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Small and unelected elite killing Lucas Museum

Filmmaker George Lucas seeks to build a museum on Chicago's lakefront. | AP file photo

I am outraged. Chicago was handed a beautiful gift on a silver platter, the Lucas Museum of Narrative Art, which could have been a cultural experience that would have drawn millions of attendees after it was built. But we are being told that we — the good people of Chicago and its surrounding suburbs — cannot accept it or even consider it, for that matter.

This incredible gift is going to be given to some other city. Not because we said that we don’t want it, but because the board members of a not-for-profit, called Friends of the Parks, have decided they do not want it.

The following men and women — Robert P. Gordon, Deborah Strauss, Troy McMillan, Lauren Moltz, Fred Bates, Jackie Sloan, Sylvia Jones, Lynda Birkelbach, Alicia Pond, Serge Pierre­ Louis, Patricia Ballman, Victor Bernhard, Paul Boyd, Mark Calderone, Oscar D’Angelo, Sean Durkin, Ian Grossman, Diana Harris, Gavin McCarty, Janet Reali, Richard Simon, Bryan Whitehead, Rachel C. Steiner, Kevin Cook, Gavin Tun, Carolyn Wortham and Kim du Buclet — have decided to engage in a prolonged and costly court battle to prevent the Lucus Museum of Narrative Art from being built in Chicago.

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Their plan was simple — make it so undesirable, difficult and challenging to build the museum in Chicago due to the promise of litigation and court appeals that George Lucas and Mellody Hobson would have no choice but to find a new location in a different city and in a different state. Well done! You did it! Are you proud of yourselves?

Do you understand that you — the collective board of Friends of the Parks — decided on all of our behalf that we don’t want increased tourism or the dollars that flow from a visit to an attraction (lodging, transportation , food, etc….)? I guess you also decided we don’t want job-creation for those who would have constructed the facility and those who would have worked there. You also determined that our school children and young adults do not need any more educationally-based field trips, experiences or accessible cultural venues.

Regardless of the outcome of this particular dispute, it has become more apparent to me that the Friends of the Parks is nothing more than an obstructionist, visionless and disruptive group of volunteers who should not have ultimate control over decisions affecting the future and vibrancy of our great city. Something has to change!

Norman R. Bobins, The Loop

Lucas Museum good for arts tourism

For the past three decades, Arts Alliance Illinois has collected data on how the arts and culture sector impacts Chicago. The research has consistently shown that this sector, including museums, delivers numerous benefits, such as strengthening our city’s economy through job creation and increased tourism. Consideration of these benefits must continue to inform discussions around the Lucas Museum as compromise is sought.

Arts and culture power Chicago’s economy. Arts and Economic Prosperity IV, an extensive study conducted by the Alliance in partnership with Americans for the Arts, has shown that Chicago’s nonprofit arts and culture sector is a $2.2 billion industry. Each year, the sector supports 60,000 full-time-equivalent jobs, generates $1.3 billion in local household income, and delivers $214 million in local and state government revenue.

Cultural tourism represents a key component of our city’s overall business strategy and has a particularly high return on investment. One in three attendees of arts and culture events in Chicago, including museum visits, come from outside Cook County; and these cultural tourists spend 2.5 times more – on meals, gifts, transportation, childcare, and lodging – than local attendees.

Working together, we must take advantage of unique opportunities, like the Lucas Museum, to capitalize on the economic power of cultural tourism. In the Arts and Economic Prosperity IV study, nearly half of all cultural event attendees – resident and non-resident – said they would have traveled to a different community in order to attend a similar event. In other words, if Chicago does not offer these experiences, even local residents will travel elsewhere to get them.

In providing a one-of-a-kind cultural experience, the Lucas Museum will bolster Chicago’s economy. The museum is expected to generate over $2 billion in increased tourism spending during its first decade of operation and deliver $120 million to $160 million in new tax revenue. It will create 1,500 to 2,500 construction jobs and more than 350 full-time, ongoing positions, providing a combined $405 million to $530 million in wages during the museum’s first ten years.

The Alliance encourages all parties involved in the Lucas Museum decision to keep these benefits in mind as they work toward a compromise in the best interest of the city.

Kassie Davis


Board Chair


Arts Alliance Illinois

Paul Ryan rolls over

For a minute there, I actually thought we were going to see a rare show of integrity by a politician. Maybe even some genuine concern for the American public. A couple of days ago, House Speaker Paul Ryan said he was not ready to endorse Donald Trump. What a bombshell! Now, after a come-to-Jesus meeting the two men, we’re told that it was very positive. That didn’t take much! I’m sure the meeting went something like this. ” Look I know you two can’t stand each other, but if we don’t get our stories straight the gravy train we are riding is going to come to a very abrupt stop for all of us.”

Ken Karlson, Wheaton

CPS stomps on free speech

We are supposed to teach children that their opinions have merit and can be voiced, but the conduct of the Board of Education toward school principal Troy LaRaviere conveys that free speech doesn’t apply to administrators. I taught for 35 years, and Troy LaRaviere is telling the truth.

Sheila Dukelsky, West Ridge