Mayor Emanuel announces ‘Year of Chicago Theatre’ initiative

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2019 has been designated the “Year of Chicago Theatre,” a yearlong focus on the city’s vibrant theater scene. | Montage courtesy League of Chicago Theatres

All the world’s a stage, and some of the greatest stages in the world are right here in Chicago.

To celebrate the city’s vibrant life on the boards, Mayor Rahm Emanuel on Monday officially designated 2019 as the Year of Chicago Theatre.

The citywide, yearlong enterprise is billed as the first of its kind in the the nation and boasts performances spanning everything from dance and opera to puppetry and improv presented at hundreds of venues and parks across the city. It’s the latest chapter in the city’s arts and culture public initiatives, following 2018’s Year of Creative Youth and 2017’s Year of Public Art. Chicago is home to nearly 250 theaters.

“From world-renowned, Tony Award-winning stages to intimate storefront productions across the city, theater is essential to the cultural fabric of Chicago,” said Emanuel via statement Monday. “The Year of Chicago Theatre is a celebration of the talented actors, actresses, producers and directors throughout the city and downtown that work tirelessly to entertain audiences from around the world and right here at home.”

The city’ Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events (DCASE) revealed some of the year’s highlights, including:

• Pop-up theater performances and a theater-themed Millennium Park film series next summer

• Theater-themed public programs and exhibitions at the Chicago Cultural Center

• $200,000 in grants to theaters and other nonprofit theater programs, via the Cultural Grants Program

• Theater-themed events in all 77 community areas, as part of the Chicago Park District’s “Night Out in the Park” series.

“To truly fall in love with Chicago, you must go to our theaters. This is where the city bares its fearless soul,” saidCultural Affairs and Special Events Commissioner Mark Kelly in a statement. “From joy to heartache and every feeling in between, Chicago theatre tells stories that evoke big emotions.”

“Our dream goal for this initiative is that … Chicagoans and visitors will embrace theater as one of the things that truly sets Chicago apart from other cities,” said Deb Clapp, executive director of the League of Chicago Theatres, a co-presenter and partner in the initiative. Other partners includeDCASE, Choose Chicago, Broadway In Chicago and World Business Chicago.


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