City announces $2.5 million arts fund

(DCASE announces arts grants program)

Mayor Lori E. Lightfoot and the Chicago Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events (DCASE) today announced $2.5 million in funding opportunities for Chicago artists and arts organizations.

A new “Artist Response Program,” opening January 11, will provide $750,000 to support art that respond to the recent health, economic and humanitarian crises. The program includes $500,000 to commission up to 10 ambitious public art projects and an additional $250,000 for three to five regranting partners to distribute for smaller local projects.

The annual “CityArts Program” opening January 19 will also award an additional $1.7 million in grants to nonprofit arts organizations throughout Chicago. 

“Our city is facing a critical moment in its history, as the COVID-19 pandemic has amplified systemic racism and disinvestment on our South and West sides and caused us to rethink and reignite our efforts to address these issues,” said Mayor Lightfoot. “This has presented us with a unique opportunity to not only rebuild our city with the values of equity and inclusion in mind, but also document this journey with art projects designed to engage residents in dialogue, reflection and action. I look forward to seeing these projects come to life and illustrate the work we’ve done as a city to step up to the health, economic, and humanitarian crises we’ve faced over this past year.” 

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DCASE is currently seeking artist proposals for up to 10 public art commissions ranging from $50,000 to $100,000. Artist projects can range from a physical artwork, to the transformation/repurposing of spaces or objects, to a happening or cultural event focused on any artistic discipline including architecture, culinary arts, curatorial arts, dance, design, film, literary arts, media arts, music, performance art, photography, public art, social practice, theater or visual arts.

Projects will be prioritized that address public safety, equity and access through art; activate, repair or rebuild spaces on the South and West sides of Chicago; or activate Chicago communities and institutions to address broader social issues, opportunities and challenges. 

“Chicago has a renowned public art collection, but that work has too often been focused on the central district of the city,” said DCASE Commissioner Mark Kelly. “With this initiative and more to come, we will bring more great public art to our neighborhoods, with a focus on the South and West Sides of the city, and we will encourage our artists to grapple with the difficult social issues that we collectively face.” 

The Artist Response Program also provides $250,000 for three to five regranting partners to distribute grants of $1,000 to $10,000 to artists to create projects designed to engage residents in dialogue, reflection and action.

This follows the successful re-granting model that allowed DCASE in 2020 to partner with Arts Alliance Illinois, 3Arts, Arts Work Fund and the broader philanthropic community to create the Arts for Illinois Relief Fund. These partners, better positioned to respond quickly to crises and the complex needs of individual communities and neighborhoods, distributed financial relief to workers, organizations and businesses in the creative industries impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. Organizations interested in becoming Artist Response Program re-granting partners can learn more and apply at The application closes on February 5, at 5 p.m., CST. 

DCASE will also soon release the guidelines and open the application for the annual CityArts grant program on January 19. Offering $1.7M in grants to nonprofit arts and culture organizations of all sizes, this year’s program will include opportunities to apply for general operating grants and project grants focused on rebuilding and recovery across all artistic disciplines. Project grants will support initiatives that have the potential to impact the Chicago arts sector at large.

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The guidelines and application, opening January 11, is available at Registration is available for an application webinar on Friday, January 15, at 11 a.m. The application closes on February 5, at 5 p.m., CST

SOURCE: City of Chicago