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.


  • 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.