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Helen Doria Arts in the Park Award
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Helen Doria Arts in the Park Award

AGAIN THIS YEAR: The agency that wins 1st place in the Helen Doria Arts in the Park category will receive a grant in the amount of $2,500 from the Helen Doria Foundation to support future arts programming in the park.

The grant recipient will be announced at this year's Best of the Best Awards Gala. The Helen Doria Foundation continues Helen's legacy of making our communities stronger with creative and innovative arts, culture and open spaces, and by improving the lives of young people. 

(Reminder: 2016 and 2017 winners of the Arts in the Park award are not eligible to apply.)

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. From her early work as a cultural programmer developing cultural festivals for the Chicago Park District, to her appointment by Mayor Richard M. Daley as Millennium Park's first executive director, Helen envisioned parks as democratic spaces that can provide access to arts and culture for everyone. She was a judge for this award since its inception in 2009 until her passing in 2012, and her leadership was instrumental in its development.

This award recognizes agencies (park districts, forest preserves, conservation, recreation, and special recreation agencies) that support the arts and partner with artists and arts organizations to enhance the quality of life in their communities. Applicants are encouraged to discuss the full scope of arts activities they support, however, outstanding individual programs or events will also be considered. Application narrative should address the following:

  • How your agency actively and intentionally demonstrates its commitment to the arts
  • How your agency integrates the arts into overall strategies to strengthen the community and address community needs
  • How your agency partners with artists and arts organizations to implement its initiatives

Applications will be evaluated according to the following criteria:

  • Equity of access to arts programming among all citizens
  • Variety of artistic opportunities and experiences across multiple disciplines (i.e. dance, performance, visual art, media, music, etc.)
  • Evidence of collaboration with a broad range of partners, including teaching artists and organizations
  • Integration of the arts in non-arts programs
  • Diversity of ethnic and cultural programming represented
  • Long-term commitment to arts in the community
  • Development of new relationships with arts providers and experimentation with innovative program offerings
  • Sustained relationships with existing arts partners
  • Community impact and engagement
  • Press coverage highlights the importance of the arts in the community

2015 and 2016 winners of the Arts in the Park Award are not eligible to apply.

There is a $35 processing fee for each nomination. You will need to submit two documents for this narrative. The first is a full description of the nomination, not to exceed 750 words. The full description should be a detailed explanation of arts nomination. The second document is a condensed summary of the nomination, not to exceed 200 words. This condensed summary is how you would present your nomination to an audience. These two documents must be submitted via e-mail to as .pdf attachments in the following format:

  • Times New Roman or Arial Font
  • 12 point font size
  • Agency name and award nomination title centered at the top of the page
  • Contact name, phone number and e-mail address centered at the top of the page
  • Single spaced
  • Agency logo attached as a .JPEG, .TIFF or .EPS file with a resolution of no less than 300 dpi.
  • Supportive materials including newspaper clippings, photos, etc. (not to exceed 5 pages or 5 attachments) must be e-mailed to as .pdf attachments. NOTE:  No hard copy supportive materials will accepted for this award. All submissions must be sent electronically.

Nominations are due NOON on WEDNESDAY, AUGUST 1, 2018. Your agency must be an IAPD member to apply.