The Great Chicago Fire Festival

Redmoon Theater

Funding Received: 2013
Chicago, IL
Funding Period: 1 year and 5 months
August 27, 2013

In the past month, Redmoon has been out on weekend nights in five Chicago parks. Just as we did last month in Sherman Park, as I described in my last blog post, we’ve pulled up the Sonic Boom, Redmoon’s 16-foot tall mobile, transformative DJ booth and speaker system, and started the evening with drumming workshops, conducted by the Bucket Boys and poetry workshops with Young Chicago Authors. After free food, it turns into an all-out, family friendly party and sometimes an impromptu parade.

It’s all part of the Mayor’s program this summer called Night Out in the Parks, which is a citywide effort to bring neighbors together and celebrate the awesome resource of the Chicago Park District. The program as a whole has been a huge success, with over 750 events this summer, which have made the parks hubs of activity and safe havens. Redmoon is happy to be a big player in this program.

My wins are the parks that we’ve been in since July 15, except for the Midway, all considered to be underutilized, and which turn out each and every one to be beautiful. Each one is watched over by a committed and extraordinary Park Supervisor, who might be the subject of my next blog post, singlehanded creative placemakers, one and all, at their parks:

Calumet Park
Columbus Park
Meyering Park
Midway Plaisance
Dvorak Park

I’ve been thinking about the aspect of creative placemaking that is about convincing people that a place can have a different and better future. The underused parks that Redmoon has been in this summer certainly feel like places with a better future before them. The kids who live nearby deserve the hope and commitment of everyone around them.

We made a map at Redmoon of the places we have performed for free, outside, which include this summer’s parks and a number of other places, relative to the shootings that have happened in 2013 alone in Chicago. It feels like evidence to us as an organization that we are going to the right communities, and like a pretty good diagnostic tool to keep us on track, to make sure we are making art where art is needed most.


Creative placemaking seems to beg for a longer and deeper investment in neighborhoods and cities than one night, and I’ve been thinking about this a lot. What’s it take to convince people that a place can have a different and better future? Some of the people I talk to in these parks say that the visible presence of local artists and cultural activity is enough, that it’s significant for residents to experience an investment on the part of their city in them and their artistic life and enjoyment of their neighborhood. So, who needs to be convinced? What people? In whose future?