Spurred by Mayor Rahm Emanuel, a one-time ballet dancer and long-time supporter of the arts, Chicago has embarked on an update to the city's Cultural Plan, which was drafted in 1986 under Mayor Harold Washington. The update began with four town-hall-style meetings held in Feubruary, part of a major public outreach effort that will also utilize social media. According to Bentley, "[t]he city will also host 19 'neighborhood cultural conversations' and ten 'cultural sector focus groups' in the coming months," with the aim to produce a draft plan by early summer.
The 1986 plan is credited with kick-starting the renovation of Navy Pier and spurring the creation of the North Loop Theatre District, both major tourist attractions.
Early feedback gathered during the current process points towards more locally focused initiatives. "[L]ocal participants have sounded a common refrain in Chicago politics: Focus on the neighborhoods. Many hope the new plan will decentralize the city's economic development, nourishing the artistic communities of Chicago's more than 200 neighborhoods," reports Bentley.