Thank you for a successful Tuesday night concert series in 2019! Check back here in early June 2020 for our 2020 lineup of concerts!
Tuesdays at the Gazebo – A Summer Tradition in Welles Park
(Special thanks to Gene Schulter and Becky Kliber for sharing their knowledge)
Tuesday night concerts at Welles Park began in approximately 1994, when then-alderman Gene Schulter and his team sought to bring more cultural arts programming to the 47th ward, and envisioned a “Ravinia-like” experience in the city. Schulter gathered the local parks and chambers of commerce to divide the ward into quadrants, and helped to facilitate the evening summer music series in each of four spaces which continue to this day: Northcenter Town Square, Giddings Plaza, Chase Park, and Welles Park. At the time, there were no arts organizations in the ward, but that would soon change…dramatically!
Welles Park concerts began even before current park supervisor Becky Kliber was the area manager for the Chicago Park District, and were likely organized by the previous park supervisor with the support of the alderman’s office. In 1999, the Old Town School of Folk Music opened nearby on Lincoln Avenue, and it helped to program and donate the concerts for some years into the mid-00s. Additionally, with funds raised through the Old Town School’s annual Folk & Roots Festival (held in Welles Park from 1998 to 2012), the Welles Park Advisory Council funded the balance of the concerts, with Kliber planning and executing the events with the help of park staff.
The concerts also predated the Gazebo structure itself. The Welles Park Gazebo was opened in 2004 and, according to Schulter, has a companion structure in Paris. Funding for the Gazebo was organized by Schulter, and came from private donors, many of whom remain anonymous.
In the mid-late 2000s, the Old Town School ceased its concert sponsorship, and, under Kliber’s management, the Welles Park Advisory Council took over fiscal sponsorship and much of the programming of the concerts through the early 2010s, soliciting sponsors such as The Welles Park Parents (Baseball) Association, local elected officials and businesses, and The Gene and Rosemary Schulter Foundation, and financing the balance through WPAC’s extant fundraising. Starting in 2012, Kliber organized an in-kind trade of three concerts per season for the Old Town School’s use of the park for its summer arts camps. And, beginning in 2014, the Welles Park Baseball Association (WPPA) began to sponsor a larger portion of the Tuesday series performances and equipment.
Also in 2014, the citywide Chicago Park District program called Nights Out in the Parks began, and incorporated the Welles Tuesday night concert series into its promotions. Since 2016, Welles has benefitted from one to four concerts or events per summer through this series.
The Welles Park Advisory Council remains the official fiscal agent for the series, and collaborates with Kliber to program the overall 10 to 11 weeks of concerts per summer, and WPAC is responsible for payments to an on-site sound engineer when needed, plus manages the fall performer payments, donations, and sponsorships of the series.
– Sarah Dandelles, WPAC Treasurer, 2019
If you, your organization or your business is interested in sponsorship opportunities for this beloved (and very well-attended) neighborhood series, please contact the Advisory Council: firstname.lastname@example.org