2023 Night Out in the Parks CALL FOR PROPOSALS
The Chicago Park District currently seeks proposals from Chicago-based organizations, collectives, and individual artists to participate in the 11th season of Night Out in the Parks. The season runs from June 1 - December 31, 2023. Proposals are due by 11:59 pm Sunday, December 11, 2022, for 2023 season consideration.
1. What Is Night Out in the Parks (NOITP)?
Through multiple disciplines: theater, music, movies, dance, site-specific work, nature programs, culinary arts, literary arts, and community festivals, the Chicago Park District presents high caliber performances and world class cultural events in our parks. Celebrating 11 years in 2023, Night Out in the Parks brings neighbors together, activating parks with robust cultural events that uplift communities.
Since its inception, NOITP has provided thousands of hours of safe, diverse, and unique arts programming. With generous support from the Chicago Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events (DCASE), NOITP produces hundreds of free cultural events annually to patrons in parks citywide, in all 77 community areas of Chicago.
Night Out in the Parks draws upon the expertise of artists, community members and park staff, as well as arts programmers and cultural producers to curate work that reflects the lives and experiences of Chicago’s citizens. Collectively we strive to curate a season of partnerships that enhance quality of life across Chicago by amplifying artistic and cultural vibrancy in every neighborhood.
2. What Are the Goals of Night Out in the Parks?
- To ensure that every Chicago neighborhood has access to quality arts and cultural programming that reflects Chicago’s robust cultural landscape
- To provide all Chicagoans the opportunity to experience cultural events and celebrate local artists in their neighborhood parks
- To support Chicago-based artists with new audiences, resources, and opportunities to grow
- To increase Chicago parks’ utilization, safety and community connectivity through the arts
3. What Are the Requirements to Apply for Night Out in the Parks?
- You must be a Chicago-based organization or individual artist.
Residency within the city of Chicago is required and must be verified at multiple points throughout the process including upon application, contracting and payment. NOTE: You do not need to be a not-for-profit organization to be considered.
- Your program must be offered to the community for free.
We strongly encourage you to diversify your funding strategies to include additional financial support for your program in addition to this application. We are unlikely to be able to fund requests in full so will prioritize partnerships that show evidence of broad investment by a diverse range of funders and supporters.
- You must commit to building a relationship with your park partners for the duration of the season.
The success of your program depends on your ability to connect at the local level to engage the community with your work. Success is not only determined by audience numbers, but by relationships developed through your programming. This is an opportunity to widen your reach within the city and strengthen your mission and brand.
- You must be flexible in terms of location.
We prioritize projects that are willing to present in each of the three park district regions: North, Central and South. Partners must be able to provide their own transportation for all equipment, performers and staff.
- You must be flexible in terms of scheduling.
Events may happen seven days a week, mostly in the evening, though we welcome proposals that engage park spaces anytime that parks are open. Please note that Fieldhouse access is varied throughout the week and often limited on weekends.
- You must be flexible in terms of amenities.
Park amenities for performances and events vary widely based on location, event time and event season. If certain elements or amenities are critical to the success of your program, please be sure to include the cost of their acquisition in your budget and planning.
- You must be COVID Safe.
All performances, rehearsals, and preparations for your event must follow the local, state and federal guidelines around COVID-19 safety.
- You must communicate regularly with your Park District liaison and complete all paperwork including contracts, schedules and invoices by assigned deadlines. If selected, you must confirm a performance schedule by mid-March 2023.
- We strongly recommend both organizations and individual artists have $1 million general liability insurance naming the Chicago Park District an additional insured for all events. Organizations will be required to provide a certificate of insurance.
- Night Out in the Parks partners may be subject to fingerprint clearance/background check as part of the contracting process, depending on the scope of their project. Projects where partners will have physical interaction with the general public will be subject to background checks.
- We strongly encourage park programming that is accessible and inclusive. Consider an accessibility plan for your project that includes: mobile access, bi-lingual narratives, ASL interpretation, audio description, etc.
4. What are the 2023 Night Out in the Parks Themes?
We welcome any and all creative proposals that meet our goals and guidelines, and are particularly interested in proposals that celebrate:
- Art in Nature As we celebrate the arts and cultural landscape of Chicago through the Night Out in the Parks program we wish to pay homage to the natural areas, flora, fauna, scientific practice and artistic inspiration our parks host every day.
- Queering the Parks (QTP) Our Queering the Parks Initiative is a joyful and affirming celebration of the LGBTQIA+ community in Chicago. QTP uplifts the diverse culture and fierce artistry of queer Chicago through playful activations in our parks. As a part of Queering the Parks, your NOITP project will have the opportunity for additional promotions alongside other QTP events.
Within Queering the Parks, priority will be given to productions that:
o Include youth and family-friendly components with an intersectional approach to LGBTQIA+ inclusion
o Are created in collaboration with community organizations that work in and for LGBTQIA+ communities, young people and families
o Consider the South and West sides of the city for their events
- Roaming Performance
We are particularly interested in proposals that explore the audience’s way of experiencing a performance or event. This could be processional or spectacle based performance, episodic installations or activations, and/or work that audiences may encounter at their own pace.
5. How Will My Night Out in the Parks Proposal Be Evaluated?
The Chicago Park District will accept submissions for the 2023 Night Out in the Park season from Wednesday, November 2 through Sunday, December 11, 2022. All submitted proposals will be evaluated by a review committee composed of city-wide Park District representatives, community partners and arts administrators from sister agencies.
The following criteria will be weighed heavily when evaluating proposals:
- Culturally Relevant events and performances that exhibit high quality work from artists at every step of their career, demonstrating programmatic excellence
- Project Viability given both the unique ecosystem of park spaces in the Chicago cultural landscape and the challenges of the pandemic
- Commitment to Community Connectivity with a thorough outreach and marketing strategy that will engage Chicago communities and augment your audience
- Professionalism & Self-Sufficiency of our potential partners as evidenced by a sustainable budget that is fair and accurate to the project scope
First-time applicants and anyone looking for more detailed information on the program, proposal, and process may refer to the Night Out in the Parks Proposal Information Presentation www.nightoutintheparks.com
We will make every effort to notify partners of their acceptance in February 2023. If you have questions about the process during the completion of your application or once your application has been submitted, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.
6. How is COVID 19 affecting Night Out in the Parks programming?
While we are optimistic that we will be able to continue to present robust live performances, we are prepared to modify our plan to reflect the most up to date safety protocols as necessary. Unfortunately, this may mean that in some cases we may need to reschedule or cancel programming altogether. It is in your best interest to devise your proposal and manage your production schedule and budget with this possibility in mind.
In addition, we extend this Call For Proposals with the following guidelines in place:
- Adherence to state, local and federal COVID safety plans - As a program housed within a government agency we are dedicated to not only upholding the safety measures put in place via our local, state and federal safety teams, but strive to model those best practices for audiences and community members throughout our processes. Please refer to the following websites for the most up to date information and guidelines around public gathering and safety protocols.
City of Chicago: Public Health
- Audience Management - Audience management and messaging is central to safe event production while COVID remains a threat. All NOITP events should encourage safe gatherings and courtesy among patrons and performers.
7. Night Out in the Parks - Partner Support
Night Out in the Parks partnership offers support in 4 key ways:
- Production (as available)
Support will be offered based on the guidelines set out above and no two awards are the same.
Additional significant non-financial contributions include liaison support to assist partners in making connections with park partners and community building efforts, site evaluation and selection support, as well as training and workshops offered through our orientation process.
If you are a partner applying for financial support, as well as performance space, marketing support and production support, please fill out the Call for Proposals application by the December 11, 2022 deadline. We will make our selections for partnerships with financial support through this process only. Not all applications will receive financial support, and priority will be placed on partners who score the highest in all four areas of focus: (1) Programmatic Excellence, (2) Project Viability, (3) Commitment to Community Connectivity and (4) Sustainable Budget.
Some partners who apply for financial support may be offered space only, which includes marketing support. Marketing support includes inclusion in all of the Chicago Park District’s digital platforms including our website and the MyChiParks app, as well as additional marketing opportunities via our social media, print materials and local community promotional efforts.
For partnerships that receive financial support, limited production support may be available, and will be negotiated during the granting process.
Partners seeking space only may apply both during this application process **and year round** to become a NOITP partner on a case-by-case basis. For those interested in applying to partner without funding outside of the NOITP curation window of November 2 - December 11, 2022, please send an email of interest to email@example.com.
8. Are there other ways to partner or present cultural events in the parks?
Rentals and Permits: Individuals, organizations, and businesses are eligible to apply for a permit at any of the 600+ Chicago parks. https://www.chicagoparkdistrict.com/permits-rentals
ARCS partnerships: The Athletic Use, Resident, Contractor, and Service Provider (ARCS) program enables community groups, organizations, and businesses to enter into a mutual agreement to provide mission-centered programs and services to the public on Park District property https://www.chicagoparkdistrict.com/doing-business/arcs-program
Learn more about other arts and culture opportunities in the parks: https://www.chicagoparkdistrict.com/programs-memberships/arts-culture-programs
Explore additional programs and funding opportunities via the Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events at: https://www.chicago.gov/city/en/depts/dca.html
ALL NIGHT OUT IN THE PARKS PROPOSALS ARE DUE BY 11:59PM ON SUNDAY, DECEMBER 11, 2022
Email any questions about the Night Out in the Parks submissions process to firstname.lastname@example.org.