CHICAGO—Navy Pier is honored to announce the return of our free performing arts festival “Chicago Live!” Saturday, September 23, and Sunday, September 24. This year marks the third year for the iconic event, which now presents more than 80 distinct artists and cultural organizations in back-to-back performances on three stages. Performances span every artistic genre – including music, dance, theatre, spoken word, improv, vocal performance and more. This year, 25 new groups will join over 40 returning organizations performing at Navy Pier to showcase their talents.
“I believe that the arts inspire us to live our best lives, and Chicago Live has Navy Pier aspiring to its highest self, as the port of entry to Chicago’s richly diverse cultural landscape,” said Navy Pier President and CEO Marilynn Gardner. “I’m so proud of how our uniquely Chicagocentric performance festival has grown to over 80 companies in only its third year as we continue to expand free access to the arts for all neighborhoods. I offer my sincere gratitude to the Pritzker Foundation, Fifth Third Bank, and Peoples Gas for making it all possible.”
This year the special guest will be Mavis Staples. Hailed by NPR as “one of America’s defining voices of freedom and peace,” Staples is a once-in-a-generation artist whose impact on music and culture would be difficult to overstate. She’s both a Blues and a Rock and Roll Hall of Famer; a civil rights icon; a GRAMMY Award-winner; a chart-topping soul/gospel/R&B pioneer; a National Arts Awards Lifetime Achievement recipient; and a Kennedy Center honoree.
“Chicago Live! is all about access to arts and cultural experiences. We strive to represent a wide variety of performance groups and artists from across all 77 Chicago neighborhoods to highlight while providing a collaborative platform for these organizations to engage with one another and cultivate new audiences,” said Navy Pier Vice President of Arts, Culture and Engagement Erika Taylor. “We’re tremendously grateful to our sponsors and partners who help us to sustain Navy Pier’s signature event for at least the next four years.”
Chicago Live! 2023 is sponsored by The Pritzker Foundation, with generous support from Fifth Third Bank and Peoples Gas. Through their generosity, Chicago Live! will continue through 2027. Chicago Live! employs hundreds of artists, support staff and union laborers over the course of this two-day event.
“The Pritzker Foundation’s support of Chicago Live goes far beyond creating a significant opportunity for Chicago’s performing arts community to connect with new audiences; it also empowers transformational growth for Navy Pier, which is now poised and eager to be Chicago’s cultural hub,” said Pritzker Foundation Trustee Penny Pritzker. “That’s especially important right now as Chicago’s theater community—one of the proud pillars of our international reputation–continues to rebuild in the wake of the pandemic.”
Chicago Live! was launched in 2021 following the pandemic, reconnecting audiences with Chicago’s world-class performance community after a devastating 18-month closure that left many in the industry in limbo.
“The cultural sector in Chicago is a multi-billion-dollar industry. There’s no denying the role that artists and organizations play in supporting Chicago’s economy and enhancing the quality of life in our city,” shared DCASE Commissioner Erin Harkey. “Navy Pier’s Chicago Live! event uplifts the diversity of talent on our stages, builds new audiences, and employs hundreds of working Chicago artists. We are grateful to Navy Pier and partners for their investment in the arts and Chicago’s artists.”
Artists and companies new to Chicago Live! this year include: (alphabetically) Aerial Dance Chicago, Aloha Chicago, Melody Angel, Ballet Folklorico Sones Mexicanos, Bravelsoul Movement, Breakbeat Creatives, Celeda, Chicago Tap Theatre, DanceWorks Chicago, Emmet Otter’s Jug Band Christmas, Filament Theatre, Ron Haynes’ GAME CHANGERS, The Happiness Club, Nataya Dance Theatre, Nico Rubio’s Three Thirty Three, Poetry Foundation, Remy Bumppo Theatre Company, Mavis Staples, Svet, Teatro ZinZanni, The Baton Show Lounge, Theo Ubique Cabaret Theatre, Third Coast Percussion, Too Much Molly, and Water People Theater
Returning are: About Face Theatre, The Actors Gymnasium, Adrian Dunn Singers, American Blues Theater, Ayodele Drum & Dance, Black Ensemble Theater, Blue Man Group, The Chicago High School for the Arts, Chicago Children’s Theater, Chicago Dance Crash, Chicago Fringe Opera, Chicago Human Rhythm Project, Chicago Opera Theater, Chicago Philharmonic, Chicago Repertory Ballet, Chicago Samba, Chicago Shakespeare Theater, Chicago Sinfonietta, Chicago Symphony Orchestra, Congo Square Theatre, Culture Shock Dance Chicago, Dee Alexander, Deeply Rooted Dance Theater, DJ Readerz, Ensemble Español, Forward Momentum Chicago, Giordano Dance Chicago, Hiplet Ballerinas, Hubbard Street Dance Chicago, iO Theater, Joel Hall Dancers, KF Jacques, Kokandy Productions, Korean Performing Arts Institute of Chicago, La Escuelita Bombera de Corazon, Lyric Opera of Chicago, Mandala South Asian Performing Arts, Meher Dance Company, Mercury Theater Chicago, MOMENTA Dance Company, Muntu Dance Theatre, Old Town School of Folk Music, PARA.MAR Dance Theatre, Porchlight Music Theatre, Puerto Rican Arts Alliance, Red Clay Dance Company, Soul Children of Chicago, South Chicago Dance Theatre, The Seldoms, Trinity Irish Dance Company, Victor Garcia, Visceral Dance, Yin He Dance
The full schedule will be released at a later date.
Click here from photos from the Chicago Live Press Conference.
Click here for Chicago Live! photos from 2022 performances.
Note: All activities, times, and dates are subject to change.
ABOUT NAVY PIER
Located on Lake Michigan, Navy Pier is the top nonprofit tourism destination in the Midwest, stretching more than six city blocks and typically welcoming nearly 9 million annual guests. Originally opened in 1916 as a shipping and recreation facility, this Chicago landmark showcases more than 50 acres of parks, restaurants, attractions, retail shops, sightseeing and dining cruise boats, exposition facilities and more. The Pier celebrated its 100th anniversary in 2016 with the unveiling of the iconic Centennial Wheel, Polk Bros Park, Fifth Third Bank Family Pavilion and Peoples Energy Welcome Pavilion. In 2021, Navy Pier continued to usher in its second century with ongoing Pier-wide redevelopment efforts—including Sable, a 223-room Hilton hotel, new restaurants and partnerships, and thrilling additions to Pier Park. The Pier is proud to provide free, year-round arts and cultural programming designed to inspire, educate and connect communities across the city and globe. Click here to donate to Navy Pier, a mission-driven 501(c)(3) organization, in support of the organization’s post-pandemic revival and free public programming. For more information, visit www.navypier.org.