Chicago Unveils Plans to Boost Art, Cultural Opportunities

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According to the Chicago Sun-Times, Mayor Rahm Emanuel has unveiled a plan that would emphasize the arts in the city in a new way. The arts would become a "core subject" in Chicago Public Schools and classes in drama, dance, visual art, and music would be offered at every grade level. In addition, the plan outlines having at least one teacher qualified to teach these subjects at each school.

Here are some facts and details about the plan, including what it would mean for the city and CPS students:

* The plan comes as part of the Chicago Cultural Plan 2012, which has been under discussion since February, noted the Chicago Tribune. Residents were given the chance to voice their comments in numerous town hall meetings.

* Changes made to art opportunities at CPS schools will be developed through a collaboration between the Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events and the school district.

* Elementary school students would receive 120 minutes per week of art instruction.

* Crain's Chicago Business added that the plans extend well beyond schools. It also includes easing zoning rules for artists who work out of their homes and creating low-cost health insurance programs for Chicago's self-employed artists.

* A main goal of the Chicago Cultural Plan is to attract and keep artists and creative professionals in the city.

* It further outlines the importance of bringing more cultural and art opportunities to neighborhoods and providing more resources for cultural centers.

* Over 60,000 jobs in Chicago are in creative industries and provide an economic impact of $2.2 billion.

* Mayor Emanuel said of the goals and details, "Chicago already boasts an incredible arts and cultural sector. Chicago's new cultural plan identifies ways the arts can build."

* This makes it the first time such a cultural plan has been launched since former mayor Harold Washington's administration in 1986, according to the Associated Press.

* Funding for the plan was provided by a grant through the Illinois Arts Council and the Chicago Community Trust.

* The next step is for a draft plan to be created that will delve into details on how to fully implement and fund the goals, as well as a timeline, over the next two years.

* Estimates in the executive summary note that 34 percent of the initiatives cost less than $50,000 to operate and 17 percent cost more than $1 million.

* So far, the Arts Education Plan and the separate goals of the Chicago Cultural Plan only have $1 million allocated for the implementation.

Rachel Bogart provides an in-depth look at current environmental issues and local Chicago news stories. Currently pursuing her master's degree in environmental science, she applies her knowledge and passion to both topics to garner further public awareness.

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