Mayor Richard M. Daley (D - Chicago, IL)

Local Arts Leadership
1997

Mayor Richard M. Daley of Chicago has placed a high importance on the partnership between private, local and federal arts support since first elected to office in 1989. He has been influential in promoting the arts as a universal language that crosses economic, social and cultural barriers, a role that he has accelerated since he became president of the United States Conference of Mayors in 1996. While numerous arts programs thrive under his support, one in particular has invited national attention: Gallery 37. Together with his wife Maggie, Mayor Daley has shepherded what began as a summer arts education and job training program with city high school students employed by the City of Chicago to create art for public spaces and is now a model program replicated in a dozen other cities across the country.

For Mayor Daley, the arts are a personal crusade. When the Cultural Affairs Commission needed a home, he called for the restoration of a beautiful old library where now, in addition to offices, daily events open to the public are held in a rotating exhibition and performance center. Because of his belief that the arts should be available to the widest possible audiences and his love for outdoor sculpture, Mayor Daley arranged for Chicago to be the first domestic site of the outdoor exhibit of Ferdando Botero sculptures. When Chicago hosted the recent major international conference On Educating Cities, he focused the meeting on the use of the arts as agents for social change. Mayor Daley earned a B.A. and law degree from DePaul University, and was elected State's Attorney of Cook County in 1980.