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Night Out in the Parks 2021 Call for Proposals

Deadline Extended! Apply for Night Out in the Parks 2021 through Tuesday, December 15. 

The Chicago Park District currently seeks proposals from Chicago-based organizations, collectives and individual artists to participate in the 2021 Night Out in the Parks initiative. The 2021 Night Out in the Parks season programs from May 1, 2021 - December 31, 2021.

As the Call for Proposals has changed significantly this year, we are pleased to offer you a virtual Information Session and detailed step by step instructions. Please read carefully and contact us with further questions at 

Night Out in the Parks 2021 Virtual Information Session


Night Out in the Parks 2021 Call for Proposal Instructions and FAQs.

1.  What Is Night Out in the Parks (NOITP)?

Night Out in the Parks brings neighbors together to laugh, dance, sing, and engage, activating parks with robust cultural events. Since its inception in 2013, NOITP has provided thousands of hours of safe, diverse, and unique arts programming where artists and audiences can connect and celebrate Chicago’s rich cultural tapestry in neighborhood parks.

With the support of a generous grant from the Chicago Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events (DCASE) as well as support from additional local funders, NOITP produces over 2,000 free cultural events annually to patrons in over 250 parks, in all 77 community areas and 50 wards of Chicago. Over 1,500 local artists are partnering with parks to create rich, diverse experiences while building and bonding with their communities.

Through multiple disciplines:  theater, music, movies, dance, site-specific work, nature programs, and community festivals, the Chicago Park District brings high caliber performances and world-class cultural events into our parks.

Night Out in the Parks draws upon the expertise of 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.  Our programs aim to support artists, facilitate community-based partnerships and programs, cultivate civic engagement, and ensure equity in access to the arts for all Chicagoans.

Learn more about other arts and culture opportunities in the parks at:

Explore additional programs and funding opportunities via the Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events at:

2.  What Are the Goals of Night Out in the Parks?

  1. To ensure that every Chicago neighborhood has access to quality arts and cultural programming that reflects Chicago’s robust cultural landscape.
  2. To provide all Chicagoans the opportunity to experience cultural events and celebrate local artists in their neighborhood parks.
  3. To support Chicago-based artists with new audiences, resources, and opportunities to grow.
  4. 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 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 field houses are currently operating on a limited schedule during the week, and many are closed on the weekend.
  • You must be flexible in terms of amenities. Even in pre-COVID times, park amenities for performances and events varied widely based on location, event time, and even season. COVID restrictions place significant limitations on our ability to provide certain amenities, including but not limited to stages, generators, restroom access, and support staff. 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 commit to a community relationship with your park partners for the duration of the season. The success of Night Out in the Parks depends on your ability to connect at the local level to engage the community with your work. While we are invested in supporting your programming through space and/or financial support, as well as production support, printed materials, and a listing on our website and MyChiParks app, it is up to you to build relationships and interest in advance of your event through community outreach as well as traditional marketing efforts.
  • 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 and contracting promptly, correctly, and in a timely fashion.  If selected, you must confirm a performance schedule by mid-March 2021, complete contracting well in advance of beginning your performance/event series, and submit an invoice in order to receive payment.

If you are interested in presenting work in Chicago’s parks, but do not meet our residency requirement, intend to charge a fee to manage your event costs, need to assure your event can happen at a specific location or on a specific date, or just prefer to self-produce, you are welcome to explore rental and permitting options online at

Additional Considerations:

  • 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. You may be required to provide proof of insurance.
  • Night Out in the Parks artists/partners may be subject to fingerprint clearance/background check as part of the contracting process, depending on the scope of their project.

4. How Will My Night Out in the Parks Proposal Be Evaluated?

The Chicago Park District will accept submissions for the 2021 Night Out in the Park season from Friday, November 6, 2020, to Friday, December 11, 2020. All submitted proposals will be evaluated by a review committee with representation from across the Park District, as well as community partners and arts administrators from within the parks and our sister agencies. A final program of official selections will be featured between May and December 2021, as part of the 2021 Night Out in the Parks season.

We strongly recommend that first-time applicants and anyone looking for more detailed information on the program, proposal, and process, please refer to the virtual Night Out in the Parks Proposal Information Presentation above.

While in previous years we have made every effort to notify partners of their acceptance by early February, we anticipate the possibility of delays due to COVID.  We will do our best to communicate with you during the selection process.  If you have questions about the process during the completion of your application or once your application has been submitted, please direct them via email to

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 Strategic Outreach and Marketing Strategy that will engage Chicago communities
  • Professionalism & Self-Sufficiency of our potential partners as evidenced by an Affordable Budget that is fair and accurate to the project scope

5. How is COVID 19 affecting Night Out in the Parks programming?

Heading into its 9th season, Night Out in the Parks will continue to provide opportunities to celebrate and support Chicago’s diverse arts community and vibrant culture, through both virtual and in-person events, while modifying our presentation format to keep artists and audiences safe.

While we are cautiously optimistic that we will be able to present a robust season of live performance in parks in 2021, we are prepared to modify our plan to reflect the most up-to-date safety protocols and restrictions as necessary, up to and including an all virtual season if required. 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 for live performance with an audience, with the following guidelines in place:

  1. 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.
  2. Active Audience Management Strategy - Active audience management is central to safe event production while COVID remains a threat.  All NOITP events will have defined viewing areas with audience caps and audience support teams (at a minimum of 1 person from NOITP and 1 person from partner) to ensure audiences are participating in the community-wide safety plan.
  3. Mandatory COVID Safety Training - The completion of an online COVID safety training by a designated COVID Safety Captain from each partner organization will be required for participation this year.

6.  What is the 2021 Artist Support Model?

The 2021 Night Out in the Parks Artist Support Model seeks to maintain the breadth of our programming and partnership opportunities while managing both a significant decrease in available funding and a significant increase in challenges to event logistics due to COVID. In an attempt to streamline the process, we have re-shaped the application to better define our ideal fit. Please read the following section carefully, to understand how to apply to be a Night Out in the Parks partner in 2021.

If you are a theater, music, dance, spectacle, or other LIVE cultural event applying for financial support, as well as performance space, production support, and marketing support, please fill out this application. As with all previous years, 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:  Programmatic Excellence, Project Viability, Commitment to Community Connectivity, and Affordable Budget. Some partners who apply for financial support may be offered space only, which also includes production and marketing support.  Additionally, projects that are fully funded but only looking for space 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 outside of the NOITP curation window of November 6 - December 11, 2020,  please send an email to

7. Are there other ways to become a Night Out in the Parks partner?

Moving forward in 2021, there are new ways for returning NOITP partners, as well as DJs, Bands, and single location Festivals to partner with Night Out in the Parks. Please see more information about each below.

*New* Your Night Out at Home Virtual Performances
(by invitation only) Invitations to be sent out in Spring 2021.

*New* Application for Band Roster
Rolling application, More information coming soon.

*New* Application for DJ Roster
Rolling Application. More information coming soon.

*New* Application process for single location community festivals
Rolling Application. More information coming soon.

What are the 2021 Night Out in the Parks Themes & Packages?

Special Initiatives:

  • Year Of Chicago Music In collaboration with the City of Chicago Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events, 2021 has been designated the Year of Chicago Music. In celebration of this initiative the Chicago Park District is committed to featuring Chicago’s musical talent and influence through cultural programs in every corner of the city, all 77 community areas, and all 50 wards!
  • Queering the Parks Queering the Parks Initiative is a joyful and affirming celebration of the LGBTQIA+ community in Chicago. We are uplifting the fierce culture and 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 Queering the Parks events.
    - Within Queering the Parks, priority will be given to productions that highlight the qualities below:
    • Include youth and family-friendly components with an intersectional approach to LGBTQIA+ inclusion
    • Are created in collaboration with community organizations that work in and for LGBTQIA+ communities, young people, and families
    • Consider the South and West sides of the city for their events
  • Nature (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. We are the Chicago Park District after all! If your work points to nature in any way we welcome you to join a collection of events celebrating the great outdoors.
  • Keep It Moving We are particularly interested in proposals that explore the theme KEEP IT MOVING, as it applies to the audience’s way of experiencing the performance or event. This could be processional or spectacle based performance, episodic installations, and/or work that audiences may encounter at their own pace, safely socially distanced.
  • Drive-in Performances After a successful summer of Drive-In movies, we are interested in exploring the possibility of expanding our offerings to include drive-in arts and culture performances and events.  Please note, our capacity is extremely limited for drive-in performances, and the largest barrier is the required support staff. If you are interested in submitting a proposal for drive-in consideration, please reach out via email to for a list of potential locations and a discussion around the additional requirements in advance of submitting your proposal.

Be a part of the city’s Cultural Asset Mapping Project (CAMP)

C.A.M.P. is part of a larger initiative led by the City of Chicago Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events (DCASE) and the League of Chicago Theatres with additional support from Enrich Chicago to gain a more comprehensive understanding of the performing arts and related cultural forms on the South Side and West Side of Chicago. C.A.M.P. also grows out of the Re:Center Initiative, a long-term visioning process for all 15 cultural centers in Chicago Park District's network (2015-2020). The long-term goal of this project is to better support performing arts, cultural production, and activities in these neighborhoods.

We encourage you to add your information and/or your organization’s information to be included in this expanding list of artists, designers, and cultural producers in Chicago, active at the neighborhood or city-wide scale.

Add yourself to the artist, designer, and cultural producer database.


Email any questions about the Night Out in the Parks submissions process to