GARFIELD PARK — The city is doubling its offerings of summer cultural programs in neighborhood parks.
Mayor Rahm Emanuel announced at the Garfield Park Conservatory Tuesday that the city will schedule 750 events over the summer as part of its "Night Out in the Parks" program.
The cultural events will be led by 27 performances of "The Comedy of Errors" in 18 neighborhood parks by Chicago Shakespeare Theater. That expands on last year's inaugural Chicago Shakespeare in the Parks series featuring "The Taming of the Shrew," which Emanuel said he saw last summer at the conservatory.
"All families, regardless of where you live, regardless of what your ZIP Code is, will have a night out at the park that will be safe and family-friendly," Emanuel said.
Also included are the popular Movies in the Parks program and neighborhood events connected to the Grant Park Music Festival and Blues, Gospel and Jazz fests downtown.
New to the park programs are the Hypocrites' Romeo Juliet, the Juicebox series for children, the Eye on India dancers and "The Elephant and the Whale," a production teaming Chicago Children's Theatre with Redmoon.
Michelle Boone, commissioner of the Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events, said that would please neighborhood residents, while also boosting smaller cultural agencies. "It's a creative way to build audience for these organizations," Boone said. "So it's a big win all around."
The program's expansion is being funded with $750,000 from the NATO Summit legacy funds, part of a $2 million investment in neighborhood parks and cultural programs. Both Boone and Emanuel emphasized that the initiative grows out of goals set by the Chicago Cultural Plan last year.
"From Movies in the Park to music festivals, residents will be able to check out the best of what Chicago has to offer right in their own backyard," Emanuel said in an outdoor news conference at the conservatory. "We have increased the summer arts programming to more than 750 unique events in the city's neighborhood parks, helping to ensure that Chicagoans across the city have access to these cultural experiences."
"No other city can boast the diversity of our park program," said Chicago Park District Supt. Michael Kelly.
A full range of events can be found at www.nightoutintheparks.com.
Chicago Shakespeare Theater will perform "The Comedy of Errors" free to audiences at 18 parks, starting at Gateway Park at Navy Pier July 25 and concluding at the conservatory Aug. 25.
"So I look forward to seeing you all out in the parks this summer," Boone said.