City of Chicago designates 2019 as the “Year of Chicago Theatre”

Chicago Theatre is brave.

Chicago Theatre is visceral.

Chicago Theatre is provocative.

Chicago Theatre is welcoming.

Chicago Theatre is awe-inspiring.

Chicago Theatre is the fearless soul of Chicago.


At a midday reception at Steppenwolf Theatre, Mayor Rahm Emanuel was joined by actors Michael Shannon (The Shape of Water) and Celeste Holm (Chicago Fire, Chicago PD, Chicago Med), Commissioner Mark Kelly from the Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events and Deb Clapp, Executive Director of the League of Chicago Theatres to announce that 2019 has been designated the “Year of Chicago Theatre.”  Theatres represented at the event included Mercury Theatre, Goodman Theatre, Shattered Globe Theatre, Joffrey Ballet, Steppenwolf Theater and Hubbard Street Dance.

The citywide, yearlong focus on theatre is the first of its kind in the US and will include theatre performances and special events for the public at hundreds of cultural venues, theatres, parks and neighborhood locations throughout the city.  The new brand positioning seeks to boost awareness and visibility of Chicago’s vibrant theatre community, marketing Chicago as a theatre destination and sustainability growing audiences for Chicago Theatre.  Additionally, the initiative hopes to open a dialogue on inclusion and equity in the theatre and to call on city leaders to support the community.

“From world-renowned, Tony Award-winning stages to intimate storefront productions across the city, theatre is essential to the cultural fabric of Chicago,” said Mayor Emanuel.  “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.”

City plans include:

  • Theatre activations and a theatre-themed Film series throughout the summer at Millennium Park.
  • Theatre-themed public programs and exhibitions at the Chicago Cultural Center.
  • $200,000 in financial grants to theatres and other nonprofit theatre programs via the Cultural Grants Program.
  • Theatre displays at Expo 72 (Hot Tix) and the Chicago Cultural Center Welcome Center.
  • A marketing campaign for residents that leverages the new brand for Chicago theatre.

“What makes Chicago theatre special is the support for each other,” said actor Celeste Holm, who recently appeared in The Doppelganger at Steppenwolf Theatre.  This new initiative will not only be supported by the City of Chicago, but also by partner organizations such as the League of Chicago Theatres, Chicago Park District, Metropolitan Pier and Exposition Authority, Department of Aviation and Choose Chicago.  Commitment from partner organizations include:

  • A redesigned website (League of Chicago Theatres);
  • Theatre-themed events in all 77 community areas, as part of the Night Out in the Parks series (Chicago Park Districts);
  • Theatre displays and Hot Tix pop-ups during major conventions at McCormick Place (Metropolitan Pier and Exposition Authority);
  • Advertising for Chicago Theatre at the airports (Department of Aviation);
  • Additional resources for Chicago Theatre Week and a major marketing campaign for visitors that leverages the new brand for Chicago Theatre (Choose Chicago)

“You can’t make art unless you are willing to take a risk,” said Emanuel. The City of Chicago is willing to take a risk in 2019 during the Year of Chicago Theatre.  






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