Mayoral candidates predict their major accomplishment in office.
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?
Braun “I would love to see a vibrant arts community in the neighborhoods and an improved climate for live/work space for artists.”
Caster “I’d like to see Chicago’s musical heritage and accomplishments recognized.”
Chico “I worked side by side with the mayor on the development of the Chicago Theater District, including the Chicago Theatre, the Goodman Theatre and the Palace Theatre. I held a key role in each of those, and I look forward to expanding the presence of our cultural institutions, including theater, when I am mayor of Chicago. I would like to expand those efforts into local neighborhoods and create theater districts within them.”
Collins “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 the 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.”
Cooper “Wider sidewalks. I am not sure why many of Chicago’s sidewalks are so narrow. Parks and lots of green space, in particular, downtown. Chicago’s downtown lacks parks and green space! Most important, it is time that getting to and from Chicago cultural attractions is not an obstacle-ridden path (exactly the present situation). I intend to build new CTA rail lines and to increase existing CTA rail and subway service. This includes a goal of new subway service from Ogilvie and Union Stations to Michigan Avenue; Navy Pier; major museums and Soldier Field with additional service to the Museum of Science and Industry. A monorail would be fitting above Lake Shore Drive from South Shore to Loyola University.”
Del Valle “My vision and passion is to ensure that all children receive arts education as a regular part of their school curriculum. This would provide for a more well-rounded education for youth, help them experience greater success in school and/or identify healthy extracurricular activities to keep them positively engaged, and open up pathways for arts-related career opportunities. The arts help youth build self-esteem. I have watched youth who had been set aside flourish because of their participation in mural activities and other cultural programming. My own earliest fond memories are connected to my fifth-grade participation in the musical Oklahoma!, during which my teacher treated me as if I were an essential part of the production. Greater youth participation in the arts also would enhance the pipeline of local residents who grow up to participate in and enrich Chicago’s arts and culture community, like has happened with my son.”
Emanuel “Just as the Theater District revitalized the Loop into a thriving entertainment area, I would like to see that same energy invested in neighborhoods around the city. Pilsen has become a hub for independent artists and small galleries. Ravenswood’s old industrial buildings are quickly being converted to artist workspaces and administrative offices for some of the city’s small theater companies. I would like to see these neighborhood-based artistic communities grow across the city by prioritizing zoning and development funding for arts and cultural hubs. I also believe we should restore the Chicago Art Expo’s rightful place next to the Basel Expo in Miami.”
Hendon “I’m going to continue to bring the movie business back to Chicago, and it is my intention, especially as mayor, to make Chicago the movie-making capital of the world. That would be my great accomplishment. It would be great for the people of Chicago. What happens is, our stars leave and go elsewhere because they don’t have the infrastructure, they don’t have the support system. And when we get that support system back here, guess what? They will stay here. They will move here. And property values will be enhanced. We can do it.”
Meeks “Arts programming in the schools.”
Tyrrell “I would like to get more people to the Symphony, the Art Institute and opera.”
Walls “Additional focus on technology-related art, including stained glass, through greater use of nanotechnology applications.”
White “I would hope to have created 10,000s of jobs for the local economy. I see the citizens of Chicago on the West Side and the areas in the Heart of Chicago and South Sides with unemployment of upwards of 40 percent. I do not think that these people are worried about seeing more culture in the city—I think their main concern is, Where am I going to sleep tomorrow and if I am going to be able to eat.
“As far as culture, I would design four different ‘Chicago Trade Dollars’ showcasing Chicago’s great culture institutions. These would eventually be collected by tourists. I would also create a type of scratch-off game ticket to promote the history and culture of Chicago to all its citizens.”