This summer, the Chicago Department of Cultural Affairs, in partnership with the Chicago Park District, will introduce two free pilot projects designed to offer even more opportunities for Chicago residents to experience the arts in their own communities.
“The Chicago Department of Cultural Affairs is committed to enhancing the lives of Chicagoans by offering lively and participatory cultural experiences, not only in our downtown venues like Millennium Park and the Cultural Center, but also in our many vibrant neighborhoods,” said Commissioner Lois Weisberg.
The first program is the Kraft Kidsmobile, an extension of an existing Chicago Park District program that is funded by Kraft Foods. On Saturdays and Sundays during August, vans staffed with teaching artists will travel to neighborhood block parties, festivals, back-to-school rallies and other community events. During each 90-minute visit, the artists will engage participants in a wide variety of activities that may include making giant community murals, creating sidewalk chalk art, making movable art objects, having poetry relays or learning dance moves and making up their own dances.
The second initiative is the Mobile Poetry Cart that will travel to similar types of neighborhood events. Staffed by The Speak’Easy Ensemble, the group will write and perform high-energy, personalized, made-to-order poems based on information provided by event participants. They will also lead writing activities for children.
Chicagoans can request either the Kraft Kidsmobile or Mobile Poetry Cart for their events by contacting their alderman. The Kidsmobile will be available on Saturdays and Sundays during most of the month of August, while the Mobile Poetry Cart will be available on Saturdays, July 25 and August 1, 15, 22, and 29. Both services will be available at no charge on a first-come, first-served basis.
For more information, please contact Caroline O’Boyle at 312-744-8928.
In addition to the Kraft Kidsmobile and the Mobile Poetry Cart, the Chicago Department of Cultural Affairs supports neighborhood arts programming in a number of ways. In the summer of 2009, the Chicago Office of Tourism, a division of the Department of Cultural Affairs, is putting the neighborhoods front and center by showcasing them during its summer tourism campaign, Explore Chicago: Take a Neighborhood Vacation. From Bronzeville to Beverly and Uptown to Pullman, the campaign highlights neighborhood activities that include free outdoor festivals, farmers markets, art fairs, gallery walks, and neighborhood tours. Additionally, the campaign features new programs that allow visitors and residents to explore Chicago, including Family Day Camps, Neighborhood Scavenger Hunts and more.
Also during the summer months, Chicago SummerDance, in partnership with the Chicago Park District, offers free dance lessons and live music performances in neighborhood parks, including Athletic Field Park, Humboldt Park Boathouse, Washington Park, and Jackson Park’s 63rd Street Beach. The Cultural Grants Division of the Department also runs the Neighborhood Arts Program, designed to encourage and support the presentation of high-quality instructional arts programs benefiting youth-at-risk, seniors, or persons with disabilities in Chicago’s low to moderate income neighborhoods.