Culture Guidelines

The description below explains the Joyce Foundation Culture Program’s approach to our work as part of our 2021-2025 strategy. If you have any questions about whether your work fits within the strategy or other questions about applying for a culture grant from the Joyce Foundation, please contact [email protected].

** Please note that because the Foundation is committed to making long-term investments, we award a very limited number of new grants each year.


The Foundation believes that art and culture are key to well-being and quality of life for people in the Great Lakes region, helping to create healthy, vibrant, and equitable communities. The Foundation also believes that arts ecosystems should serve the full diversity of the region’s cities and thus focuses on supporting historically underrepresented artists and organizations – including organizations led by and serving communities of color – so that they have resources to build sustainability and thrive.

With a focus on Chicago, the mission of the Culture Program is to support the development, growth, and visibility of underrepresented artists and arts organizations, which may advance racial equity, inspire creativity, and foster more culturally vibrant, diverse, and sustainable communities.


Creative Organizations & Creative Individuals

Arts organizations and artists are vital to strong communities and contribute to a vibrant arts ecosystem in Chicago and the Great Lakes region. They can act as important community anchors and economic drivers, support diverse artistic expressions and traditions, and nurture the voices, careers, and visibility of artists who have been historically underfunded.

The Culture program aims to support the growth and sustainability of these arts organizations and the artists they present and serve by providing multi-year general operating grants and project grants. Organizations funded by our work demonstrate many of the following characteristics. They:

  • offer robust seasons of professional, thought-provoking exhibitions, performances, and programming in the visual, performing, and multi-disciplinary arts;
  • pursue innovative and strategic approaches to artistic and organizational growth and sustainability;
  • are grounded in the voices, concerns, and artistic visions of historically underrepresented and underfunded artists and communities;
  • are directly and effectively responsive to the needs and the advancement of underrepresented artists; and
  • have built a strong network of arts organizational partners, including community partners.

Our funding also includes professional development grants for artistic residencies, fellowships, awards, and programs supporting early and mid-career underrepresented artists, including artists of color, to advance their careers, strengthen professional networks, and raise visibility for their work. In addition, we provide a limited number of grants to support the development and presentation of new, innovative, and large-scale artistic commissions, exhibitions, and performances, including our annual Joyce Awards.


Do you fund initiatives outside of Chicago?

The large majority of our Culture Program funding supports arts organizations located within the City of Chicago. The exception to this is the Joyce Awards where, in addition to Chicago, we have funded arts and community organizations who are based and whose work engages communities in the following Great Lakes cities: Cleveland, Detroit, Indianapolis, Milwaukee, Minneapolis-St. Paul.

What kinds of media/genres do you fund?
We value arts organizations and artistic practices across all disciplines, traditions, and genres but our funding has historically focused on supporting projects and organizations spanning the visual, performing, and multi-disciplinary arts.

Do you provide general operating support, or must we apply for specific project funds?
In some cases, the Foundation provides general operating support to Chicago-based arts organizations. In other cases, we provide project grants for specific artistic productions or professional development efforts.

Do you fund arts education programs?
No, we do not support school based or K-12 curricular arts education. However, we may consider general operating support to arts organizations whose work may include, but is not limited to, providing high quality, community-based arts instruction to adults and families.

Do you fund capital development projects?
We generally do not make grants for capital campaigns.

What kinds of costs are eligible for funding under artistic production grants?
Funds can be used towards costs including, but not limited to, compensation of staff time, production costs, materials, artists stipends, community and partner compensation, documentation, and other expenses.