Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Save Chicago Culture

After tomorrow, a huge part of Chicago culture could cease to exist.

If you live in Chicago or know anyone who lives here and you're even remotely connected with the Chicago arts scene, then I hope and pray that you've been made aware of this.

But just in case...

This is by Theresa Carter at The Local Tourist, who, in my opinion, best sums up this issue...

"On May 14 the City Council will vote on an ordinance requiring any event promoter to have a license and liability insurance. That doesn’t sound so bad, except the language is so broad individual bands and theater groups could be included. Most are operating on such tight margins this would effectively put them out of 'business.' Problem is, musicians and actors and other artists are in the business of creating art. The venues are in the business of providing a safe environment and already have licenses and insurance. This is duplicate regulation versus enforcing laws that are already on the books.

"Performers are exempt from this ordinance, with one glaring exception: if the performer 'exercises no other financial or non-performance-related operational responsibility in connection therewith.' Bands are often required to sell their own tickets. So are actors. They do their own advertising and promotion."

Sidenote: I do my own advertising and promotion when I do cabaret shows at Davenport's. Which would mean that I would have to get a license and insurance.

Cabaret shows are best described by a local musical director as "Your expensive hobby." Cabaret singers already rarely break even and more often than not, we end up spending our own money, sometimes hundreds of dollars, to cover the costs of our show expenses that can't be covered by ticket sales in a room that only holds 80 people (if we're lucky enough to even GET 80 people, that is).

"There have been some comments that event promoters should be licensed just like any other business. Yes, some actors and some musicians go on to make ridiculous sums of money, but the overwhelming majority struggle day to day, put in hours of practice after working full-time jobs, and receive little to nothing financially in return. Their 'job' is to entertain. It is the venue’s job to provide a safe environment, and there are already laws in place to ensure that safety.

"The arts have a long history of patronage. Today’s artists don’t have wealthy benefactors to support them while they create something beautiful, moving, thought provoking, amusing, or entertaining. Instead they have us - the patron that will gladly pay our $5 or $12 or $15 to experience their creativity."
Here's the important part...
The part where you respond and help keep this from happening right now...

"Please, if you feel half as strongly as I do about protecting our vital and vibrant arts and music scene, visit SaveChicagoCulture.org and leave a comment. Chicago Acoustic Underground and The Local Tourist will be presenting comments from this site to every single Alderman and to the Chicago City Council. On the site you can also find your specific representative to contact individually."

Please go to SaveChicagoCulture.org and leave a comment. Or if you live in Chicago, call your Alderman today and let him know that you are against this ordinance.

Two thousand dollars every two years may not sound like a lot of money to the woman pushing the double stroller and sipping her venti mocha latte as she brushes past me through the Gold Coast, but if I have to pay $2,000 for a license, then another $700 for insurance, then get a background check, get fingerprinted and inform the police about my show at least 7 days in advance IN ORDER TO DO A ONE HOUR FRIGGIN' CABARET SHOW, you can bet your sweet ass that I will be closing up shop in the Windy City and heading somewhere more arts-friendly.

P.S. Venues with more than 500 seats would be exempt from this ordinance, which means once again that the little guy is getting fucked while the big guy is getting rich.


Theresa Carter said...


Thank you for helping to get the word out about this incredibly damaging legislation. Performers like you are why this has to be stopped.

Hopefully tomorrow night we'll all be celebrating!!

Theresa Carter

whimsical brainpan said...

That sucks! I am so sorry. I hope that it gets defeated.

Jackie said...

I heard about this on the radio yesterday. Thanks for the links.