Chicago Arts & Health Pilot for Creative Workers
Call For Artists


The Chicago Arts & Health Pilot for Creative Workers is a program of the Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events (DCASE) in partnership with the Chicago Department of Public Health (CDPH) and City Colleges of Chicago. This pilot aims to strengthen trauma-informed and culturally responsive health services in communities disproportionately impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. The program explores career pathways for artists centered in creative therapy and trauma-informed care by establishing one-year artist apprenticeships.

Selected artists will be trained as community health workers to offer creative wellness strategies to clients served at the City’s five mental health clinics. Sites for placement include North River Clinic (North Park/Albany Park), Lawndale Clinic, Greater Grand Clinic (Bronzeville), Greater Lawn Clinic, and Englewood Clinic, all targeted communities in CDPH’s trauma informed care network. Priority will go to artists from and/or with existing community connections to the neighborhoods that the City’s mental health clinics serve. Artists from community areas that have been hardest hit by the pandemic will also be given high priority for consideration.

The Chicago Arts & Health Pilot for Creative Workers supports continued recovery from the social, economic, and health impacts of the pandemic by creating job opportunities for creative workers, integrating the arts into the healthcare delivery system, and promoting overall community health and wellness using arts focused strategies. This program aims to address pandemic-related job losses and a deficit in mental health resources. As we navigate recovery, workers and employers are rethinking the future of jobs for the creative sector. Behavioral health is one avenue where creative skills can be transferred. The healthcare sector is also beginning to recognize the need for new strategies to combat social isolation and foster wellbeing that address the variety of ways people experience trauma. This program builds partnerships between city agencies, community health centers, local artists, and communities hit hardest by the pandemic.

This program is supported by federal funding awarded to the City of Chicago by the US Treasury through American Rescue Plan (ARP) Coronavirus State and Local Fiscal Recovery Funds. This program is additionally supported by One Nation One Project, a national Arts and Health initiative and a grant from FGC, A Builders Initiative Foundation Entity.


Apprenticeship Components

Training & Certification

As part of the apprenticeship, selected artists will also participate in the Malcolm X College Community Health Worker (CHW) Program which educates students to enter the field as knowledgeable and culturally competent CHWs. The program seeks to equip graduates with the skills to provide compassionate and holistic care to facilitate improved health outcomes for community residents. In partnership with HRSA’s Opioid-Impacted Scholarship Program, students will receive scholarships for tuition, books, and stipends throughout their time in the CHW program. This program supports their apprenticeship experience and also includes Mental Health First Aid certification training, overdose prevention training, and monthly check-ins with fellow OIFSP scholars to discuss behavioral health career pathways.


Curriculum will prepare certificate seekers to serve as a liaison between the healthcare system and the community with a focus on community and arts centered techniques. The apprenticeship model provides an investment in student success and the development of real-world skills through on-the-job training. In addition to a livable wage and access to a high demand career, benefits include mentoring, coaching support, and quality instruction.

Program Timeline

  Fall 2023: Training Program begins (initial coursework); Arts & Health teams begin developing program design and outreach strategies

  Session Framework: There will be a sequence of 10–12-week sessions from Jan 2024 through Dec 2024. Each session allows artists and health team to determine creative strategies for that period.

  Each session will include approximately 15-20 contact hours weekly with clinic site clients. Additional hours will be used for preparation, rotations outside of artists’ primary clinic placements (i.e., short visiting artist series or popup workshop experiences), and administrative processes including data reporting, evaluation, outreach, planning with health/clinician team and the One Nation One Project creative

o  Winter 2024 - Session 1
o  Spring 2024 - Session 2
o  Summer 2024 - Session 3
o  Fall 2024 – Session 4


Program Goals & Outcomes

  Demonstrate how arts and creativity can be used as a community wellness strategy through quantitative and qualitative data

  Increase career pathways for creative workers concerned with public health, building a pipeline from training/certification to job placement

  Build connections between communities and neighborhood health centers aiming to bring improvement to client experiences and holistic care


Apprenticeship Award

DCASE and CDPH will select up to ten (10) artists for this apprenticeship program. Each artist will be awarded $66,000 covering the artist’s salary and benefits. The award is commensurate with City Colleges’ requirements for full-time sponsored apprenticeships with local healthcare organizations and companies (2000 hours commitment at $20 per hour minimum).

The artist cohort will represent a spectrum of artists with experience in healing modalities including those without certification in healthcare training and those with health-related certifications, licenses, and/or degrees.

Artists selected for the program will receive the following additional benefits:

Fully funded tuition package from City Colleges including tuition, books, and stipends

Materials and supplies budget ($10,000) to support their programming at mental health clinics


Scope of Work

Selected artists will be contracted from June 2023-December 2024. During that time, they will be responsible for the following:

Completion of yearlong community health worker certification program

Apprenticeship placement at one of five City mental health clinics

Participation in planning, research, evaluation, and execution of collective creative response as part of One Nation One Project arts & health initiative

Compliance with data collection, documentation, and reporting requirements for this ARP funded program

Artists are not restricted from holding other forms of employment. However, artists must be available for the required number of apprenticeship hours (30-35 hours per week).

Bilingual artists are strongly encouraged to apply.


Artist Deliverables

Completion of community health worker certification

Preparation and implementation of session activity plans with City clinicians as part of field placement

Attendance at quarterly cohort and monthly site team meetings during placement

Collaborating with other artists in this cohort and the ONOP creative producer, artist will help create and produce culminating creative public event(s) in July 2024 as part of national ONOP arts & health initiative

Documentation and reporting as part of ONOP and federally funded ARP initiatives


Artist Eligibility

Eligible artists must have experienced a negative impact due to the pandemic as indicated by ongoing financial instability, job loss, and/or a decrease in job opportunities. To prove eligibility as part of the impacted class, artists must provide evidence of one of the following:

1. Residence in qualifying community areas including low to moderate income communities (see HUD Community Block Development Grant map) and/or qualified census tracts. Acceptable proof of residency documents include one of the following from each of the two types:

o Driver's License, State ID, passport, or CityKey with address

o A lease, utility bill, or bank statement with matching address

2. 65% annual median income via proof of income. Must provide proof of annual household income that does not exceed the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) established Low to Moderate Income limits for the Chicago Metro Area. ($47,450 or less for a single individual, $49,822.50 or less for a family of 4). Income documentation to prove loss of income during the pandemic includes:

o  Total 2019 household income (as listed on Line 7b of 2019 1040 tax return) and Total 2020 or 2021 household income (as listed on Line 9 of 2020 1040 tax return)

o  A copy of 2019 and 2020 or 2021 W2 statements

3. Evidence of dislocated worker status via one of the following between March 2020-December 2021:

o  Provide evidence that place of business closed (e.g. notice from employer)

o  Documentation of exhausted unemployment benefits (eg, letter from IDES)

Artists must also meet the following criteria in order to be eligible for the program:

•  Be a resident of the city of Chicago, Illinois with a valid street address (no PO boxes). A Driver’s License, State I.D., passport, or Chicago CityKey showing Chicago address must be provided. No other proof of Chicago residency will be accepted. Chicago must be the home base and geographic focus for applicants.

•  Be at least 18 years old

•  Show evidence of high school degree, GED, or comparable

•  Include an artist resume/CV with at least two years of professional experience as an arts maker, educator, and/or facilitator

•  Have or secure liability insurance by the time of field placement

To be considered for the apprenticeship program, artists must demonstrate the following expectations and commitments:

At least two (2) years of professional arts experience with a focus on community integrated artistic creation, instruction, and/or facilitation

A developed creative practice in one or more of creative disciplines such as visual arts, literary arts, and/or embodied/performing arts

An interest and/or background in health and/or healing modalities as a component of their creative practice

Availability to start community health worker certification training in Summer 2023

A commitment to the apprenticeship and completion of the community health worker certification from September 2023-December 2024. If an artist already has comparable health credentials, revised training arrangements may be made.

Individuals with outstanding, existing debt with the City of Chicago are ineligible. Please set up payment plans or pay off existing debt (parking tickets, utility bills, etc.) with Department of Finance:


Selection Process and Criteria

Applicants will be vetted by a committee of stakeholders, including representatives from DCASE, CDPH, artist and healthcare professionals, and community members with collective experience (professional or personal) spanning arts, culture, healthcare, public health, community building, and/or organizing.

Finalists will be invited to interview and share a sample workshop based on a competitive review of the following:

•  Artistic Merit: Artistic merit and professional qualifications demonstrated in a dynamic creative portfolio that includes evidence of a clear interest and/or experience in arts and healing and/or trauma informed strategies (10 points)

•  Quality of Applicant’s Facilitation Approach: The applicant’s approach to group facilitation and/or creative learning experiences possesses rigor, curiosity, originality, intention, and values participation and collaboration. (10 points)

•  Presence of a Care Aesthetic: The applicant thoughtfully demonstrates approaches to, and an interest in, weaving care and healing into their artistic practice as a response to trauma and violence. (5 points)

•  Potential Impact on Applicant: The program’s potential to positively impact the applicant’s work/career. (5 points)

•  Public Benefit: The applicant demonstrates potential to positively impact Chicago’s residents and communities. (5 points)

•  Equity: A commitment to equity and access, as demonstrated through past work and leadership. (5 points) Note: The City of Chicago defines equity as both an outcome and a process that results in fair and just access to opportunity and resources that provide everyone the ability to thrive. Please visit the City of Chicago’s Office of Equity and Racial Justice for more information about the City of Chicago’s Equity Statement of Principles.





 Application Opens
 June 1, 2023    
 Application Closes
 June 22, 2023
 Finalist Interviews & Sample Workshops
 Late July/Early Aug. 2023
 Artists Selected, Training & Site Matching  August 2023
 Artist & Health Site Teams Confirm Offerings
 November 2023
 Artist Apprenticeship Placements Begin  January 2024


ARPA Funding Category: 2.36 – Aid to Other Impacted Industries

This project is supported in part by federal assistance listing number 21.027 awarded to the City of Chicago by the US Treasury through the American Rescue Plan Coronavirus State and Local Fiscal Recovery Funds.



Please email Meida McNeal, Senior Manager, Arts & Community Impact Investments, DCASE at with questions.