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City Set To Unveil New Cultural Plan, Calls For New ‘Museum Campus South’

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Museum Of Science And Industry

The Museum Of Science And Industry (Credit: Museum Of Science And Industry)

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CHICAGO (CBS) — The city is set to unveil a plan Monday for making Chicago an even greater cultural destination.

As WBBM Newsradio’s Bernie Tafoya reports, Chicago Cultural Plan 2012 is still in the working stages. A final draft is due in the fall.

LISTEN: WBBM Newsradio’s Bernie Tafoya reports

But among the ideas being considered is developing a Museum Campus deeper on the South Side, similar to the one that connects the Field Museum, Shedd Aquarium and Adler Planetarium. The “Museum Campus South” would connect the Museum of Science and Industry with the DuSable Museum of African-American History.

Unlike the three museums just south of downtown, the MSI and the DuSable Museum are more than a mile apart. But they are already connected indirectly by a ribbon of green space in the form of the Midway Plaisance, which links Jackson Park with Washington Park and comprises the front yard for the University of Chicago campus.

Reports on the plan in the Chicago Sun-Times and Crain’s Chicago Business do not specify exactly what creating the “Museum Campus South” would involve, what such a campus would look like, or whether any U of C institutions might also be included in the campus. The report does say the project would take 10 to 20 years and would cost more than $1 million for “new capital infrastructure.”

In the shorter term, the plan envisions matching grants for cultural arts supported by private donations, grants and incentives to boost the local film industry, equitable access to arts education for all children, schools and art forms, and a new “311 for culture” interactive manual for cultural providers.

Also proposed is a permanent festival site for large city-sponsored festivals, with permanent booths for vendors, indoor and outdoor facilities, and year-round programs, the Sun-Times reported.

Crain’s says the plan also calls for improving the permitting process so that art and food trucks can operate throughout the city. Also advised is an expansion of library evening hours, which would undo a cut made by Mayor Rahm Emanuel in the city budget this year.

The plan also calls for a Chicago River cultural festival all along the river citywide, cultural kiosks called “You Are Here!”at city transportation hubs, and moves to attract “internationally renowned trade shows,” according to the Crain’s report.

Use of Tax Increment Financing money to provide affordable housing for artists, Crain’s reported.

Specific ideas for new festivals are also included, such as a “FutureFest” digital arts festival linked with trade show and venture capitalists, Crain’s reported.

The plan also calls for a new dedicated tax for arts and culture, the Sun-Times reported.

The last cultural plan was drafted under Mayor Harold Washington more than 25 years ago. It set the stage for the redevelopment of Navy Pier from an underutilized festival space into what quickly became the state’s top tourist attraction, the development of the North Loop theatre district on Randolph Street, among other major achievements.

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