Program Mission

Inspiring creativity and fostering culturally vibrant, diverse, and sustainable communities

With a primary focus on Chicago, the Culture program supports the development, growth, and visibility of artists of color and arts organizations of color to advance racial equity and inspire creativity.

Arts organizations of color are central to sustaining culturally vibrant and diverse communities. As vital neighborhood assets, they provide gateways for long-term arts participation, help sustain diverse art forms and traditions, and nurture the voices and talents of artists of color. Yet the arts and cultural sector is facing unprecedented challenges exacerbated by the pandemic, which has disproportionately impacted artists of color and arts organizations of color. The Joyce Foundation aims to address these racial inequities and help the sector recover and build long-term stability and resilience to make Chicago a robust center where artists of color and organizations of color can thrive for years to come.

We define arts organizations of color as organizations whose primary practices and mission are by, for, and about artists, cultures, and communities of color. Indicators may include but are not limited to the presence of some combination of: organizational mission; executive, artistic, and governance leadership; programmatic content; artists; and audience.


Creative Organizations

Small and mid-size arts organizations of color are vital to strong communities as well as to a strong arts ecosystem in Chicago and the wider great Lakes region. They act as important community anchors, uplifting creativity in communities; supporting a range of rich cultural expressions; and nurturing the voices and talents of artists of color.

As the arts sector continues to recover from the challenges exacerbated by the pandemic and the impact of decades of inequities in arts funding, the Culture program aims to support the recovery, long-term sustainability, and growth of organizations of color by offering Resilience grants, or multi-year general operating support grants. Our goal is to provide organizations with flexibility and runway to address their specific needs and goals.

The Foundation funds arts organizations rooted in communities of color whose work, missions, audience, and operations may demonstrate, but are limited to, some the following characteristics (in no particular order):

  • Offers regular seasons or cycles of engaging, rigorous, and thought-provoking arts exhibitions, performances, and/or public programming
  • Nurtures artistic production among/within communities of color
  • Incorporates the voices, concerns, and needs of artists of color and communities of color into their programming, leadership, and decision-making
  • Pursues and sustains a robust network of partnerships or relationships with other organizations or entities across the arts ecosystem
  • Is at pivotal stage or phase in their organizational trajectory or growth
  • Can articulate (a) pathway(s) towards sustainability
  • Demonstrates a commitment to pay equity for artists of color
  • As of April 2023, the Culture Program’s previous dedicated digital initiatives and staffing support will be incorporated into flexible, general operating dollars. By doing so, we will invest in fewer grants at higher levels and for longer term to drive impact with these groups.

Creative Individuals

Through the Creative Individuals focus area, the Joyce Foundation supports organizations that commission or feature artistically rigorous and challenging cultural work and productions by artists of color and offer professional development to support the their growth and heighten recognition of their contributions to the city, region, and field at large. We accomplish this by offering three types of grants:

  1. Professional Development grants that support opportunities including residencies, fellowships, education, and mentorship to enable early and mid-career artists of color to advance their careers, strengthen professional networks, and raise visibility for their work.
  2. Artistic Production grants to organizations for new exhibitions, performances, or publications centering an artist(s) of color, including our annual $100,000 Joyce Awards.

2022 Joyce Awards Announcement

The 2022 Joyce Awards mark the largest amount awarded to date and feature projects that uplift local histories and cultural traditions, deepen our understanding of immigrant experiences, and strengthen community pride across the Great Lakes.

About the Joyce Awards

The Joyce Awards, the only regional program supporting artists of color in major Great Lakes cities, aims to inspire creativity, artistic excellence, and collaboration in Great Lakes communities.

Since its inception, the competition has awarded more than $4 million to commission 77 new works and collaborations between artists and leading arts, cultural, and community-based organizations in Chicago, Cleveland, Detroit, Indianapolis, Milwaukee and Minneapolis-St. Paul. Each award of $75,000 supports an artist or artists in the creation and production of a new work and provides the commissioning organization with the resources needed to engage potential audiences, new partners, and their surrounding communities at large.

In 2022, the Foundation will increase the total number of annual $75,000 Joyce Awards to five and will launch a Joyce Award alumni network for artists and organizations to promote knowledge sharing and network.

Applications for the 2023 Joyce Awards will be open on July 5, 2022. Letters of Inquiry (LOIs) will be accepted until Monday, September 12, 2022. Registration for new organizational applicants is due one week prior, by September 7, 2022.

Recently in Culture


Joyce Awards Information Session

Culture director Mia Khimm and grants manager Lynne Wiora discuss the Joyce Awards program and the application process. LOIs are due on September 12, 2022. New applicants should create accounts by September 7, 2022.

Joyce Award Winner

Pramila Vasudevan with Public Art Saint Paul

Pramila Vasudevan and Public Art Saint Paul are one of the five winners of the 2022 Joyce Awards, which honor collaborations between artists of color and arts and community organizations throughout the Great Lakes region.

Joyce Award Winner

Aram Han Sifuentes with HANA Center

Aram Han Sifuentes and the HANA Center are one of the five winners of the 2022 Joyce Awards, which honor collaborations between artists of color and arts and community organizations throughout the Great Lakes region.

Joyce Award Winner

Michael Manson with Living Arts

Michael Manson and Living Arts are one of the five winners of the 2022 Joyce Awards, which honor collaborations between artists of color and arts and community organizations throughout the Great Lakes region.

Get the latest on our work in Culture and other programs.

Culture Staff

Mia Khimm

Program Director

Maddie Easton

Program Assistant