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.