Chicago Presents

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A new program to support cultural programs that help Chicago neighborhoods rebuild, unify, and heal from the COVID-19 pandemic.

The arts and culture sector are a significant employer and economic driver in the City of Chicago, generating billions in revenue and supporting thousands of jobs, but the pandemic has put unprecedented strain on the City’s cultural businesses, artists and organizations.

To thrive post-pandemic, the City of Chicago will leverage the power of its arts and culture sector to rebuild and heal neighborhoods by expanding access, employing creatives, and increasing direct support through the Arts77: Arts Recovery Plan.

Part of Arts77, the Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events (DCASE) will launch Chicago Presents, a new funding program to support cultural presenters deliver, safe neighborhood programs that comply with public health guidelines in neighborhoods throughout Chicago in Summer 2021.

Emerging and established cultural presenters are invited to submit proposals for free live, in-person concerts and events, spanning across all genre’s music, performance and dance that activate Chicago’s streets, plazas and parks.

Through Chicago Presents, DCASE will provide funding and support to applicants, with financial award amounts ranging from $5,000 - $30,000 to present individual events or event series in neighborhoods. DCASE anticipates giving out 50-100 grants through this program

There are three options for presenters to engage with Chicago Presents:

  • Option 1: Direct Funding Request: Presenters can submit event proposals to receive funding for to produce live cultural programs to cover direct costs for the event.


  • Option 2: Band Request: Presenters/promoters can also select up to three solo musicians and/or bands in total from the Chicago Band Roster to play at the proposed program or series of three events. It will be the responsibility of the Presenter to communicate and negotiate event and production details with the artist. DCASE will cover payment of artistic fees based on pre-established rates.


*Option 3 Hydbrid: Direct Funding Request and include up to three acts from the Chicago Band Roster in which you can apply for direct funding and select artists from the Band Roster. The overall budget requests can not exceed $30,00 in total value and will include the previously negotiated terms with the artists. For the budget you submit-do not include the Chicago Band Artists as an expense line.

Programs supported through this program will be additionally promoted as part of the Year of Chicago Music (YOCM), which aims to place a spotlight on Chicago’s music landscape – one of the most influential and dynamic musical sectors on the globe.


Applicant Eligibility

  • Arts organizations, community-based non-profits, and for-profit cultural venues based in the City of Chicago are eligible to apply.
  • Individuals are not eligible to apply.
  • Presenters must have at least a (2) year history of presenting public programming. Does not have to be consecutive.
  • Presenters/promoters must be able to obtain the necessary licenses, permits and insurances necessary to deliver the event.


Program Requirements

  • Admission to the event must be free and open to the general public.
  • Programs must occur outdoors, including but not limited to plazas, parks, community gardens and vacant lots. Proposals for indoor programs will be considered on a case by case basis adhering to CDC guidelines when the event occurs.
  • Programs must occur within the City of Chicago.
  • Special consideration will be given to events in the Invest South West neighborhoods: Auburn Gresham, North Lawndale, Austin, Englewood, Humboldt Park, Bronzeville, New City, Roseland/Pullman, South Chicago and South Shore.
  • All programs must take place between July 1 – October 31, 2021
  • Receptions, reunions, graduations, award functions, seminars or workshops, political events, or religious services are not eligible for this program.


Funding and Permit Requirements

Funds granted through the Chicago Presents program can be used to cover all costs associated with delivery the program including all artist fees, production, labor, permitting, and insurances. Funds will be distributed in the following amounts:

  • 75% of awarded funded amount will be dispersed in advance of the event.
  • 15% of the awarded funded amount will be dispersed post event upon completion of the final report.

Presenters will be required to provide sound and technical equipment appropriate for the type of performance, size of the venue and audience.

The Chicago Presents Grant Application requires a Special Event Permit through the DCASE Permit Office or the Chicago Park District, for outdoor events. For grant recipients, the DCASE Special Event Permit processing fee will be waived, other City fees will still apply (outdoor food vendor permit, pop-up retail license, outdoor liquor license, etc.)

Programs should be developed in accordance with the current public health and safety guidelines. If guidelines are changed prior to the event occurring, Presenter may adjust their program plans and resubmit their application for review by the DCASE Special Event permit office within a month of the event. No additional funds will be granted for changes in event size, scale or scope.

Apply Online

Guidelines for Special Events

At the conclusion of the event, Presenters will be required submit a brief final report and proper crediting of the Chicago Presents program and the City of Chicago on announcement, digital and printed materials.

Payment will be delivered in two payments, start of the event and after successful completion of the event, and delivery of the final report.


Selection Criteria

  • Ability of presenter to deliver a successful program, through history of successful event producing and audience building.
  • Ability of program to support or enhance other community development or development priorities.
  • Geographic distribution of funds and programs throughout the City, in particular the south and west sides.


Submission Requirements

You will need the following information to apply for the Chicago Presents program.

  • General Applicant/Organizational Information: General information about your organization including primary contact information.
  • General Program Information: Provide information about your proposed event, including the address, date(s), time(s), and anticipated audience. You will also need to identify the Alderman, Ward and Police District where your event(s) will be located.
  • Presenting History: List your presenting history delivering similar programs. Highlighted programs should demonstrate a two-year history, but does not need to be consecutive.
  • Program Description: Your event title, and a description of the event and it’s community benefit
    • Will your event require a street closure ? (Y/N)
    • Will your event have food ? (Y/N)
    • Will you be selling alcohol at your event ? (Y/N)
    • Will you be selling merchandise or other crafts? (Y/N)
    • Will you be erecting tents and/ or stages for the event ? (Y/N)
  • Artist Information: List the artists that will be performing at your event. If you are requesting an artist from the Chicago Band Roster, please list your 1st, 2nd and 3rd choices. Selected programs will be allowed up to acts per event, not to exceed three acts over an entire event series.
  • Production Information: Include information about the equipment that will be provided for successful production of the event. The equipment provided by your organization should be appropriate for the type of performance.
  • Community Outreach Plan: Describe how your event will be promoted. Include information about how the businesses and residents that are directly impacted by your event will be notified.
  • Public Health: Please describe your plans to ensure that your program can be delivered with the public safety guidelines. Please refer to the guidelines when answering this question.
  • Site Plan: Provide a site plan of your event that identifies the following, if applicable:
    • Location of food vendors (FV)
    • Location of beverage vendors both non-alcoholic (NAB) and alcoholic beverages (AB) along with number of serving stations at each location
    • Location of toilets (T)
    • Location of hand washing sinks (HWS)
    • Location of retail merchants (RM)
    • Location of First Aid (+)
    • Location of garbage receptacles (G) and recycling receptacles (R)
    • Location and number of Type III Barricades (III)
    • Location of fire lane (FL)
    • Location of fire extinguishers (FE)
    • Public entrances and exits
    • Location of sound stages and amplified sound
    • Location of residential streets surrounding event
  • Budget: An itemized budget of program costs including artist fees, marketing/promotion, insurance, permits, supplies and materials, publications, distribution, access accommodations such as sign language interpretation, travel, shipping, venue rental, and equipment.



  • April 21, 2021: Applications Opens for public programming occurring July 1, 2021 – August 14, 2021.
  • Friday, May 7, 2021: Application closed for July 1st-August 14, 2021 Programs. Selected applicants will be notified in June 2021.
  • Monday, May 17, 2021: Applications Opens for public programming occurring August 15, 2021 – October 31, 2021.
  • Tuesday, June 8, 2021 at 5pm: Selected applicants will be notified. Application Deadline for August 15th-October 31, 2021 Programs. Selected applicants will be notified in July 2021

For additional questions about Chicago Presents please contact Mariam Thiam, Program Director Performing Arts at