City of Chicago Awards $2 Million in CityArts Program Grants to Local Arts Organizations

August 12, 2020

DCASE awards 191 grants ranging from $2,000 to $56,200

Christine Carrino

Jamey Lundblad


CHICAGO, IL — Mayor Lori E. Lightfoot and the Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events (DCASE) are pleased to announce the recipients of the 2020 CityArts Program grants. Each year, the CityArts Program encourages Chicago-based, arts and culture-focused organizations of all sizes to attain artistic excellence and financial stability by making general operating grants across all artistic disciplines. This year, the 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.”

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

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

2020 Year of Chicago Music
Mayor Lori E. Lightfoot and the Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events (DCASE) have designated 2020 and 2021 as the Year of Chicago Music. This citywide focus on music is one of the first of its kind in the U.S. The City of Chicago and its partners are working with the local music industry to 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. In response to the Coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak, the music industry has moved away from live events to #dostuffathome. In support of the live music industry, DCASE has partnered with Do312 to highlight local music venues with musicians now sharing "Music in the Key of Chicago" on virtual platforms. Start exploring “Music in the Key of Chicago” at and 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


2020 CityArts Program Grant Recipients

3Arts, Inc.
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.
Clinard Dance
Collaboraction Theatre Company
Comfort Station
Community TV Network
Court Theatre Fund
Creative Chicago Reuse Exchange (CCRX)
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
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
KLEO Center
Kuumba Lynx
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
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
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
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
Walkabout Theater Company
Water People Theater
Wicker Park Choral Singers
Window to the World Communications
Working in Concert
Yin He Dance
Young Chicago Authors
Zephyr Dance Ensemble

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