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 arts are also an innovative force in catalyzing economic and social transformation in Chicago neighborhoods.
Yet the challenges of sustaining Chicago’s creative sector have always been complex—from the day-to-day struggles of running a business to the need many feel to choose between commercial success and creative independence. These challenges are compounded by newer though equally complex issues in the marketplace such as changing audience buying behaviors, declining press coverage, pay equity, and the urgency to better represent all Chicagoans—particularly those from historically marginalized communities—in the creative workforce.
The Driehaus Foundation supports the business side of the arts. We focus on funding work that sustains and advances Chicago’s arts infrastructure, helping enable creative endeavors to thrive. We make grants that cultivate a robust and diverse creative community through convening, collaboration, advocacy, technical assistance, and knowledge and resource sharing.
Our Arts and Culture program funds Chicago-based arts service initiatives (organization, program, or project). We define arts service as specialized support designed to build the business acumen, management capacity, and backbone structures of the arts ecosystem.
This type of support ranges from behind-the-scenes assistance such as management consultation, administrative training, and resource sharing to business models such as festivals and shared venues that provide exposure, revenue generating opportunities, and cost savings. The specific types of initiatives we support are ones that serve the art-making community but do not involve the development or production of creative work.
Please note: Grants for festivals and other shared creative platforms are limited to those which present work that has Chicago-specific roots. For example, jazz as a whole is ubiquitous and not unique to Chicago, but the style of free form improvisational jazz pioneered by the Association for the Advancement of Creative Musicians has uniquely Chicago origins.
The Driehaus Foundation offers single and multi-year grants for the arts service field. Grants support the execution of fully developed initiatives as opposed to those in the ideation phase.
- Category A: Arts service organizations – as defined above – with the
primary mission of building the capacity of creative endeavors in Chicago are
eligible for general operating grants.
- Such as: Chicago Cultural Alliance, Chicago Latino Theater Alliance, Lawyers for the Creative Arts
- Category B: Arts service programs and projects focused primarily on the
infrastructure, management, and administrative support needs of creative initiatives
are eligible for program/project grants.
- Space-related initiatives (for example, those that offer below-market-rate rehearsal, performance, or office space) must also include intentional, clearly defined, wraparound business support services such as cooperative marketing in order to be eligible.
- Such as: Chicago Black Dance Legacy Project, Ruth Page Foundation’s Subsidized Studio and Theater Rental Program
Category C: Chicago-based festivals and other shared creative platforms for the
public presentation of work are eligible for program/project grants if aligned
with all five of the following criteria:
- Shine a spotlight on the collective work of a subset of the Chicago cultural community
- Focus on an artform with Chicago-specific roots (see the “Please note” section above) rather than those that simply occur in Chicago or feature Chicago artists
- Elevate the city’s regional, national, or international profile as a nexus for creative opportunities and excellence
- Are led by a presenting entity which takes on the administration and financial responsibility of the initiative
- Have program/project budgets ranging from $30,000 to $1 million
- Such as: 2022 Chicago International Puppet Theater Festival, Newberry Library’s Indigenous Chicago project
- Please see here for more details about and examples of Category C eligibility.
- Category D: National and regional convenings are eligible for program/project
grants if aligned with all three of the following criteria:
- Are arts service in nature
- Build the management and administrative capacity of smaller arts and culture endeavors, including local groups
- Are held in Chicago
The Arts and Culture funding program is unable to provide support for:
- Pilot programs
- Film projects
- Arts education and arts learning
- Programming based outside the city of Chicago
- Development or production of creative work
- Presentation of creative work unless it meets our five specific eligibility requirements above for Category C