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The free two-day festival unites 60 of the Chicago’s top cultural organizations and emerging artists in back-to-back outdoor performances Sept. 24 - 25

Navy Pier to Host Second Annual Chicago Live!

CHICAGO— Navy Pier, Chicago’s iconic cultural destination, announced today that it will bring back Chicago Live! as an annual two-day performance festival, with generous support from the Pritzker Foundation. More than 60 of the city’s top marquee names—a third of which are participating for the first time—will give back-to-back performances from noon to 9 p.m. on Saturday, Sept. 24 and noon to 6 p.m. on Sunday, Sept, 25. Performances will be at the East End Plaza, the Wave Wall Platform and the Lake Stage in Polk Bros Park at Navy Pier.

Participating companies include the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, Lyric Opera of Chicago, Black Ensemble Theater, Joffrey Ballet, Improv Olympics, Puerto Rican Arts Alliance, Chicago Shakespeare Theater, Blue Man Group, Jazz Institute of Chicago and the Neo-Futurists. Admission is free and the public is invited to bring their own lawn chairs and picnic blankets. 

Navy Pier is thrilled to announce that Chicago Live! will be back for two more years thanks to a generous donation from the Pritzker Foundation. 

After sponsoring the inaugural 2021 Chicago Live! Again event, the Pritzker Foundation committed support for its return in 2022 with $1 million, $500,000 for 2023 and $500,000 for 2024. 

“Navy Pier is thrilled to be the stage for such a large-scale collaboration, which is so uniquely Chicago, between local performing arts organizations and individual artists, providing the opportunity for audiences of all backgrounds to sample the best of what our great city has to offer,” said Navy Pier President and CEO Marilynn Gardner. “We are grateful to all the talent—in the spotlight and behind the scenes—who fill our stages and our lives, and to the Pritzker Foundation for the support needed to make Chicago Live! an annual event.”

Chicago Live! was launched last year, reuniting audiences with onstage and backstage artists, to herald the return of live performances following a painful pandemic shutdown that left the arts and hospitality industries the first to close and the last to return.

"I am thrilled that Chicago Live! is returning to Navy Pier for another year," said Chicago Mayor Lori E. Lightfoot. "This free program highlights what makes our city a leading cultural attraction and national treasure. Chicago Live! showcases the diversity, inclusivity and creativity found throughout our city from various backgrounds and celebrates our entertainment industries that keep Chicagoans connected and inspired."   

“The Pritzker Foundation is pleased to partner with Navy Pier in a variety of initiatives and we were so especially moved by last summer’s Chicago Live! uniting the city’s most talented artists and nonprofit organizations for the first time, that we recognized the value of supporting the two-day festival an annual event,” said Pritzker Foundation Trustee, Gigi Pritzker Pucker. “Chicago Live! celebrates connection, the connection between the cultural organizations that spark joy, the connection between artists and audiences who feed each other’s souls and our connection with each other as we see our shared humanity reflected in the words, music, and movement that helps define our great city.”

The artistic director of Chicago Live!, Steve Abrams, has been a fixture in Chicago’s performing arts and non-profit landscape for more than two decades. Steve has worked with Steppenwolf Theatre Company, Chicago Children’s Theatre and has produced and collaborated on numerous festivals, galas and performances and has worked closely with John Waters, Anna Deveare-Smith, Laurie Anderson and the late Stephen Sondheim. In 2016, Steve was named the first Resident Artistic Director of Navy Pier where he created and produced Planet ChicagoPride on the Pier and Chicago Live! Again.

Navy Pier has been an innovative leader in the Chicago community and state of Illinois for decades. I've seen firsthand how this organization has served as a source of joy, entertainment and inspiration for families throughout the years," said Illinois State Sen. Robert Peters (D-Chicago)."In 2021, the Chicago Live! Again program helped to revive the arts and entertainment industry after the world halted due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Now in 2022, Chicago Live! is refilling this region with world class performances from artists who inspire hope to this district and beyond."

To ensure the success and growth of Chicago Live! as an annual performance festival, Navy Pier has assembled an Artistic Advisory Committee that includes (alphabetically) Tina Boyer Brown, The Chicago High School for the Arts (ChiArts) Artistic Director; Greg Cameron, Joffrey Ballet President and CEO; Craig Carlson, IATSE Vice President; Amy Eshelman, Chicago’s First Lady and Arts Advocate; the Illinois Office of Tourism; Marilynn Gardner, Navy Pier President and CEO; Erin Harkey, Chicago Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events Commissioner; Carlos Hernandez-Falcon, Puerto Rican Arts Alliance Founder and Executive Director; Blake-Anthony Johnson, Chicago Sinfonietta President and CEO; Terell Johnson, Chicago Philharmonic Society Executive Director; Donna La Pietra, Kurtis Productions Executive Producer; Pierre Lockett, Forward Momentum Founder and Executive Director; Lynn Osmond, Choose Chicago President and CEO and Julie Wilen, The Pritzker Foundation Executive Director.

Chicago Live! shows the talents, strengths and resilience of Illinoisans. Cultural development and supporting the art community are essential to creating a thriving and passionate state,” Illinois State Rep. Kam Buckner (D-Chicago). "We have stood in the face of adversity and we continue to thrive. It's a true joy to see performing arts front row and center again."

The Chicago Live! performance schedule is available on the Navy Pier website and will be updated as more performances are finalized leading up to the event.

Artists and companies new to Chicago Live! this year include (alphabetically) American Blues Theater, Annoyance Theater, Ayodele Drum and Dance, Blue Man Group, Chicago Dance Crash, Chicago Soul Jazz Collective, Chicago Repertory Ballet, COMMON Conservatory, Congo Square Theatre, Culture Shock Chicago, Deeply Rooted Dance Theater, Dee Alexander, Forward Momentum, Improv Olympic, Jazz Institute of Chicago, puppeteer Jerrell L. Henderson, Jumaane Taylor & Chicago Human Rhythm Project, La Escuelita Bombera de Corazón, MOMENTA Dance Company, the Neo-Futurists, PARA.MA Dance Theatre, Red Clay Dance Company, Trinity Irish Dancers, Visceral Dance Chicago and Young Chicago Authors.


Returning are About Face Theatre, The Actors Gymnasium, Black Ensemble Theater, Broadway in Chicago, The Chicago High School for the Arts (ChiArts), Chicago Children’s Theatre, Chicago Fringe Opera, Chicago Opera Theater, Chicago Shakespeare Theater, Chicago Sinfonietta, Chicago Symphony Orchestra, DJ Readerz, Ensemble Español, Giordano Dance Chicago, Harris Theater, Hiplet, Hubbard Street Dance Chicago, Jabowen Dixon, The Joffrey Ballet, K.F. Jacques,  Kokandy Productions, Korean Performing Arts Institute of Chicago, Lyric Opera of Chicago, Mandala South Asian Performing Arts, Meher Dance Company, Mercury Theater Chicago, Muntu Dance Theater, Northlight Theatre, NuBlu Band, Old Town School of Folk Music, Pinqy Ring, Porchlight Music Theatre, Puerto Rican Arts Alliance, The Seldoms, Soul Children of Chicago, South Chicago Dance Theatre, Victor Garcia and Yin He Dance Company.

More information regarding Chicago Live! will be announced on a later date.

Note: All artists and dates are subject to change.

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About Navy Pier

Navy Pier is the People’s Pier, Chicago’s lakefront treasure, welcoming all and offering dynamic and eclectic experiences through partnerships and programs that inspire discovery and wonder.

Since its reopening in 1995, more than 180 million guests have come to enjoy the Pier's 50 acres of unparalleled attractions and experiences. In 2022, Navy Pier continues to evolve into an accessible, year-round centerpiece for Chicago’s diverse arts and cultural treasures.


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