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Arts leaders speak up -- is Rahm listening?
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Cultural figures sound off on what should happen in the Emanuel era

Chicago may be a famously spectacular setting for arts and entertainment, but the city needs to bulk up for the future -- according to those who make culture happen here.

In coming months and years, they say, the city needs to build a music district. Rebuild the Department of Cultural Affairs. And blow up the foreboding stairs that front the Museum of Contemporary Art.

That's not all: Re-imagine the summertime music festivals, so they spread beyond Grant Park and into the city's clubs and concert halls. Bring music and dance and theater to the city's poorest neighborhoods, not just its most affluent. Make sure every kid gets equal access to arts education, no matter where he or she goes to school.

You've heard about the League of Chicago Theatres, which promotes and nurtures the city's sprawling theater industry? How about a League of Chicago Comedy? A stronger dance ecosystem? A network of 100-seat performing arts spaces across the city?

With Mayor Rahm Emanuel's new administration just getting into gear, Tribune reporters Mark Caro, Nina Metz and I asked some of Chicago's savviest cultural players to answer three questions: What would you most like to see happen culturally in Chicago in the next six months? How would you measure success six months from now? What's the biggest change you hope will have taken effect four years from now?

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