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Deerfield Park District’s First Place Arts Recognition

© Bobbie Jo Hill

Pictured: Back row L to R: Peter Murphy, President and CEO-IAPD; Zachary Whittenburg, Communications and Engagement Director-Arts Alliance; Rick Patinkin and Greg Lapin, Deerfield Park District Commissioners; Tom Barz, 2017 Chairman of the Board-IAPD. Front Row L to R: Gil Antokal, Deerfield Park District Commissioner; Linda Anderson, Director of Recreation and Mark Woolums, Facility Manager Deerfield Park District; Jan Caron, Deerfield Park District Commissioner and Jeff Nehila, Executive Director, Deerfield Park District. 

Deerfield Park District staff and commissioners celebrate receiving first place for the Illinois Association of Park Districts' (IAPD) Helen Doria Arts in the Park Award. The Arts in the Park Award is named in memory of Helen Doria, who dedicated her career to creating a space for the arts in Chicago's parks.

This award recognizes agencies that support the arts and partner with artists and arts organizations to enhance the quality of life in their communities. The 2017 nominations for the award were judged by the Arts Alliance Illinois.

For fifty years the Deerfield Park District has offered innovative arts programs to its residents. These programs cover a gamut of disciplines and age groups. The district hires professional artists and teachers to instruct classes in youth ceramics, pottery wheel, art, multimedia and painting at the district’s studios in its Jewett Park Community Center. The age groups start at preschool and run through senior citizens. Over 1,380 people participated in these programs within the last year, with another 3,300 attending shows and concerts.

The district’s theater arts program is just as diverse as it partners with the Sarah Hall Theater Company to offer programs and annual productions. The district also sponsors the Deerfield Family Theater, which utilizes a board of 13 community members to hire a professional crew and offers an annual fall musical for a cast of 40-60. Just this year, the Family Theater auditioned 160 community members for its upcoming production of Into the Woods! The Family Theater’s annual production sells an average of 2,000 seats every year. Not to be outdone, the district’s Theater D program, which focuses on an adult audience and offers an annual spring show, drew nearly 500 attendees in a smaller venue for its recent I Hate Hamlet production.

The park district also provides a multitude of music, voice and dance programs for all ages, starting at 3 years old with its Pre-Ballet program to Seniors in Adult Ballet. A partnership with Soul 2 Sole Dance Company teaches Hip Hop to boys and girls from grades K - 5 via enrichment programs at four Deerfield elementary schools. The park district’s Summer Sampler program offers six free concerts in the parks every year, covering a wide range of music from Motown to rock to country. The free Art in the Park program is another great offering designed to promote art for families -- and that’s just the park district!

The Deerfield community also provides a plethora of arts programs and is spearheaded by the Village of Deerfield’s Fine Arts Commission. The Commission is made up of village, park district, library and school district representatives, along with local artists and residents. One significant event the Commission hosts is its annual Summer Weekend Arts Festival which draws thousands of visitors every year. The Commission also coordinates initiatives with the village such as amending village code to permit local artwork to be displayed in vacant office and retail spaces downtown. In addition, the Commission coordinates the Public Art program where a number of local artists are selected to display their works in many public buildings for one year terms. The park district provides three public facilities where local art is displayed.  

Another significant community project the Commission, the village and the park district participate in is the public display of art outside of its facilities. At Village Hall, a number of large sculptures are located on the front lawn. The pieces were salvaged from a corporate headquarters of a large firm that moved out of Deerfield. The park district serves as host for 2 large sculptures at the entrance to its Deerspring Pool which were donated by a local artist. The park district’s Patty Turner Senior Center also has a large sculpture outside on display from the estate of Patty Turner. And there's more!

In 2017, the Commission, in partnership with Deerfield High School, conducted a High School Arts Contest where the winners were provided an opportunity to have their work on public display for a year. The winning picture was enlarged to a 10x20 foot banner that is mounted to an exterior wall of a building downtown. The runner-up's piece was enlarged to a 5x8 foot banner which is on display at the park district's Jewett Park Community Center.

The Deerfield Park District looks forward to continuing to expand arts opportunities and are honored to receive the esteemed recognition of the Helen Doria Arts in the Park Award from the Arts Alliance Illinois. We proudly acknowledge the amazing staff, teachers, students, local artists and partners who continue to share their wide array of talent and diverse programming with the residents of Deerfield.


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Deerfield Park District
836 Jewett Park Drive
Deerfield, IL 60015
(847) 945-0650
(847) 945-0699 (fax)
©2017 Deerfield Park District. All Rights Reserved.