It was a morning of artful conversation, announcements and even a few laughs at a Choose Chicago's reception, which featured representatives from the Art Institute of Chicago, the Chicago Architectural Biennial, EXPO Chicago and the Museum of Contemporary Art all showcasing an impressive lineup of exhibitions that invited attendees to 'experience something epic' in 2015.
Melissa Cherry, vice-president, cultural tourism and neighbourhoods for Choose Chicago, kicked off the event by introducing the city as a cultural hub for art, design, cuisine and diversity that, simply put, "does things big."
“Chicago is a city that was built on little plans,” she told PAX following the presentation. “It’s part of a philosophy that all Chicagoans – both long-time residents and newcomers to the city – live and breathe by. So when we talk about doing something in our city, it won’t be a small thing. It’ll be big, it’ll be ground-breaking, and it’ll push the envelope.”
Among the culturally-focused events slated for the coming year were sculpture, photography, digital media and architectural exhibitions at the Art Institute (recently named the number one museum in the world by TripAdvisor); the arrival of the inaugural Chicago Architectural Biennial, North America’s largest international survey of contemporary architecture; EXPO Chicago’s fourth year as a leading art fair featuring more than 140 international galleries and dialogues, and a variety of interactive, musical and provocative collections being featured by the Museum of Contemporary Art.
Chicago will also feature a range of exhibits and events throughout the city in 2015, including the opening of the 606 Park, Taste of Chicago, the Chicago Blues Festival and the Chicago Pride Fest and Parade.
Also in attendance was Nick Polifemi, vice-president, partnership development for itravel2000, who explained how the company recently seized the opportunity to partner up with Choose Chicago, offering promotions and incentives for Canadians looking to visit the city. As part of the event, Polifemi announced an offer providing $40 off all trips to Chicago, including free Park N Fly.
The partnership is the result of an attempt to make Chicago more accessible to Canadian travellers, a market Cherry says is invaluable to the city.
“Canada is our number one international market,” she told PAX, explaining that although the 2014 numbers won’t be out until July, overnight visitation from Canada reached 525,000 in 2013 and is expected to have grown substantially.
“We typically just over 800,000 Canadians both over night and day visitors, [mostly because] Ontario, which is the number one province bringing Canadian visitors to the city, is only a two hour flight away – it’s even close enough to drive.”
According to Cherry, Chicago is made unique by its versatility as a destination.
“You think of New York, Paris, those cities with timeless magnificence that bring to mind a particular style or experience,” she said. “In Chicago, you get different vibes in every corner of the city, but you’re still going to get an authentic experience that will be memorable. It’s always changing.”
For more information, visit www.choosechicago.com.
Notable Chicago Events in 2015:
James Beard Foundation Awards: May 4, 2015
Robot Revolution at the Museum of Science and Industry: Opening May 21, 2015 to Jan 3, 2016
Maggie Daley Park: Opening Spring 2015
Chicago Gospel Music Festival: May 29 - 31, 2015
The 606 Park: Opening Summer 2015
Chicago Blues Festival: June 12 - 14, 2015
The Royal Balet Performs “Don Quixote” at the Auditorium Theatre: June 18 - 21, 2015
Chicago Pride Fest and Parade: June 20 - 21; 28, 2015
Taste of Chicago: July 8 - 12, 2015
The Freedom Principle: Experiments in Art and Music at the Museum of Contemporary Art: July 11 – Nov. 22, 2015
Chicago Jazz Festival: Sept. 3 - 6, 2015
ITU World Triathalon Grand Final: Sept. 15 - 20, 2015
EXPO Chicago: Sept. 17 - 20, 2015
David Adjaye at the Art Institute of Chicago: Sept. 19, 2015 – Feb. 7, 2016
Chicago Architecture Biennial: Oct. 2015 – Jan 3, 2016
PHOTO: Melissa Cherry, vice-president, cultural tourism and neighbourhoods, Choose Chicago; Elena Grotto, manager, media & public relations, Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago; Nora Gainer, tourism marketing, Art Institute of Chicago; Timothy Speicher, marketing manager, Chicago Architectural Biennial; Tony Karman, president, director of EXPO, Chicago; Nick Polifemi, vice-president, partnership development, iTravel2000 & Sana Keller, public relations account director – Canada, Choose Chicago