Chicagoans Replace Sunscreen with the Small Screen as Outdoor Festivals Move Online

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COVID, SCHMO-VID. Even though several city festivals have been canceled, a handful of cultural celebrations will not be deterred by a mere pandemic. After all, if the New Normal includes wearing face masks, giving elbow bumps and watching sports games sans fans in the stands, then attending an at-home festival seems totally apropos.

Like the Chicago Caribbean Carnival and Old Town Art Fair, which will now both be hosted via virtual venues, Make Music Day (June 21) is orchestrating a shelter-in-place shindig. To learn more, visit makemusicchicago.org.

The Dramatic Improv Festival (Sep. 12-13) is also moving entirely online with remote classes, panel discussions, previously-recorded acts, and performances streamed live from international theaters. Artists and instructors interested in participating may submit applications before June 30 at dramaticimprovfest.com.

Similarly, the eighth annual Pivot Arts Festival (June 5-11) is pivoting from Chicago locations to online presentations. The virtual event includes performance art, immersive theater, hip-hop opera, animation, and work by Red Clay Dance Company and The Era Footwork Crew.

“It’s essential for arts organizations to adapt and model resiliency and creativity during these challenging times,” explains Founder and Director Julieanne Ehre. “While we cannot present the Pivot Arts Festival as we intended, we are creating a virtual space for artists and audiences to experience performance during this time of crisis.”

This space features “(Un)Touched”—a series of short video performances that capture both the absence and impossibility of touch and moments of connection during the quarantine. Curated by Ehre and Tanya Palmer, the videos will premiere at 6 p.m. on June 8. All festival content will remain available through June 30 at pivotarts.org/festival.

The Chosen Few DJs Music Fest & Picnic (July 4) is transitioning from a mass in-person gathering to a virtual one. The online offering includes live-streamed performances and DJ sets. Although attendance is free, a portion of donations will go to charity. Click here for details.

“North Star” by Georgette Kelly is among the premiere pieces being showcased in Victory Gardens Theater’s annual IGNITION Festival of New Plays. This summer, the event will be online and will feature free readings of four fresh works from Chicago playwrights on Thursday evenings at 7 p.m. Each reading includes a “Coffee with the Creators” chat at noon on the following day.

“This year’s fully digital IGNITION Festival will be accessible to people across the world as it never has been before—and that makes it the perfect time to celebrate the work of Chicago artists, and to recognize the vital role that the arts play in our communities,” says Literary and Public Programs Manager Kat Zukaitis.

“Despite these challenging times, Victory Gardens continues to believe that art and Chicago communities will endure,” adds Artistic Director Chay Yew. “This year, we give a home to our new generation of local playwrights who shine light on our diverse humanity, whose powerful plays create meaningful dialogue towards a more unified and equitable Chicago.”

For a festival schedule, visit www.victorygardens.org.

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Image: Anna Martine Whitehead appears in “(Un)Touched” courtesy of the Pivot Arts Festival. Photo by William Frederking.

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Ms. Arvia is a freelance writer, former filmmaker, artist and Janet-of-all-trades who is pleased to serve as Arts & Culture Editor on our magazine since she’s always been Rebellious.