Photo credit: League of Chicago Theatres.

Arts and Culture

The arts play an essential role in the cultural life of Chicago. They stimulate our imagination, challenge our perceptions, and encourage us to reflect on our distinct traditions and our shared humanity. The Driehaus Foundation supports work that sustains and advances Chicago’s arts infrastructure, helping enable creative endeavors to thrive.

The Foundation makes grants that cultivate a robust and diverse creative community through convening, collaboration, advocacy, technical assistance, knowledge sharing, and resource sharing. The primary focus is on arts service initiatives that provide specialized support designed to build the business acumen of Chicago’s arts ecosystem. The specific types of initiatives the Driehaus Foundation supports are ones that serve the art-making community but do not involve the production or presentation of art, and by-and-large serve arts organizations rather than individual artists.

In select instances, the Driehaus Foundation also supports programs and special projects that contribute to Chicago’s role as a cultural leader on a regional, national, or international scale.

  • Local arts service organizations – as defined above – with the primary mission of serving creative endeavors in the City of Chicago are eligible for general operating grants. 
  • Arts service programs – as defined above – focused exclusively on increasing the capacity or collective impact of nonprofit arts and culture organizations in Chicago may also be considered for funding. 
  • The Foundation also supports national convenings that are arts service in nature, build the management capacity of smaller nonprofit arts and culture organizations, including local groups, and for which Chicago is serving as the host city. (Eligible convenings align with all three of these points of interest.) 
  • In addition, the Foundation supports events and initiatives that are both uniquely Chicago in nature and elevate the city’s regional, national, or international profile as an arts and cultural leader.
  • Grants support the execution of fully-developed initiatives as opposed to those in the research and development phase, pre-production phase, or start-up phase.

The Arts and Culture funding program does not provide:

  • Funding for arts education, arts outreach, or community theater
  • Grants for exhibitions and film projects
  • General operating support for arts organizations whose primary mission is public performance or presentation (see immediately below for information about how the Foundation does support such endeavors)

In addition to the Arts and Culture program, the Driehaus Foundation partners with the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation to provide general operating support to cultural groups in Chicago with annual budgets up to $500,000. The guidelines for this separate funding program, the MacArthur Funds for Culture, Equity, and the Arts at the Richard H. Driehaus Foundation, are available here. In most cases, organizations that receive funding through the Driehaus Foundation’s own Arts and Culture program are not also eligible for support through the MacArthur-Driehaus partnership. Please review the guidelines for both programs to determine which is the best fit for your organization.

For more information, contact Suellen Burns, Senior Program Officer, at, or call (312) 641-5772 x3.

Updated December 2019