City releases culture, school arts plans

City officials Monday morning announced two plans aimed at supporting increased arts programming -- one for the city as a whole and one for Chicago Public Schools.

The citywide plan -- a draft of which was hailed as "an amazing document" by National Endowment for the Arts Chairman Rocco Landesman in July -- calls for more flexibility in city regulations governing the arts and aims to use Chicago's arts attractions to draw international tourists. The plan also promotes the development of what it calls "cultural districts" in areas such as Uptown and Bronzeville, according to a copy of the executive summary that was provided early to reporters.

Development of the plan was overseen by Toronto-based Consulting firm Lord Cultural Resources, which got a $230,000 city contract to coordinate more than 30 public meetings, study the city and consult with experts. Most if not all of the money came from grants and donations, the city has said.

Suggestions for the plan in public meetings held earlier this year ranged from more accommodating permitting and licensing laws for people who make and sell art to better transportation to areas of cultural interest. But at almost every meeting residents called for strengthening arts education for K-12 students. The CPS Arts Education Plan aims to combine those suggestions with research, best practices in other cities and additional public input and to increase arts offerings in Chicago Public Schools. That document, which was released Monday, calls for 120 minutes per week of arts instruction in elementary schools and expanding arts requirements for high school students. The ed plan also calls for more arts teachers.

Chicago Public Schools also plans to rely on a mix of public and private funding for its initiative, according to the plan's Web site.

Forty-five of the more than 600 Chicago Public Schools did not have a certified arts teacher in the 2010-2011 school year, according to a data analysis by Ingenuity Incorporated, a Chicago-based arts education advocacy and support organization involved in crafting the education plan. Those schools may offer art classes taught by outside groups or by other teachers, the organization said.

Copyright © 2015, RedEye
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