Inaugural Declaration YOUth Arts Festival Celebrates Teen Talent July 3-7


The Chicago Park District will showcase local teen talent admission-free at the inaugural Declaration YOUth arts festival Wednesday-Sunday, July 3-7 (no program Independence Day, Thursday, July 4) from 5-9 p.m. at Theater on the Lake, 2401 N. Lake Shore Drive at Fullerton Avenue. 

Through four evenings of spoken word, music, dance, theater, and visual art, Chicago's teens will have an opportunity to celebrate the abundance of young talent within the city and within themselves.  The event is recommended for teens ages 14 and up.

Declaration YOUth is part of the Chicago Park District’s Night Out in the Parks initiative, which features more than 750 citywide cultural and arts activities this summer, making parks a safe haven and a hub of activity.

Following is the Declaration YOUth schedule:

Wednesday, July 3

DJ Kid Color will kick off the festival and spin music in the southern pavilion.  His set will kick off the SummerDance in the Parks series, a program presented as part of an ongoing collaboration between the Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events and the Chicago Park District. Arts programming in neighborhoods across the city advances the goals of the Chicago Cultural Plan and the Night Out in the Parks initiative.

The northern pavilion will host the commissioned mural by Yollocalli Arts Reach teaching artist Gloria Talamantes-Data as well as artwork by Yollocalli youth.  Yollocalli Arts Reach is a youth initiative of the National Museum of Mexican Art and is housed at Barrett Park.

Friday, July 5

Young Chicago Authors (YCA) presents English Class Heretics, an all-star evening of spoken word performance.  YCA cultivates youth voice year round through written word, publications, and spoken word performances.  Its critically acclaimed events include #WordPlay, Chicago’s longest running youth poetry slam, and Louder Than A Bomb, the world’s largest youth poetry festival. 

The evening also includes The Encyclopedia Show, a verbal and musical variety extravaganza that commissions local and touring artists and experts from many disciplines to present a verbal and musical encyclopedia “entry” each month. 

Local R&B/soul artists Milo & Otis round out the evening with music from their debut The Joy.  The duo were recently called “mold-shattering” in a rave review by the Washington Post.

Pre-show entertainment includes three finalists from last year’s August Wilson Monologue Competition.  High school students compete in this national competition by performing a 2-3 minute monologue of their choice from one of the 10 plays in the Century Cycle.

Saturday, July 6

Kuumba Lynx performs 1LUVUprize!, a tribute to John Vietnam Nguyen, a Chicago hip hop artist and activist.  Kuumba Lynx is an arts partner in residence with the Chicago Park District and offers programming at Clarendon Park that aims to empower youth to engage in social consciousness, self-reflection and global action.

Teens can then record their wordsmith skills and embellish them with beats at the Chicago Park District’s Inferno Mobile Recording Studio

Sunday, July 7

About Face Theater performs their hit play It’s For Real, followed by an interactive discussion led by members of the youth ensemble.  Based on true experiences of performers in the show, It’s For Real connects issues of race, class, gender, age, sexuality and bullying.

American Theatre Company’s Youth Ensemble performs excerpts of The People’s Temple, a documentary theater piece exploring stories of the 1978 Jonestown tragedy.  ATC’s youth ensemble is a pre-professional training program for young actors and is composed of Chicago Public school juniors and seniors.

Jazz Links, the youth ensemble of the Jazz Institute of Chicago, performs.  The Jazz Institute of Chicago nurtures young artists through the Jazz Links Education Program and introduces them to audiences through concerts at JazzCity, Millennium Park and the Chicago Jazz Festival.

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