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6/19/2013 3:20:00 PM
Council Approves Arts Tsar (It's an Anagram)
By Shawn Jones

City Council approved three actions recommended by the preliminary evanstARTS report that are designed to promote the cultural arts within Evanston. The first recommendation, the hiring of an “Arts Tsar,” will create a new position within City government to coordinate arts promotion and activity within the City.

Judy Kemp, a driving force behind the evanstARTS movement, said the Tsar would be a “strong, cohesive force for the arts” who will “advance the arts as an economic driver for the City.” The final evanstARTS report, which has not yet been submitted but is “nearly complete” will reiterate the recommendation.

The Arts Tsar, officially the “Cultural Arts Coordinator,” will replace the current Arts Council Director. The evanstARTS preliminary report called the position “cabinet level.”

Evanston does not have a “cabinet,” said City Manager Wally Bobkiewicz, but it does have nine department directors, two coordinators and an assistant City Manager who report directly to the City Manager. The Cultural Arts Coordinator position will act like the other Coordinators. The Sustainability Coordinator promotes environmental initiatives across all City departments, and the intergovernmental affairs coordinator does the same for federal, state, and local government cooperation with Evanston. Mr. Bobkiewicz envisions the Cultural Arts Coordinator in the same light.

Currently, the City has a Director of the Arts Council, Jeff Cory, under the Parks and recreation department, said Mr. Bobkiewicz. During recent budget cutting, a program manager position, responsible for booking Starlight Concert performers, movies in the park, and overseeing arts programming, was eliminated and those responsibilities shifted to Mr. Cory.

Under the recommendation approved by Council, the programming manager position will be brought back and stay within the Parks and Recreation department, the Director of the Arts Council position will be eliminated, and the Cultural Arts Coordinator added, said Mr. Bobkiewicz. Mr. Bobkiewicz said the City planned the “broadest recruitment possible” in searching for the candidate with the best possible “grasp of the issues we face.”

The new position will cost the City between $50,000 and $65,000, plus benefits, for the new program manager position. According to Mr. Bobkiewicz, the new Coordinator will earn roughly the same as the current Director of the Arts Council, and will be added to the 2014 budget.

Council also approved two other recommendations. Mr. Bobkiewicz will begin “working with the Evanston Arts Council and evanstARTS steering committee to recommend to the City Council a task force to drive research, planning and implementation of the cultural vision.” The City Manager will also “work with the Evanston Arts Council to develop a new workplan for 2013-14 in keeping with the evanstARTS recommendations.”

Look for a final evanstARTS report, a new task force, a new workplan and a cabinet-level Arts Tsar soon.

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