Chicago Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events Commissioner Mark Kelly will retire this fall, Mayor Lori Lightfoot said on Tuesday.
Kelly was appointed to his post of commissioner of DCASE in July 2016 by former Mayor Rahm Emanuel after having worked more than 40 years as an administrator for several universities, including Columbia College Chicago, Wayne State University and City Colleges of Chicago .
A press release from the mayor’s office said Kelly’s leadership in the post-COVID recovery has prepared the city for a resurgence in the arts.
“After sixteen tumultuous months of fighting the pandemic and defending Chicago’s cultural community, Commissioner Kelly’s leadership has set the stage for a very strong recovery in the arts with various artistic and cultural programs and investments that will continue with the introduction new leadership in the department, “the statement said.
In her time, Kelly worked to bring partners across town to invest in a number of public art projects, including $ 18.5 million to support public art in different neighborhoods and $ 25 million to support monuments honoring Jean Baptiste Point DuSable and his wife, Kitihawa, among other initiatives.
As curator, Kelly addressed inequalities in the arts by introducing several programs that prioritized Chicago’s south and west sides, including Chicago Presents, the Artists Response Program, Culture in My Neighborhood, and the Neighborhood Access Program.
A national search will begin immediately while Kelly completes her tenure and will end before her retirement in the fall.