Michelle Boone: Chicago’s Commissioner of Cultural Affairs and Special Events Steps Down

Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events–Commissioner Michelle Boone

Today, the Mayor’s office made the announcement of the departure of Commissioner Michelle T. Boone of the Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events (DCASE).

Mayor Emanuel named Mark Kelly as the new Commissioner of the Chicago Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events (DCASE) and will submit his nomination for City Council approval. Kelly will replace Michelle T. Boone, who has served as Commissioner since 2011 and is stepping down to pursue other professional endeavors. 

 “I’m excited to welcome Mark aboard a ship that’s steaming full-speed ahead, delivering more cultural opportunities with more benefits for Chicagoans than ever before. His deep experience in the arts and academics will allow us to continue building on our work to make Chicago a global destination for the arts and a great place to call home,” said Mayor Emanuel. “For five years Michelle has worked tirelessly to expand and innovate the arts across the city. She has successfully reimagined our most revered cultural traditions—including the Taste of Chicago and Blues Fest—and brought new experiences like the Architecture Biennial to our city. I can’t say enough about the work Michelle has done for Chicago, and while she’s pursuing another great opportunity, I think she knows she’ll still be hearing from me regularly.”

Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events--Commissioner Michelle Boone

Under Commissioner Boone’s tenure, the City of Chicago unveiled its first cultural plan in more than 25 years; developed and launched the inaugural Chicago Architecture Biennial; expanded support to Chicago’s creative industries and local artists with programs such as the Lake FX Summit + Expo; launched the Fifth Star Awards, a free public celebration event that celebrates and honors Chicagoans who have made significant contributions in the arts worldwide; developed the city’s first artist-in-residence program at the Chicago Cultural Center; revitalized signature festival events including the Chicago Jazz Festival and the Gospel Music Festival; and reimagined the Taste of Chicago to showcase more neighborhood-based offerings of diverse and renowned culinary favorites, and including food trucks in the festival for the first time ever. 

With these efforts Boone has made a lasting contribution to the city’s expansion of cultural events and public art experiences in neighborhoods, continuing Chicago’s legacy as a global destination for the very best in arts and cultural tourism.

Currently, Kelly is the Vice President for Student Success at Columbia College Chicago, where he has worked for more than 30 years to foster and oversee an immersive arts experience for Columbia’s burgeoning student body, across its100 different degree programs. Kelly has served in numerous leadership roles at Columbia, all while consistently supporting students who view the world through a creative lens in attaining a world-class education that blends creative and media arts, liberal arts and business. 

evolutionofhouseCommissioner Boone has brought an immense level of diversity to DCASE since 2011 assuring the various industries from Chicago’s music, art, film, fashion and culinary communities are well represented across the board. Under her leadership, the City of Chicago utilized its Cultural Center as a beacon of historical pride showcasing exhibits from the Move Your Body: Evolution of House, and other unique exhibits in addition to Wired Fridays giving various DJs a platform.

As we move into this year’s Taste of Chicago, this year’s festival will be one of the most integrated programs fusing Hip Hop into their live performance line-up with Chicago’s own Chance the Rapper and Grammy award winning artists The Roots for the opening night.

Kelly’s appointment is subject to City Council approval. He will begin in an interim capacity on August 15.

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