CHICAGO — In an effort to infuse the city's neighborhoods with art, Mayor Rahm Emanuel announced Monday he will allow aldermen to spend $10,000 from their discretionary budget — usually reserved for road resurfacing and sidewalk repair — for murals, sculptures and other pieces of public art.
Declaring 2017 to be the Year of Public Art in Chicago, Emanuel said his office would invest $1.5 million in artist-led projects in each of Chicago's 50 wards.
Emanuel said the effort was a recognition that "art is vital to a neighborhood's spirit and the quality of life for residents."
Every year, aldermen get $1.3 million to spend on infrastructure projects in their ward. A handful of the 50 aldermen allow a vote of residents to determine how that money is spent.
The mayor's office will match the funds spent by aldermen on public art projects as part of the effort dubbed the 50x50 initiative, the mayor's office announced.
The guidelines for artists who want to apply will be available online in January, officials said.
In addition, $100,000 in grants from the Individual Artists Program will be earmarked for public art projects. More information about those grants is available at chicagoculturalgrants.org starting Nov. 1, with applicants required to attend assistance workshops before the application deadline of Jan. 13.
The mayor will also establish a Public Art Youth Corps paid internship program. Guidelines will be available in the coming months at onesummerchicago.org.
The city will also celebrate public art in Chicago with a series of exhibitions at the Chicago Cultural Center, 78 W. Washington St., including:
• "50x50 Invitational" featuring works by 50 artists representing all 50 wards from February through April;
• "The Wall of Respect," chronicling how 14 artists designed and produced the seminal mural for and within Chicago's black South Side communities in 1967 from March through July; and finally
• an untitled exhibition highlighting the murals of Pilsen, Little Village and other Latino communities in Chicago, which has not yet been scheduled, officials said.
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