City guts the Department of Cultural Affairs
A troubling post by Vocalo blogger Jim DeRogatis announces the gutting of the Department of Cultural Affairs, the organization responsible for the city's robust (and often gratis to the public) arts programming throughout the year at venues ranging from the Chicago Cultural Center to Millennium Park. DeRo reports that after nine layoffs to the department since October, 20 more staff members were cut last Friday, including senior programs director Michael Orlove, the man responsible for many of the DCA's most successful music series, including SummerDance and the World Music Festival. It was previously announced that the Mayors Office of Special Events would be folded into the DCA, along with the proposed privatization of several MOSE festivals including the annual blues, jazz, gospel and country fests. However, the city appears to be switching the script once again, transferring a large portion of the DCA's personnel budget to the Chicago Tourism Fund, which will reportedly assist the now-hobbled DCA in carrying out the WMF and the indie-rock–centric Downtown Sound along with all the other free programs prized by so many Chicagoans. DeRo makes no mention of whether Orlove might resurface at the CTF, which would seem to be a no-brainer were the city remotely interested in continuing the success it has had since he came aboard 17 years ago. It's unclear whether this upheaval is the result of a turf war, as DeRo posits, but it's confounding that such a critically adored department would be sabotaged like this with very little explanation. Calls to Orlove went unanswered, but to say that the loss of his expertise is also one for all Chicagoans is a gross understatement.
UPDATE, 12:20pm: Brian Keigher, Orlove's right hand man at the DCA, posted the following on Facebook in response to DeRogatis's story:
FYI, my good friend and mentor, Michael Orlove will still be working, but just under a new banner for Cultural Affairs moving forward. THANKS for all the emails and concern people! We're weathering more than just snow here, but stay tuned for some of Orlove's top notch events in 2011 as usual. Mike is the man!
Whether or not Orlove will be employed by the CTF is unclear, but it's a huge relief to know he'll remain at the helm of DCA programming.