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

With a primary focus on Chicago, supporting 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.

Strategy

Creative Organizations

Arts organizations of color function as important neighborhood anchors, sustain diverse artforms and cultural traditions, and provide key arts access points for diverse communities across Chicago.

Many of these organizations provide a vital platform for communities of color, including the next generation, to see themselves and their stories realized, providing key venues to engender a sense of social identification and cohesion. However, they have historically faced deep inequities in arts funding compared to their larger, white-led counterparts. The COVID-19 pandemic has exacerbated these inequities. This focus area seeks to support the recovery, long-term stability and resilience of arts organizations of color, helping expand their operational capacity, and fostering creative excellence.

Goal: To expand capacity, foster creative excellence, and support the long-term stability of small and mid-size arts organizations of color in Chicago.

Objectives:

  • Providing resilience grants or multi-year general operating grants to emerging and legacy arts organizations of color
    • This initiative aims to support the recovery, long-term sustainability and eventual growth of the sector by providing small and mid-size emerging and legacy arts organizations of color the flexibility to utilize the funds how they deem most effective. Multi-year general operating support will provide these organizations with the necessary runway to enable long-term planning.
  • Providing leadership grants to support core staff
    • This initiative will supplement the resilience grants or general operating grants by supporting core staff positions in arts organizations of color, targeted support we believe is essential to fostering the full vitality of arts organizations and the sector. Examples include full- or part-time staff positions across program and administrative functions, such as public engagement managers, fundraisers, arts administrators, curators, etc.
  • Supporting digital initiatives
    • This initiative will supplement the resilience grants or general operating grants by providing programmatic support and capacity building for organizations of color to help pilot and expand virtual programming, strengthen digital infrastructure, test new business models, increase accessibility, and establish network learning around best digital practice in the field. Funds can support an existing effort or be used as part of a larger effort that has funding from several sources.

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 Individuals

Artists and creative workers remain among the most severely affected segmented of the nation’s workforce due to COVID-19. In Illinois, the unemployment rate in 2020 for artists of color (66%) exceeded the rate among white artists (52%). Moreover, while funders over the last decade have sought to address the lack of cultural diversity at major arts institutions, the contributions and voices of artists of color across mainstream institutions are still vastly underrepresented. This focus area seeks to support a diverse range of organizations working to nurture the creative accomplishments, professional growth, and visibility of artists of color working in Chicago and the Great Lakes region.

Goal: To support the artistic growth, creative accomplishments and professional development for artists of color to raise visibility of their work on regional and national levels and to heighten recognition of their contributions to the field at large.

  • Supporting artistic production
    • This initiative will target individuals working in Chicago as well as the rest of the Great Lakes region. Recognizing the opportunity to deepen and expand the impact of the Joyce Awards, we have increased the number of annual $75,000 Joyce Awards to six. In addition, we will establish and sustain a Joyce Award alumni network for artists and organizations to promote knowledge exchange and networking.
    • Beyond the Joyce Awards, this initiative will fund projects at diverse presenting institutions and organizations commissioning or featuring artistically rigorous and challenging cultural work and productions by artist of color. This includes grants for new exhibitions, performances, presentations, and publications/catalogues. This initiative recognizes that artists must navigate a spectrum of institutional contexts to build and sustain their careers and raise visibility and build audiences for their work. We will also support publications and other forms of documentation, such as exhibition catalogues by artists of color because they serve as important historical records and raise awareness about an artist and their work.
  • Supporting networking and professional development
    • This initiative will increase networking and professional development opportunities for Chicago artists of color, including artist residencies, fellowships, workshops, career development, and skills training to help individuals advance their careers, build professional networks, and raise visibility for their work.
  • Supporting arts journalism
    • Through the Joyce Foundation’s Journalism program area, this initiative seeks touplift artists and arts organizations of color, through meaningful arts and culture journalism in Chicago and the Great Lakes region. This initiative welcomes proposals that seek to (a) expand the body of arts journalism and criticism, centering the work of artists of color or (b) supporting early-career development and pipelines for art journalists and critics of color.

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.

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 in 2003, the competition has awarded more than $3.7 million to commission 72 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 six and will launch a Joyce Award alumni network for artists and organizations to promote knowledge sharing and network.

Letters of Inquiry (LOIs) for the 2022 Joyce Awards will be accepted until Monday, September 13, 2021. Registration for new organizational applicants is due one week prior, by September 6, 2021.

Recently in Culture

Grantee Spotlight

Pivoting to a reimagined stage

The Chicago Black Dance Legacy Project adapts and endures, rethinking performance space and how to reach audiences and students through a pandemic.

Webinar

A conversation with 2021 Joyce Award recipients

2021 Joyce Awards winners together for the first time discuss their projects– four impactful collaborations spanning the visual, performing, and multidisciplinary arts that engage diverse communities in Chicago, Cleveland, and Milwaukee.

Joyce Award Winner

Sydney Chatman with Congo Square Theatre

2021 Joyce Awards: Congo Square Theatre will partner with director, educator, and writer Sydney Chatman to develop a new community-based theatrical work exploring the journey of healing from intracommunal and statesanctioned violence.

News

2021 Joyce Awards Announcement

Announcing the winners of the 2021 Joyce Awards! Four impactful collaborations between BIPOC artists and organizations spanning the visual, performing, and multidisciplinary arts that engage diverse communities in Chicago, Cleveland, and Milwaukee.

Culture Staff

Mia Khimm

Program Director

Jory Simmons

Assistant to the Vice President of Programs and Strategy; Program Assistant