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The Chicago Humanities Festival: A Celebration of the Liberal Arts

Every first and second week in November since 1990, Chicago has played host to a remarkable event: The Chicago Humanities Festival. It is an event that brings creative thinkers from all over the world to Chicago as a celebration of the brilliance of the humanities.

The festival takes on a new theme every year. Last year it was “Animals – What makes us human?” The year before, “America.” The first year, the festival was themed, “Expressions of Freedom.” Every year, the theme decides what poets, artists, authors, and policy makers will create and share.

For 25 years, the Chicago Humanities Festival has hosted over 3,000 individual performers and speakers. Among them were Pulitzer Prize-winners, MacArthur Fellows, and Tony, Grammy and Academy Award winners. The participants of the festival are thoughtfully put together to provide a balance of perspectives and creative approaches.

Phillip Bahar, the Executive Director of Chicago Humanities Festival, states that, “The Festival offers a unique opportunity for patrons to engage with experts in the arts and humanities in an accessible manner.”

However, he is also aware of the challenges that come with coordinating a festival of this kind. Bahar reminds young organizations and businesses that, “It’s easy to become blinded by one’s own vision of the world. Every organization must check and double-check with its customers and audiences to ensure that it is consistently delivering value—whether in the form of a product, a financial investment, or intellectual stimulation."

He also advises others to, “Be more ambitious every year. Drive everyone involved to be expansive—from the staff and Board to your audiences.”

Make sure to check out this year’s Chicago Humanities Festival, themed “Journeys,” from October 25th through November 9th.

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