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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
February 6, 2007

Illinois Arts Council Announces Strategic Directions 2007-2012
Goal to build public will for the important role and value of the arts and creativity in building vital, prosperous, livable communities.

Chicago – The Illinois Art Council (IAC) will work over the next five years to educate a growing number of people in the state about the value of the arts and the role art and creativity can play to strengthen communities and contribute to the education of thousands of Illinois children, according to IAC’s Strategic Directions submitted to Governor Rod R. Blagojevich and the General Assembly.

“The Strategic Directions constitute a blueprint for strengthening communities by building a better future for the arts in the State of Illinois,” says Illinois Arts Council Chairman Shirley R. Madigan. “The values and objectives the Council has enumerated will ensure that our children have opportunities to participate in quality arts activities in their schools or in other community arts programs; artists are recognized who contribute to the state’s rich and diverse artistic legacy; that creative vitality will be fostered and made sustainable statewide; and that strength will be added to the State of Illinois’ creative economy.”

Under the new Strategic Directions for 2007-2012, the IAC will shift from making art accessible to actively engaging Illinoisans of all ages and abilities in arts and culture. By increasing public will for the arts, the IAC hopes to build toward a stronger, more creative, and more connected state. With this goal in mind, the IAC will work over the next five years towards increasing art appreciation throughout communities in Illinois, strengthening the cultural community and their connection to the broader community, increasing educational opportunities for Illinoisans – especially children – in the arts, and better equipping their own organization to anticipate and respond to the needs of the Illinois arts community. 
 
Supporting strategies will address, among other issues, the day-to-day challenges facing individual artists, arts educators, and arts and community organizations in Illinois and new opportunities for the arts and cultural community in the global marketplace. 


“The Strategic Directions for 2007-2012 reflect the vision the Illinois arts and culture community has for the agency,” says IAC Executive Director Terry A. Scrogum. “With this new plan, we believe the Illinois Arts Council is particularly well positioned to move forward and serve the public to the fullest of our ability.”


The IAC developed the plan based upon the findings of a public listening tour, surveys, and assessments of the needs of the arts statewide. The Council and a 21-member Strategic Plan Task Force chaired by Council Member Harper Montgomery began a Public Listening Tour in January of 2006. For four months, information gathering sessions were held in fifteen communities and attended by artists, arts educators, arts and community organizations, patrons of the arts, libraries, media outlets, park districts, business leaders, legislators and other government leaders, and members of the general public.

“We heard that the state of the arts in Illinois is robust and its contribution to our quality of life is recognized by many,” says Madigan. “However, feelings of isolation are widespread, survival is a day-to-day challenge, and the Illinois Arts Council has only modest presence beyond those actively involved in the arts. A clear consensus emerged from this process on the need for the agency to become a much more active and visible champion of the arts.”

Additional input for the plan was gained through topic-specific discussion groups, an online survey, a news audit, agency grant documentation, and a comprehensive review of local and national studies and reports related to building public support for the arts.

Dates and locations are currently being scheduled to present and discuss the new strategic directions throughout the state at each of the Public Listening Tour areas. More information will be provided on the Illinois Arts Council website as soon as it is finalized.

The entire plan, as submitted to Governor Blagojevich and the Illinois General Assembly in January, is available online at: http://www.state.il.us/agency/iac/Stratplan1.pdf. Print copies of the Strategic Directions 2007-2012 are available upon request by contacting Alex A.G. Shapiro, IAC Research, Planning, & Marketing, at 312/814-6762 or emailing iac.strategic@illinois.gov



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