by where individual arts organizations decide to do outreach, the amount of private funding available to those schools in any given year and luck—that has to change.”

Hendon “I would make sure that local theater companies [could], first of all, build from the ground. …And [I would] rehab existing facilities so they can get going. One thing that has hurt the area that I’m in, on the west end of it, is not having a thriving theater community. …But you have to put money into theater companies and cultural groups in order for them to survive, especially these days when donations, charitable giving is down. So I would most certainly do that through an aggressive grant program. I used to teach theater and comedy to children. …You can put programs in the schools, put them in the Boys and Girls Clubs. I’ve done a lot of that.”

Meeks “The best place to start is in the schools. There are a number of studies which highlight the fact that strong arts programming in schools helps close a gap that has left many children behind.”

Tyrrell “I have a lovely string ensemble run by Al Regnery, a native of Chicagoland. I shall have his ensemble play at numerous venues. I shall encourage them to play various string quartets that I have composed.”

Walls “Restoration of the neighborhood festivals.”

White “I feel that the alderperson that would be the spokesperson for each of their own communities should be more involved with the Department of Cultural Affairs and the Mayor’s Office of Special Events to plan and develop events for their areas. As each area’s needs are different.”

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