Redmoon Founder and Executive Artistic Director Jim Lasko and the Chicago Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events today announce the 15 neighborhoods that will serve as official neighborhood partners for the Great Chicago Fire Festival, hosting Community Engagement Summer Celebrations leading up to the Festival culmination, a performance and pyrotechnic spectacle on the main branch of the Chicago River, October 4. The 15 city neighborhoods, anchored by 35 different civic and cultural organizations, will partner with Redmoon to present free, public events and art activities from June through September. This announcement follows a citywide request for proposals from community-based organizations issued by Redmoon last November. The 15 official Great Chicago Fire Festival neighborhoods are Albany Park, Austin, Avondale, Bronzeville, Englewood, Humboldt Park, Little Village, North Lawndale, Old Town, Pilsen, Roseland, South Chicago, South Shore, Uptown and Woodlawn.
The 15 Fire Festival neighborhoods will host Redmoon artists at various Community Engagement Summer Celebrations to engage the public as empowered citizens through art. Activities will include:
- Neighborhood Barbeques – Based around the celebration of food, Redmoon will bring into each neighborhood its newest food serving device, the 15-foot-tall and 15-foot in diameter BBQ Cyclone Grill, a motorized carousel featuring a total of 9 Weber Grills in three elevated grilling stations and a wireless DJ station and speakers. Over fresh and healthy creations, Redmoon will build new relationships with community members in a fun and casual setting. The Neighborhood Barbeque parties will also feature…
- Grill Master Contest, where community members who love to grill can step up to show their skill on the Cyclone Grill.
- Bake-Off Contests, where local bakers can compete for a slot to sell their baked goods on the riverside at the Great Chicago Fire Festival.
- Open Sculptural Build. Working with Redmoon artists, community members can participate in decorating sculptures that will be part of river spectacle on October 4.
- Interactive Photo Booth/Workshop – Redmoon has transformed a horse trailer into a massive photo booth, which will be transported to all 15 neighborhoods throughout the summer. Photos of community members will be displayed along the Chicago River at the October 4 spectacle.
Redmoon hosted a meet-and-greet with the organization partners March 26 at the Chicago Cultural Center to introduce them to one another, provide additional information about the Great Chicago Fire Festival and answer questions.
“Cultivating the collaborations with our neighborhood partners has been a tremendous experience for our team,” said Jim Lasko, Executive Artistic Director at Redmoon. “We were so inspired by the responses to the RFP that we thought it was best to include all community based organizations that applied for our inaugural year. The geography of the organizations shaped the map of our 15 neighborhoods, and we could not be more excited about the diversity and reach these collaborations lend to the festival.”
“The 25th Ward has been proud to call Redmoon one of our residents since they moved to Pilsen last year,” said Alderman Danny Solis. “They bring their art to the people and the people to their art. Now, here we have the Great Chicago Fire Festival, a new event taking Redmoon’s inclusivity and epic-scale vision to a new level, inspired by the most ‘Chicagoan’ values of resilience and renewal. I’m proud that Pilsen can be one of the 15 anchor neighborhoods and I can’t wait to see how this project grows and expands in the coming years.”
“The 27th Ward is excited to participate in the Great Chicago Fire Festival,” said Alderman Walter Burnett. “This festival will unite not only people within a given neighborhood, but also different neighborhoods in a new way. It’ll stretch across so many areas, linking people from all walks of life and from all sections of the city, under one positive, constructive and creative endeavor. The Pilsen community is proud to be involved.”
Partner Organizations by Neighborhood
Civic and cultural organizations from each official neighborhood serve as Redmoon’s anchor for these new partnerships, communicating and bringing community members into the festival activities. They include:
- Albany Park: Family Focus Roosevelt High School/Nuestra Familia and North River Commission
- Austin: Youth Outreach Services
- Avondale: Avondale Neighborhood Association
- Bronzeville: Quad Communities Development Corporation and South Side Community Arts Center
- Englewood: Family Focus Englewood and CeaseFire of West Englewood
- Humboldt Park: West Town Bikes, Near NorthWest Arts Council, Chicago Public Library (Humboldt Park and Bucktown-Wicker Park branches), CeaseFire Humboldt Park and McCormick Tribune YMCA
- Little Village: Villarte
- North Lawndale: Family Focus Lawndale, St. Anthony's Hospital and Altus Academy
- Old Town: Near North Unity Program, Old Town Triangle Association and Old Town Art Fair, Old Town Merchants & Residents Association
- Pilsen: Changing Worlds and Chicago Urban Arts Society
- Roseland: CeaseFire of Roseland
- South Chicago: South Chicago YMCA and Under the Bridge Studios
- South Shore: Red Clay Dance Company
- Uptown: RefugeeOne and Uptown United
- Woodlawn: Reva and David Logan Center for the Arts of the University of Chicago and Apostolic Church of God
- Non-Geographic Partners: The Happiness Club, St. Therese Chinese Catholic School – Chinatown, Young Chicago Authors, and Free Spirit Media
About the Great Chicago Fire Festival
Redmoon, known for Spectacle Art and free summertime community performances, partners with the City of Chicago’s Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events (DCASE) to present the inaugural Great Chicago Fire Festival, a new and totally free urban ritual celebrating Chicago’s diverse neighborhoods and powerful spirit of resilience. The Festival culminates Saturday, October 4 at sundown, when thousands are expected to gather on Chicago’s newly developed riverfront to watch a spectacle featuring floats with acrobatics, live music, wild mechanical objects and the community-built sculptural artwork, all combining in a performance between the Columbus Street and Dearborn Street bridges, complete with a dazzling fire finale.
The Great Chicago Fire Festival is supported by The Boeing Company, The City of Chicago, Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events, The Chicago Community Trust, and a grant from ArtPlace America, a collaboration of leading national and regional foundations, banks and federal agencies accelerating creative placemaking across the US. For more information on the Great Chicago Fire Festival, visit www.chicagofirefestival.com
About the Chicago Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events
The Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events (DCASE) is dedicated to enriching Chicago’s artistic vitality and cultural vibrancy. This includes fostering the development of Chicago’s non-profit arts sector, independent working artists and for-profit arts businesses; providing a framework to guide the City’s future cultural and economic growth, via the 2012 Chicago Cultural Plan; marketing the City’s cultural assets to a worldwide audience; and presenting high-quality, free and affordable cultural programs for residents and visitors.
Redmoon's mission is to transform the experience of Chicago through free large-scale theatrical events that promote community, creativity and an empowered democracy. Redmoon burst into Chicago’s cultural consciousness with its award-winning production of Moby Dick in 1995. While the indoor productions continued to receive critical acclaim and popular support, Jim Lasko chose to focus the theater’s energy outdoors, where Redmoon sought to deploy spectacle to bridge difference and transform the ways that people see and understand public spaces. Over the past 23 years, Redmoon has become a highly valued Chicago institution with its high-profile collaborations, vibrant outdoor performances and authentic community partnerships. In 2009, Lasko joined forces with long-time collaborator Frank Maugeri to co-lead Redmoon as it garnered international attention for its unique productions, site-specific performances and participatory events. Since 1991, Redmoon has performed for more than 250,000 people in 30 different neighborhoods in 116 public spaces.
For more information on Redmoon and its programs, visit the Redmoon website.
Photos by Al Zayed unless otherwise indicated. All images courtesy of Redmoon.