City of Chicago awards $2m in CityArts Program grants

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Mayor Lori E. Lightfoot and the Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events (DCASE) announced the recipients of the 2020 CityArts Program grants.

This year, the CityArts Program is awarding general operating grants between $2,000 to $30,000 – and special project grants ranging from $2,500 to $56,200 – to 191 nonprofit organizations for a total of $2 million. The project grants are being awarded in alignment with the Year of Chicago Music, now continuing through 2021.

“The COVID-19 outbreak is devastating the creative sector, and the need is tremendous,” said Mayor Lightfoot. “In these very challenging times, the City of Chicago is supporting its local arts organizations through the CityArts Program, other cultural grant programs and the Arts for Illinois Relief Fund. Still, we hope that other public and private sources of funding step up to ensure the sector’s immediate and long-term viability.”


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DCASE has more than doubled its grants in general operating expenses – unrestricted funds that may be used however the grantee wishes – over the last four years, in recognition that these are increasingly critical for nonprofit organizations to carry out their missions. Further, to make more impactful grants to arts organizations during this time of need, the number of general operating grants made through this program has increased by 25% over 2019 and the average general operating grant amount has increased by 20%.

These increases were made possible in part by a $250,000 award from the National Endowment for the Arts as part of the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act. This grant contributes funds to the CityArts Program for distribution to local nonprofit arts and cultural organizations.

The 2020 CityArts Program project grants are awarded in alignment with the City’s Year of Chicago Music to strengthen Chicago’s music landscape – one of the most influential music communities on the globe – to highlight its legacy, expand its audience and grow its capacity. Funded projects include audience development and marketing strategies for Chicago musicians and music organizations; initiatives that are documenting, celebrating and preserving Chicago’s unique musical legacy; and innovative programs that could serve as replicable models for the industry.

Examples of the organizations supported through project grants include Arts & Business Council of Chicago in partnership with Chicago Reader (Chicago Music Website), Arts Alliance Illinois in partnership with 2112 and CCE (Chicago License Local Initiative), Asian Improv aRts Midwest (Archiving Chicago’s Asian American Jazz & Creative Music Collaborations) and the Black Ensemble Theater (Black Ensemble Intercultural Music Festival).

Mayor Lightfoot is committed to supporting Chicago’s rich arts and culture community and last fall announced a $1 million increase in City funding for the DCASE Cultural Grants Program, bringing the total budget to $2.7 million. This increased budget fulfills a commitment to prioritize equitable grantmaking and microfinancing to individual artists, organizations and arts corridors throughout Chicago, particularly in communities of need.

Earlier this year, the City of Chicago and DCASE also announced 158 project-based Individual Artists Program grants ranging from $850 to $5,000 — to resident Chicago artists across all artistic disciplines including film & media arts, literary arts, performing arts (theatre/dance), music and visual arts/design. Additionally, 13 high-qualified artists received the Esteemed Artist Award, a special new $10,000 grant for expenses associated with an artist’s practice, such as studio rental, supplies, travel and equipment.

The City of Chicago has also partnered with the State of Illinois, Arts Alliance Illinois and the broader philanthropic community to provide financial relief to workers and organizations in the creative industries impacted by COVID-19. Since its launch in April 2020, the Arts for Illinois Relief Fund has awarded well over $5 million to 1,460 artists and 233 organizations across the state. The fund is administered by Arts Alliance Illinois in partnership with 3Arts and Arts Work Fund, long-standing and trusted service organizations and grantmakers.

In addition to this important relief fund, Arts Alliance Illinois’s COVID Relief Policy Agenda for the Arts is demanding stronger federal support for nonprofits and small businesses, especially in communities of color; continuation of expanded unemployment benefits; increased incentives for charitable giving; and federal assistance in offsetting state and local revenue shortfalls. For details, VISIT HERE.

Since 1984, the Cultural Grants Program has served as a catalyst to foster a robust, healthy arts community where artists, non-profit arts and culture and creative industries thrive. For more information, please VISIT HERE.

2020 CityArts Program Grant Recipients

3Arts, Inc. 
826CHI 
.B.L.E. 
About Face Theatre Collective 
Access Contemporary Music 
Adventure Stage Chicago 
Africa International House USA
Alliance Française de Chicago
American Blues Theater 
ARC Educational Foundation 
Art on Sedgwick 
ArtReach Chicago 
Arts & Business Council of Chicago 
Arts Alliance Illinois 
Arts of Life, Inc. 
Asian Improv aRts: Midwest 
Association for the Advancement of Creative Musicians 
Auditorium Theatre 
Awakenings Art 
Babes with Blades Theatre Company 
Balzekas Museum of Lithuanian Culture 
Beyond This Point Performing Arts Association 
Black Ensemble Theater 
Blair Thomas & Company 
Blues Kids Foundation 
Cedille Chicago 
Changing Worlds 
Chicago Architecture Foundation 
Chicago Art Department 
Chicago Arts and Music Project 
Chicago Balinese Gamelan 
Chicago Blues Revival 
Chicago Center for Arts and Technology 
Chicago Children’s Theatre 
Chicago Children’s Choir 
Chicago Collections Consortium 
Chicago Composers Orchestra 
Chicago Cultural Alliance 
Chicago Dance History Project 
Chicago Danztheatre Ensemble 
Chicago Film Society 
Chicago Humanities Festival 
Chicago Independent Radio Project (CHIRP) 
Chicago Jazz Philharmonic 
Chicago Latino Theater Alliance 
Chicago Metamorphosis Orchestra Project 
Chicago Moving Company 
Chicago Printers Guild 
Chicago Public Media 
Chicago Shakespeare Theater 
Chicago Sinfonietta 
Chicago Tap Theatre 
Chicago Theatre Group, Inc. 
Chicago West Community Music Center 
Chicago Youth Shakespeare 
Chicago Architecture Biennial. 
Cinema/Chicago 
CircEsteem 
Clinard Dance 
Collaboraction Theatre Company 
Comfort Station 
Community TV Network 
Court Theatre Fund 
Creative Chicago Reuse Exchange (CCRX) 
Culture/Math 
Dance in the Parks 
DanceWorks Chicago 
Deeply Rooted Dance Theater 
Design Museum of Chicago 
Eighth Blackbird Performing Arts Association 
Elastic Arts Foundation 
Enrich Chicago 
Ensemble Dal Niente 
Ensemble Español Spanish Dance Theater 
Experimental Sound Studio 
Facets Multi-Media, Inc. 
Federacion Jalisciense del Medio Oeste de los Estado Unidos 
Fifth House Ensemble 
Filament Theatre Ensemble 
Filter Photo 
Forward Momentum Chicago 
Free Lunch Academy 
Free Street Theater 
Friends of the Gamelan, Inc. 
Fulcrum Point New Music Project 
Gene Siskel Film Center 
Green Star Movement 
Gus Giordano’s Jazz Dance Chicago 
Hedwig Dances 
Homeroom 
Hubbard Street Dance Chicago 
Hyde Park Jazz Festival 
Hyde Park School of Dance 
Hyde Park Youth Sinfonia 
Hypertext Magazine & Studio 
Ignition Community Glass 
Independent Film Alliance 
Instituto Cervantes of Chicago 
Interrobang Theatre Project 
Intonation Music 
Intuit: The Center for Intuitive and Outsider Art 
Jackalope Theatre Company 
Kalapriya Foundation, Center for Indian Performing Arts 
Khecari 
KLEO Center 
Kuumba Lynx 
Lampo 
Latitude 
Lawyers for the Creative Arts 
Little Black Pearl 
Live the Spirit Residency 
Lucky Plush Productions 
Lyric Opera of Chicago 
MAKE Literary Productions 
Mandala South Asian Performing Arts 
Marwen Foundation 
Media Burn Archive 
Mexican Folkloric Dance Company of Chicago 
Museum of Contemporary Photography at Columbia College Chicago 
Music of the Baroque 
Musical Arts Institute 
NAJWA Dance Corps 
National Cambodian Heritage Museum & Killing Fields Memorial Museum & Killing Fields Memorial 
National Public Housing Museum 
Natya Dance Theatre 
New Music Chicago 
New Rhythm Arts Center 
Next Level Society 
Nothing Without a Company 
One City at VanderCook College of Music 
Opera-Matic 
Otherworld Theatre Company 
Pegasus Theatre Chicago 
People’s Music School 
Prop Thtr 
Puerto Rican Arts Alliance 
Red Theater Chicago 
São Paulo – Illinois Partners 
Shattered Globe Theatre 
Shift: Englewood 
Silk Road Rising 
SkyART 
Soft Cage Films 
Sones de Mexico Ensemble 
Sophia’s Choice 
South Asian Classical Music Society of Chicago 
South Chicago Dance Theatre 
Spektral Quartet 
Spudnik Press Cooperative 
Steep Theatre Company 
Storycatchers Theatre 
Strawdog Theatre Company 
Synapse Arts 
Teatro Vista 
Tellin’ Tales Theatre 
Territory 
The Artists’ Cooperative Residency and Exhibitions Project 
The Ballet Chicago Company 
The Chicago Cuatro Orchestra Project 
The Chicago Mosaic School 
The Chicago Philharmonic Society 
The Conspirators NFP 
The House Theatre of Chicago 
The Illinois Humanities Council 
The Joffrey Ballet 
The Miracle Center 
The National Museum of Puerto Rican Arts and Culture 
The Old Town School of Folk Music 
The Poetry Center 
The Rebuild Foundation 
The Seldoms 
The Story Theatre 
The World Music Foundation 
Theater Wit 
Third Coast Percussion 
Tight Five Productions 
Ukrainian National Museum 
Underscore Theatre Company 
University of Chicago, Arts + Public Life 
Urban Gateways 
Urban Juncture Foundation 
Victory Gardens Theater 
Villapalooza 
Walkabout Theater Company 
Water People Theater 
Wicker Park Choral Singers 
Window to the World Communications 
Working in Concert 
Yin He Dance 
Young Chicago Authors 

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