Thursday, December 16, 2010

The Dismantling of the DCA

Now this is disturbing: according to this article, this past Friday saw 20 employees of the City of Chicago Department of Cultural Affairs laid off, raising to 29 the total number laid off since October. This was apparently a result of both budget cuts and an upcoming merger with the Mayor's Office of Special Events. Jim DeRogatis, the author's article, noted that while Lois Weisberg, the city's legendary Cultural Commissioner, will lead the newly-merged department, the Mayor's Office of Special Events lost only one staff member (who was reassigned to another city department) to the DCA's 29.

There's a lot more political backstory to all of this that I won't go into here, and I highly recommend you read the story I linked and the four preceding it for a look at it all.

DeRogatis is a music writer, so perhaps it's no surprise that one very important question to Chicago theatregoers is being left unanswered: what will become of the DCA's theatre programs? They operate the Storefront and Claudia Cassidy Theatres, right in the Loop, and give some of the best companies in town a wonderful space in which to work. They consistently present really strong work--this year alone saw The Hypocrites' stunning Cabaret, one of the year's best shows. It's a beautiful space and a consistently excellent slate of shows, and it would be a serious loss to the community to have it go away. A press release indicates that shows are scheduled through July, but will these still happen with such a diminished staff? And will there be anything happening in the fall of 2011 and beyond?

Please post in the comments any thoughts you have, and especially if you know any more information.


mark jeffery said...

Scrooge is bloody here!! Looks like a Christmas Carol has come to the city of Chicago or is this another Meigs field bulldozer event for the arts? What the article doesnt say is that Claire Geall Sutton was laid off - she is the director of theatre at the DCA. What this means is no more SITE UNSEEN / and ta very much with the over 1000 people who showed up for IN>TIME performance festival last march and we have lost a REALLY important supporter and advocate of performance in the city!!!

Anonymous said...

DeRo didn't fact check this story. These folks aren't GONE they are transfered I think. At least the ones involved with Jazzfest like Mike Orlove.

Zev Valancy said...

It has been confirmed that Mike Orlove has gotten a job with the CTF, but it is with lower pay and without a city pension. And Claire Geall Sutton, from the theatre department, is just gone.