State Representative (D), 10th District Lives on the West Side
1. How do you define the importance of arts and culture to the city of Chicago? And what do you see as the city’s role in funding the arts and fostering growth in the cultural economy? I think it’s great. I love the fact that we have so many Broadway plays coming in…the Theater District, I love that. And it’s coming to the neighborhoods, too. I think it’s our role and I think we should keep it in the schools as well. We’ve taken a lot of arts and culture out of the schools. These kids have a lot of talent and not all of them want to be athletes. So if we keep it in the schools and keep it in the city, that’s great. That way everyone has a chance to get involved.
2. Where do you stand on the proposed promoters’ ordinance, which aims to increase the regulatory and insurance requirements on local event promoters? I don’t know if that’s a way of getting more revenue into the city. I’m not real familiar with that so I don’t oppose it right off-hand because I know the city has a budget deficit of $700 million and in order to bridge the gap between that, we have to come up with ways to come up with some new revenue. And one of the things I thought about was increasing business taxes and things like that since people did not want to raise income tax. We gotta be creative and come up with a lot of different things. These are for promoters who are going to promote the place, so they are going to have to charge more for the tickets. And people who go out to the theater have a little more money than other people. It’s not something that people go to all the time. So I wouldn’t be opposed to it.
3. Where do you stand on legalizing cook-on-site food trucks, as many other cities have done? I’d have to look more into that. I didn’t know that was an issue because I see those food trucks all the time, but I didn’t know they couldn’t cook on ’em. So we’d have to hire more city inspectors to license them and inspect them. That would give more people jobs. I’d probably be okay with that.
4. Where do you stand on the merging of the Department of Cultural Affairs with the Mayor’s Office of Special Events? I kinda think they should be separate. It’ll get lost up in there. Some things get lost, you know, they wouldn’t be that important. So depending on who’s running the agency, if they had it just as a division of Special Events, and then they still had their own director—if they did it like that I’d be okay with it. Other than that I’d like to keep it separate.
5. What was the last live local performance you attended? When? And what did you think of it? I saw Beauty and the Beast, it was in the spring. I loved it. I brought my daughter. We’ll probably go see The Lion King. I love the theater.
6. What was the last local cultural institution you visited? Are you a member of any cultural institutions? We went to the Peggy Notebaert with my daughter’s field trip. Before that, in the summer, we went to the Museum of Science and Industry, the Shedd Aquarium. As an elected official we get passes to the museums.
7. What is your favorite local band? How about your favorite theater company? Restaurant? Artist? Comedian or other performer? My husband used to manage a band called Ultimate Concept, so that’s my favorite band. Restaurants: Devon Seafood Grill and Hugo Frog’s. Artist: R Kelly. Comedian: George Wilborn.
8. What will you do to bring the arts to underserved communities, as well as to children, around the city? Actually, one of my constituents is trying to get this theater company opened up and getting grants. So I think I’d work with the state to try to get more grants so that they can open up these little local companies. The state gives money to build because a lot of the companies, they don’t have the building and they need a lot of the infrastructure. So like Westinghouse, they just built this brand new school on the West Side and so we wanted to give grants to them so they could bring theater companies in.
The schools should take [children] out to more plays. My daughter’s school took them to the Nature Museum. Right next to it is a little theater company and they performed little plays for the kids. So I’d want to make sure they could do that more in the neighborhood. Like if we had something out west or down south. Actually they have something down south, the eta. A lot of times they’re complaining that they don’t get much funding to do the local plays. 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.
9. Do you see Lollapalooza as a boost for the local music scene or a challenge to local venues? I know the city loves it. There’s so many people down there when I go past on my bike. I haven’t heard anyone complaining about it. I know it gives a lot of local bands an opportunity for a lot of people to see them.
10. Do you favor privatizing city festivals? No, I do not want to privatize. The city is broke and we want to make money. I don’t know what’s their argument, that it’s costing them too much, or if they just want to get rid of a lot of services. I think they’ve been popular, people really come out in droves, and once you privatize costs just go up and up. People from all over the world want to be here for the Fourth of July weekend to go to the Taste.
11. Where do you stand on allowing a casino within the city limits? In the city, if we could only have them for tourism, I think that would be legal. When I see these big buses and I see these little old people getting on the bus going to spend their retirement money or their fixed-income salaries on the boat, I just get so upset about it. I think the people that it would attract are the people who are already broke. So that’s gonna create more problems. On the other hand, it would bring revenue to the city, but at what cost? I’d only want it if tourists could only go.
12. Would you support the sale of naming rights to Soldier Field or Wrigley Field? How about more advertising signage at Wrigley? That’s fine. That’s be great.
13. Do you have a personal connection to the arts community (i.e., are you an artist yourself, or do you have friends/family in the arts community)? If so, what is it? No.
14. Should the number of available liquor licenses for bars and clubs be increased, reduced or stay about the same? It depends on where they’re going. I wouldn’t just say we have to increase it or decrease it. I would say, which neighborhood? Where are we putting these venues, what kind of venues are they going to be? And then I’d make a decision based on that. We want to build neighborhoods with businesses the community is happy with. If you want to open a restaurant you’re probably going to want to serve liquor, so you gotta find out what’s around there.
15. Mayor Daley cites the Theater District as perhaps his most cherished cultural accomplishment. What cultural achievement would you hope to see as your most important legacy? Bringing theater companies to neighborhoods. Most of them are north, we have some out south and we don’t have any out west. If we can get them in the smaller communities and get them up and running that would be great. Not big Broadway productions, but small theater companies to come in and work with the schools. I would be proud of that. I would like to see more theater companies in east and west Garfield. My vision for the city is that all of communities would have everything they needed within that community. So if you wanted to go to the theater, you could go down the street and see a great play. And you could go to a nice restaurant and you could go to an outdoor café right in your neighborhood. And then the money is turning over and over in our community.