Since its establishment in 1971, the Old Town Merchants and Residents Association (OTMRA) has served as the voice of the Old Town community, advocating city services for businesses and residents including community policing, street cleaning, lighting and community planning. Working in partnership with 27th Ward Alderman Walter Burnett and 43rd Ward Alderman Michele Smith, the association addresses issues concerning streetscape maintenance, commercial and residential development, zoning and parking. They also present the Wells Street Art Festival.
The 40th Wells Street Art Festival will be held on Saturday, June 14 and Sunday, June 15. Every year, upwards of 50,000 visitors arrive in Old Town to experience the Wells Street Art Festival — one of the City of Chicago’s premiere art events. In 2014, Wells Street will be packed with over 250 artists showing off and selling wares ranging from photography, ceramics, paintings and glasswork. The association distributes proceeds raised during the festival to various community organizations, including the Near North Library Friends Association.