Chicago Presents

The Chicago Presents program is currently undergoing program revisions and will not be offering an open call for applications to support 2024 events. Thank you for your understanding during this reevaluation period. Please check back for updates on the Chicago Presents grant program, which will be shared on our website as available.

2023 Chicago Presents Guidelines (PDF)



Program Overview

Chicago Presents is a grant program to support the presentation of free arts programming in Chicago neighborhoods while bolstering the local arts event industry.

Established and emerging cultural presenters are invited to submit proposals for large-scale indoor or outdoor events across artistic disciplines that will occur anytime in 2023. Chicago Presents funding aims to support free, live, in-person public events, including festivals, series, art fairs, block parties and parades, spanning all genres, that activate Chicago’s neighborhoods. Proposals to enhance existing events or to provide for new events are both eligible. We anticipate making approximately 30-40 grants for amounts ranging from $10,000 - $75,000 with consideration of size of event.

As part of the 2023 Chicago Presents program, DCASE is launching the Chicago Presents Loop Program, a special initiative to support arts programming in Chicago’s downtown as a strategy to complement recovery and revitalization efforts taking place in the heart of the city. Applicants that are otherwise eligible for the 2023 Chicago Presents program will automatically be considered for the Chicago Presents Loop Program if their event activities will take place in the downtown area.

For all DCASE Cultural Grant programs, eligible applicants can submit ONE proposal for consideration per program per year. If a funding decision has already been made on a proposal from your organization for 2023 Chicago Presents, your next opportunity to apply will be the 2024 Chicago Presents application, opening Fall 2023. Additionally, multiple proposals to support the same event will not be considered within the same year, even if submitted by different applicants.


Updates for 2023

• Both indoor and outdoor events are eligible for funding

• Events in a broader range of arts and culture disciplines are eligible, including events in music, dance, theater, literary arts, film & media arts, visual arts/design OR a combination across disciplines

• Select grantees will be identified to receive smaller grants that are renewable for a second year in 2024, with funding accompanied by added technical assistance for capacity building


Review Process and Timeline

• Chicago Presents will open an initial application window from November 17, 2022– December 15, 2022 for events occurring anytime in 2023.

• The application will reopen on a rolling basis in February 2023 for additional events in 2023

• Applications will be reviewed for eligibility and selected by an external panel of arts presenting experts who review each proposal’s alignment with the Chicago Presents program’s review criteria.

• A funding decision will be made approximately 6 weeks after an application is submitted, and funds will be disbursed up to 8 weeks after grant decisions


Eligibility Criteria

• Arts nonprofit organizations, community-based nonprofits, and for-profit cultural venues and businesses based in the City of Chicago with a valid street address are eligible to apply.

• Individuals are not eligible to apply.

• Applicants should demonstrate at least a three (3) year history of presenting public arts and culture, though this does not need to be consecutive.

• Organizations selected as grantees through the 2022 Neighborhood Access Program, 2022 Together We Heal Creative Place Program, or the 2022 CityArts project grant program are not eligible for a Chicago Presents grant supporting the same project. CityArts general operating grantees remain eligible for support through Chicago Presents.

• For proposed new events and/or events by emerging presenters, considerations regarding additional support for technical assistance will be taken into account when reviewed.


Program Requirements

• Proposed event must take place during calendar year 2023.

• Admission to the event must be free and open to the public, with no fees or suggested donations for entry.

• Activities supported by grant must have a primary focus on arts and culture (including music, dance, theater, literary arts, film & media arts, visual arts/design OR a combination across disciplines).

• Events must feature performances or works by at least two artists or creative groups and provide a live, in-person engagement opportunity for the public. Events that include at least one Chicago-based artist will receive priority.

• Event site must be confirmed.

• Event must occur within the city of Chicago.

• Event may be indoors or outdoors and must operate in full compliance with all current business, public health, and safety guidelines for public events in the City of Chicago. Presenter is responsible for obtaining all necessary additional permissions and licenses required for event.

• Presenters are required to provide for equipment and staffing appropriate for the type of arts activity, size of venue, and audience as applicable for event.

• Receptions, reunions, graduations, award functions, seminars or workshops, political events, or religious services are NOT eligible for this program.


Permit Considerations

• A Special Event Permit is not required in advance of applying to Chicago Presents.

• However, if you are recommended for a grant AND your event requires a Special Event Permit, you must submit required materials prior to receiving grant funds.

• If your event requires a Special Event Permit, you are strongly encouraged to apply for the permit as soon as it is available for your event year.


Review Criteria

The following criteria will be used to evaluate all Chicago Presents proposals. More details are available in the guideline packet:

• Quality and Feasibility of Proposed Program

• Potential Impact on Neighborhood/Community

• Potential Impact on Applicant

• Increasing Access/Growing Audiences