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Chicago City Council demands review of Lolla’s “tax-free deal”

Lollapalooza lantern (more by Grant MacAllister)

As we recently posted about, Lollapalooza is essentially receiving 115 acres of land for free. They do contribute a large amount of money to the Parkways Foundation, however operate essentially tax-free on a yearly basis.

Jim DeRogatis recently caught up with the 1st Ward’s newly elected representative, Proco Joe Moreno for a chat. As Jim points out, Moreno has been pinned “the hipster alderman,” by publications such as Red Eye, and the A.V. Club Chicago. The 39-year old, who proudly has a vinyl copy of the 1984 Minor Threat compilation on display in his office was open, and relaxed with Derogatis…

Q. Alderman, the reason I’ve been eager to talk to you is that you seem to understand, in a way that Mayor Emanuel may not, that the Chicago music scene basically survived 21 years of barely masked hostility bordering on open warfare with the Daley administration. Things may or may not get better now. From your perspective, where do we stand? In particular, do you think there’s a possibility that Chicago may finally get some sort of Music Office, similar to what New Orleans, Austin, Memphis, and even Portland have–part civic booster, and part liaison to help venues, promoters, artists, and music businesses deal with the harsh bureaucracy? Do you think we need that?

A. We do need it. I think in the past people have said–and this is not my opinion–“Well, we have a special events or cultural affairs office; those encompass anything creative.” That’s not the way to look at things, especially when it comes to music, because of the incredible diversity. I think there is a good argument to have a city Music Office and then have people with different specialties within that. My problem is, and I have said this on [WBEZ], I think Chicago is beyond “a scene.” It has an incredible wealth of diverse music; it’s not Athens, and it’s not Seattle. It’s very mature in a good way, where the music community flourishes within itself. My only fear about establishing that kind of office is that it sanitizes it. I would love to have this office really give support, hopefully financial support, for planning, but then get out of the way and let the Empty Bottles of the world and the other collaboratives drive the festivals or just go about their daily operations.

Q. The last thing Chicago needs is more events at the level of Taste of Chicago as it was run for the last decade by the Mayor’s Office of Special Events.

A. Or you go to Myrtle Beach and you have this very stale thing with the city promoting music. We wouldn’t want that. But I think you agree with what I’ve been saying, that to have a music venue at all these days means you’re going to start out struggling. To have the city not “get” what you’re doing only makes things worse. Instead, they can really help in terms of saying, “I’m your liaison for your liquor license/occupancy/cabaret permit,” explaining and assisting with all those types of things instead of saying, “There are some punk-rock kids who want to run a club and they’re a pain in my ass; shut ’em down!”

Continue reading the interview HERE.

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