Attention mayoral candidates: What’s your stance on culture?

14 Feb

(Photo by Christine Hurley)

By Christine Hurley

It’s better to ask for forgiveness than permission. That’s what Michael Orlove, Senior Programs Director for Chicago’s Department of Cultural Affairs, said he learned while working with legendary Lois Weisberg, who recently left her position as Cultural Affairs Commissioner with an election cloud hanging over the city’s arts’ scene.

“Lois, more than anyone, paved the way,” he said of Chicago’s international reputation as a thriving cultural metropolis.

Rick Kogan and Howard Reich of the Chicago Tribune did a tag team interview with Orlove during a recent taping of “Chicago Live!”, with both critics expressing worry that mayoral candidates are not addressing the reputation’s future. The Tribune event occurred on the day it was announced Taste of Chicago would remain a free event, which had been debated in recent weeks.

“I’m very confident this summer and fall will be fantastic,” said Orlove. “…better than last year.”

For obvious reasons, Orlove did not express favoritism among the mayoral candidates, but everyone was mildly critical that the arts and culture scene has not been a campaign issue to any great extent.

With the city in a financial crisis—despite what Carol Moseley Braun has said—the new mayor has a huge task ahead of him or her as to how to save the city’s free cultural events, Kogan and Reich agreed.

“Chicago is unique,” said Reich. “No city on this level offers to hundreds of thousands of people world class attractions like we do for free.”

Orlove did say he hopes whoever is elected takes the work Lois and other have done and runs with it. “What we have in Chicago is a gift,” he said.

Hit the Chicago Tribune for the full interview.

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