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Fall 2011 Workshops: City Cultural Planning

The Cultural Policy Center partnered with the City of Chicago's Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events to put on a series of workshops on city cultural planning, just as Chicago gears up to create its own cultural plan.

For more on the partnership between the CPC and DCASE, see this news article.


Revisiting the Chicago Cultural Plan

Michael C. Dorf, Director of the original Chicago Cultural Plan; partner at Adducci, Dorf, Lehner, Mitchell & Blankenship, P.C.; Adjunct Full Professor at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago

Tuesday, October 4, 12:00-1:20 p.m.
Harris School of Public Policy Studies
1155 E. 60th St.
Room 289B 

In one of his first acts as Mayor of Chicago, Rahm Emanuel has directed the Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events to revisit the Chicago Cultural Plan, developed under the Harold Washington Administration in the mid 1980s, and prepare a new plan to "create new strategies that promote vibrant arts and cultural hubs in every community and help to anchor economic growth on every side of the city." The Chicago Cultural Plan was a nationally praised document, and marked the first time in any major city that grassroots organizing was used as the basis for cultural planning. Michael C. Dorf, Director of the original Chicago Cultural Plan, will discuss the politics and process of creating a cultural plan for a city, and the likely results of Mayor Emanuel's new planning efforts.

Michael C. Dorf is a partner in the Chicago law firm Adducci, Dorf, Lehner, Mitchell & Blankenship, P.C., and Adjunct Full Professor at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. In addition to his work on the Chicago Cultural Plan, he served as Special Counsel to the late Congressman Sidney R. Yates, formulating policies for the National Endowment for the Arts and other federal cultural organizations. He also acted as Legal Affairs Consultant to the presidentially appointed Independent Commission reviewing the policies of the NEA during the 1990's and was a Co-Convenor of President Obama's Arts Policy Task Force during the 2008 presidential campaign. Michael is a member of the board of Arts Alliance Illinois, the Illinois Humanities Council, and has recently been appointed by Governor Pat Quinn as a member of the Illinois Community College Board.


Awakening the Creative Voice: Building Creative Capital in Cities and Communities

Alan Brown, Principal, WolfBrown, is a researcher and consultant in the arts industry, and author of numerous studies on audience behaviors and patterns of cultural participation.

Tuesday, October 18, 12:00-1:20 p.m.
Harris School of Public Policy Studies
1155 E. 60th St.
Room 289B

Download the paper [PDF]

A sea change in arts policy is underway, as evidenced by the NEA's new focus on "creative place-making" and the shift in cultural planning to a more broad based effort to situate the arts with the "creative industries." This change in focus has spawned numerous efforts to develop better logic models and measurement systems for assessing the impact of investments in culture, including a number of "creative vitality indexes" under development now. As arts funders and advocates struggle to make connectionsbetween arts programs, businesses and the civic agenda, we still suffer forlack of a clearer vision of what a creative community looks like. In his remarks, Alan Brown will offer a potential model for building "creative capital" in cities and communities across the US. Participants will be asked to consider what conditions are optimal for creativity to flourish in a community like Chicago.


City, Know Thyself: the Cultural Audit and Strategic Planning

Alan Freeman, Cultural Economist

Tuesday, October 25, 4:00-5:30 p.m.
Chicago Cultural Center
78 East Washington Street
First Floor Garland Room

This talk will assess current work on the evidence base for city cultural planning. It will focus on the Cultural Audit of London, for which Freeman was the lead author whilst working for the Mayor of London, England. The Audit's evidence was extensively used to formulate the Mayor of London's Cultural Strategy, and has excited worldwide interest. An update is set to appear in 2012, when London holds its next election and hosts the next Olympics.

Freeman will critically reflect on the relation between alternative indicators, such as those in the audit and in other city indicators such as Chicago's cultural vitality indicators, and more traditional economic indicators such as GDP, employments and firm counts in the creative or IP-based industries, arguing that a wider palette of measures is indispensible to good strategic judgement.

He will take a critical look at the growing trend towards 'City Rankings' provoked by such products as the Anholt Index, Y/Zen's Global Financial Centres Index, and the Price-Waterhouse Coopers Intellectual Capital index. These products induce city planners to conceive their strategic objectives as climbing mythical ladders, but can obstruct the central goal of strategic planning which is to grasp what is distinct, not what is better, about each city, as a means to frame its relationship to its neighbours, its neighbourhood, and the world.

Alan Freeman was principal economist in the Greater London Authority's Economic Analysis Unit from 2001 to 2011, and now writes and advises on cultural policy. Whilst with the GLA's intelligence unit he produced a series of reports that defined the field of measuring the cultural and creative industry activity of large cities. These were Creativity: London's Core Business, the first comprehensive study of London's cultural and creative industries, five subsequent updates, and London: A Cultural Audit, a rigorous comparison of the cultural offer of London, Shanghai, Paris, New York and Tokyo. Alan is now working on the 2011 update in a private capacity. His was also responsible for the unit's work on the Living Wage and city benchmarking, in both of which he maintains an active interest. Alan's email is His research and scholarly publications can be accessed via His work for the GLA has been collated at


The Triumph of the Urban, Gentrification and Sprawl

Robert Bruegmann, Professor Emeritus of Art History, Architecture and Urban Planning at the University of Illinois at Chicago

Tuesday, November 8, 12:00-1:20 p.m.
Harris School of Public Policy Studies
1155 E. 60th St.
Room 289B

In recent years there has been much talk about the fact that for the first time in history over half the population of the world lives in urban areas. This news has been accompanied by a wave of celebratory literature and commentary about the supposed benefits of high density cities and the creativity they are supposed to unleash.

However, this supposed triumph of the urban has taken place during a period in which virtually every central city in the world has been declining in population or at least seeing a decline in its share of population in the larger urban region. In fact, the simultaneous lowering of density, cleaning up and sorting out of functions that has accompanied gentrification at the urban core and the boom in population, jobs and diversity at the suburban periphery has thrown into question many of the most venerable assumptions about what it means to be urban. At very least these urban transformations suggest that policies based on preserving traditional ideas about cities may be out of date and counter-productive.

Robert Bruegmann is an historian of architecture, landscape and the built environment. He received his BA from Principia College in 1970 and his Ph.D. from the University of Pennsylvania in 1976 with a dissertation on late 18th and early 19th century European hospitals and other institutions. In 1977 he became assistant professor in the Art History Department at the University of Illinois at Chicago where he is currently Professor with appointments in the School of Architecture and the Program in Urban Planning and Policy. He has also taught at the University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia College of the Arts, MIT and Columbia University. He has also worked for the Historic American Buildings Survey and Historic American Engineering Record of the National Park Service.


Before and After the Creative City: The Politics of Urban Cultural Policy in Austin, Texas

Carl Grodach, Assistant Professor in the School of Urban and Public Affairs at the University of Texas at Arlington

Thursday, November 17, 4:00-5:30 p.m.
Chicago Cultural Center
78 East Washington Street
First Floor Garland Room

This workshop will examine the politics and practice of urban cultural policy in Austin, Texas. Grodach will demonstrate how aspects of the local context frame how local government and cultural sector interests strive to initiate the direction of policy. While larger trends influence cultural policy and planning, specific contextual factors — including prior economic development and growth management policy, the forum for interaction between municipal actors and non-governmental coalitions, and the character of the city's cultural economy — mediate such trends to produce policy outcomes. As this case shows, contemporary urban cultural policy is not simply due to the rise of the creative city discourse, but is an evolving product of past policy structures and shaped by local institutions and actors.

Carl Grodach is an assistant professor in the School of Urban and Public Affairs at the University of Texas at Arlington. His research focuses on the urban development impacts of cultural planning and policy. This work has appeared in a variety of journals including the Community Development Journal, International Journal of Cultural Policy, Journal of Planning Education and Research, Journal of Urban Affairs, and the Journal of Urban Design. He is co-editor (with Dan Silver) of the forthcoming book The Politics of Urban Cultural Policy: Global Perspectives (Routledge).


Beyond the Creative City — cultural policy in an age of scarcity

Dr Jonathan Vickery, Associate Professor in the Centre for Cultural Policy Studies, University of Warwick

download the paper (PDF)

This workshop will take an unusual, and exciting, form: we are joining Dr. Vickery via Skype as he presents his lecture in Birmingham, UK. We will have a webcam set up so that, barring any internet gremlins, we will be able to ask questions following the presentation.

The event is hosted by MADE, an architecture and built environment centre that promotes quality place-making.

Thursday, December 8, 12:00-1:20 p.m.
Harris School of Public Policy Studies
1155 East 60th Street
Room 289B

"I will be asking broad questions on the way we think, plan and activate cultural change in urban contexts, particularly in the context of changing the cities we live in. Policy is the realm where theory and practice are put together, and since the 1980s cultural policy has promoted a vision of a 'creative city', where the artistic activities of its citizens were key to making distinctive and exciting places to live.

"Throughout the 1990s cultural 'activity' was increasingly framed by large capital building projects, and an emphasis on the urban infrastructure and its provision of cultural facilities, or else manoeuvred into social service provision. 'Urban regeneration', and the public funding that followed it, is no longer a secure place for our developing cultural aspirations.

"So what and how can we re-think strategic cultural action?

"We know that compelling city environments do not need wealth or grand architecture, as desirable as these are. How can we re-think policy in a time of scarcity? Our established cultural institutions will remain, of course, but can we find broader routes for cultural action through artists, experimental architects, urban interventionists, creative communities and cultural entrepreneurship? What are our options?"

Dr Jonathan Vickery is Associate Professor in the Centre for Cultural Policy Studies, University of Warwick. He has been a Henry Moore research fellow, a director of a research initiative into management and aesthetics called The Aesthesis Project, editor of the journal Aesthesis, and reviews editor and regular contributor to Art & Architecture Journal. He has published articles on urban space, public art, regeneration and art theory: he has co-edited with Diarmuid Costello Art: Key Contemporary Thinkers (Oxford: Berg, 2007) editor and author of FLASH@Hebburn (London: A&AJ). He also works as an art critic. At the moment he is writing a book on art, cultural politics and the public sphere, and developing the Art and Architecture Journal with Jeremy Hunt, involving a new website for urban research and a cultural documentary program.