City announces Year of Creative Youth events
May 4, 2018

After School Matters youngsters sing as part of the Year of Creative Youth initiative.

Chicago’s Department of Cultural Affairs & Special Events (DCASE) recently announced further developments within the Year of Creative Youth initiative. DCASE is encouraging teens and young adults to share their art, music, or performances via social media with the hashtag #BornCreative for the chance to showcase their work at the culminating festival in Millennium Park on Saturday, Sept. 22. 

That is not the only key date, however, as the Year of Creative Youth will feature young artists and their artwork through myriad festivals, exhibitions, throughout the calendar year.  Some youth programming will be attached to well-known festivals, giving Chicago’s creatives more opportunities to display their talents.

The Grant Park Music Festival Youth Artists Showcase will feature concerts by local summer youth music programs and schools every Friday evening at 5:30 p.m. from Wednesday, June 13, through Saturday, Aug. 18 in the Jay Pritzker Pavilion before the Grant Park Orchestra performs. 

The 33rd Chicago Gospel Festival will feature area and national artists in order to celebrate the rich history of the Chicago-born genre. Youth choirs and other young musicians will perform at the Inspiration Youth Stage on Saturday, June 2, at the festival in Millennium Park. 

On Monday, June 4, there will be a youth-oriented Bridges to the Blues preview event at the Chicago Cultural Center that will illustrate the genre’s contributions to new-age blues players and blues-inspired music through interactive activities and art exhibitions. 

From Friday, June 8, to Sunday, June 10, Millennium Park will be buzzing with the blues from 11 a.m. to 9:30 p.m.  As a part of the 35th Chicago Blues Festival, four stages of live music will include performances by young Chicago performers leading the pack of new generation blues. 

The 38th Annual Taste of Chicago will feature cooking demonstrations by aspiring young chefs.  While displaying the diverse dining scene of the Chicago area, there will also be music and dance performances and other activities to celebrate Chicago’s young creative talent. 

During Labor Day weekend, Chicago’s 40th Annual Jazz Festival will not only provide world-class performers and vast jazz talent, but will also feature Roof Top Jazz: Young Jazz Lions Saturday and Sunday, Sept. 1-2, which will feature performances by jazz groups from multiple Chicago high schools and colleges. 

The Year of Creative Youth is intended to bolster Chicago’s existing cultural programming and aid those who foster the development of Chicago’s future cultural and economic growth, and this emphasis has been crucial in the implementation of the After School Matters Program. The program will promote Chicago teens discovering their potential this coming summer with activities such as furniture painting and design, hat design, and mural creation. After School Matters provides 13,000 opportunities throughout the city for Chicago teens to develop their talents in the arts, leadership, and critical skills for a gainful future.

After a long summer of festivals, showcases, and chances for Chicago’s creative youth to exercise their talents, four Chicago youth organizations will present visual art exhibitions in the Chicago Cultural Center from Saturday, Sept. 8, until Sunday, Jan. 6, 2019. 

The Peacemakers and Community Connections Project, Changing Worlds, collaborates with adolescents from Pilsen, Back of the Yards, and the Near West Side to create artwork that envisions positive change in their respective communities. Teen interns from the Garfield Park Conservatory Alliance will orchestrate thousands of fern fronds, mosses, and cycads with hope of creating a tantalizing and multi-sensory rendition of the Conservatory’s well-known Fern Room.  Teens from the Puerto Rican Arts Alliance are creating large-scale paintings that highlight the rich cultural history of the U.S. territory and installations that refer to the current sociopolitical unrest.  Young artists from the Chicago Arts Partnerships in Education will exhibit multidisciplinary student artwork that reflects and examines ideas of self, place, and community. 

“The Year of Creative Youth provides an incredible opportunity to support the creativity and growth of artistic children across Chicago,” Mayor Rahm Emanuel said.

For more information about the Year of Creative Youth, visit—and join the conversation on Facebook (Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events), Twitter @ChicagoDCASE and Instagram @ChicagoDCASE #2018isYOCY #ChiCreativeYouth #BornCreative.

—Peter Winslow