City of Chicago Awards Individual Artists Program Grants

April 3, 2020

13 Esteemed Artists Receive $10,000 Grants, in Addition to 158 Annual Project Grants of $850 to $5,000 for Chicago-based artists

Christine Carrino

Jamey Lundblad


Mayor Lori E. Lightfoot and the Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events are pleased to announce the recipients of the 2020 Individual Artists Program grants. Each year, the Individual Artists Program supports Chicago's practicing artists in creating work that develops their craft and elevates their careers while adding to the cultural vitality of the city of Chicago. This year, 158 project-based grants between $850 to $5,000 will be awarded to resident Chicago artists over the age of 18 across all artistic disciplines including film & media arts, literary arts, performing arts (theatre/dance), music and visual arts/design.

In addition to the Individual Artists Program grants, 13 high-qualified artists will receive the Esteem Artist Award, a special new $10,000 grant for expenses associated with an artist’s practice within the 2020 grant period, including studio rental, supplies, travel and equipment. In celebration of 2020 as the Year of Chicago Music, half of the Esteemed Artist Awards are going to local musicians – Deleatric (Dee) Alexander, Carlos Barahona, Katherine Davis, Steve Dawson, Mabel Kwan, Michael Reed and Larry Taylor. Award recipients in other disciplines are Jason Howard (Performing Arts), Sandra Jackson-Opoku (Literary Arts), Ruth Leitman (Film & Media Arts), Fawzia Mirza (Film & Media Arts), Leticia Pardo (Visual Arts/Design) and Sadie Woods (Visual Arts/Design).

“Chicago’s voice is heard around the world through the creativity, innovation, and vision of incredible artists in every one of our 77 neighborhoods,” said Mayor Lightfoot. “From the art they make and culture they create, our artists bring joy to our lives, drive our economy, hold the mirror to our faces, and, of course, they produce works of exquisite beauty. And I am proud of the support these grants will provide these incredible individuals, particularly during this time of crisis and hardship within our artistic community.

This year, Mayor Lightfoot increased the City of Chicago’s 2020 funding for cultural grants by $1 million, fulfilling a commitment to prioritize equitable grantmaking and microfinancing to individual artists, organizations and arts corridors throughout Chicago — particularly in communities of need. This new investment increases the Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events (DCASE) Cultural Grants Program budget by 59% from $1.7 million to $2.7 million.

“These grants celebrate our vibrant cultural community and continue our work to further improve access to the arts in every neighborhood throughout Chicago,” said DCASE Commissioner Mark Kelly. “Mayor Lightfoot’s increased cultural grants funding will ensure that more local arts and community organizations have an opportunity to advance their missions, engaging residents and visitors alike.”  

The DCASE Individual Artists Program is partially supported by a grant from the Illinois Arts Council Agency, through federal funds provided by the National Endowment for the Arts.

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 and to apply, please visit

The Individual Arts Program and the new Esteem Artists Awards are part of the overall commitment of Chicago and DCASE to the City's diverse and vibrant arts and cultural community. Recently, the City and DCASE announced a partnership with the State of Illinois and the broader philanthropic community to provide financial relief to workers and organizations in the creative industries impacted by COVID-19. The Arts for Illinois Relief Fund is administered by Arts Alliance Illinois in partnership with 3Arts and Arts Work Fund, long-standing and trusted service organizations and grantmakers. Donate or apply at

2020 Esteemed Artist Awards

Deleatrice (Dee) Alexander – Music

Carlos Barahona – Music

Katherine Davis – Music

Steve Dawson – Music

Mabel Kwan – Music

Michael Reed – Music

Larry Taylor – Music

Jason Howard – Performing Arts (Theatre/Dance)

Sandra Jackson-Opoku – Literary Arts

Ruth Leitman – Film & Media Arts

Fawzia Mirza – Film & Media Arts

Leticia Pardo – Visual Arts/Design

Sadie Woods – Visual Arts/Design

2020 Individual Artists Program Project Grant Recipients

Ruben Aguirre Melissa Hernandez Michael Paulucci
Andrea Alberti Diana Hinojosa Ethan Philion
Michael Allemana Sean Hussey Sam Pilnick
Alyssa Allgood Eleanor Hyde Carolina Posse
Max Asaf Adia Ivey Felicia Grant Preston
Claire Happel Ashe Kellyn Jackson Anuradha Rana
Petra Bachmaier  Rachel Jackson   B. Rich
Mara Baker Joshua Jackson Matthew Riggen
Wendy Mateo Keefe Jackson Diana Quiñones Rivera
Rebecca Baruc James Jankowiak Kathleen Rooney
Carlo Basile Katherine Jimoh Cristal Sabbagh
Hannah Batsel Brent Kado Chris Saint Martin
Leslie Baum Subhi Khanna Martie Sanders
Matthew Benson Ellie Kim (SuperKnova) Clinton Sandifer
Shiraz Bhatti Quinlan Kirchner Katrin Schnabl
Sharon Bladholm Christopher Knowlton Molly Shanahan
Olivia Block Jordan Kunkel KT Shivak
Clarissa Bonet Jenny Lam Aram Han
Beth Bradfish David Landsberger Jacob Slocum
Adam Brooks (Industry of the Ordinary) Rodrigo Lara Sylvia Smith
Ryan Burns Erin LaRocque Aya Smith
Aminata Burton Dustin Laurenzi Kia Smith
Michael Bussey Ashley Laverty Che Smith
William Cabaniss JeeYeun Lee Tria Smith
Steven Carrelli Evan Levine Kevin Sparrow
Yessenia Carreon Wen Liu Samantha Spencer
Jo Cattell Lydia Lucio Fyodor Sakhnovski
Anjal Chande Joseph Lyles Mai Sugimoto
Katie Chung Abigail Martin   Jeff Sweeton
Joseph Clark Mercedes Inez Martinez Stephanie Taiber
Ryan Cohan Kazuhiro Masuda Maria Torres
Kori Coleman Dexter Matthews Marcela Torres
Matthew Crowther Chad McCullough Daniel Valdez
Ivonne Cruz Maxx McGathey Erika Valenciana
Rachel Damon Harold Gonzalez Medina Vanessa Valliere 
Orbert Davis Christian Mejia Preeti Veerlapati
Sandra Delgado Michael Miles Marisol Velez
Binta Diallo Jessie Mott Linda Walker
Barbara Diener Ana Munteanu Kate Walsh
Jory Drew Nicole Murray Fo Wilson
Annette Elliot Carina Nieto LaQuita McNeal
Katie Ernst Victoria Noe Grace Wong
Tirtza Even Matthew Norris Ayanna Woods
Mary Fedorowski Nick Nummerdor Norman Yap
Aasha Francis Aaron O'Brien Nejla Yatkin
Joanna Furnans Alexandra Olsavsky Lauren Yeager
Thomas Gallagher Dana Omar Jay Alan Yim
Ariel Glassman Jameson Paige John Yost
Meredith Gleason Charleston Parham Destine Young
Niki Grangruth & James Kinser Marianne Parker Adam Zanolini
Corey Hall Victoria Parra Michael Zerang
Lilly Hanson Goli Parvinian Henry Zheng
Bruce Henry Katelyn Patton  


2020 Year of Chicago Music

Mayor Lori E. Lightfoot and the Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events (DCASE) have designated 2020 as the Year of Chicago Music. This citywide, year-long focus on music is one of the first of its kind in the U.S. The City of Chicago and its partners working with the local music industry will launch a marketing campaign for Chicago music; provide additional financial grants for musicians and music projects; encourage dialog around inclusion and equity; and call on civic, philanthropic, arts and business leaders to support the music industry. Recognizing that in response to the Coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak, the music industry has moved to #dostuffathome, DCASE is partnering with Do312 to highlight local music venues and musicians who are now sharing "Music in the Key of Chicago" on virtual platforms. Start exploring music in the key of Chicago at and join the conversation on social media using #YearofChicagoMusic and #ChicagoMusic.


Chicago Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events

The Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events (DCASE) is dedicated to enriching Chicago’s artistic vitality and cultural vibrancy. This includes fostering the development of Chicago’s non-profit arts sector, independent working artists and for-profit arts businesses; providing a framework to guide the City’s future cultural and economic growth, via the 2012 Chicago Cultural Plan; marketing the City’s cultural assets to a worldwide audience; and presenting high-quality, free and affordable cultural programs for residents and visitors. For more information, visit


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