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2018 CityArts Program

Grants to Chicago, Illinois Arts and Cultural
Nonprofits for Projects and General Operations

Agency Type:


Funding Source:

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Chicago Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events (DCASE)

Conf. Date:


Deadline Date:

02/28/18 5:00 PM CST


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Grants to Chicago, Illinois nonprofit arts and cultural organizations to support general operations and specific projects. This program seeks to promote financial stability and artistic excellence within Chicago’s cultural sector. This program emphasizes community engagement, collaboration, innovation, and diversity.

Through this program, DCASE provides one-year general operating grants. This year arts and culture organizations of all sizes may apply for general operating grants through the CityArts Program.

New in 2018, the CityArts program will also make project grants with a goal to incentivize innovation related to city-wide priorities. Each year, DCASE plans to select a specific theme to create focus to its programming and a driven energy towards a shared goal among Chicago’s arts community. 2018 Project Grants will focus on this year’s theme – the Year of Creative Youth.

All grant types are intended to further four Cultural Grants Program Priorities: Innovation, Community Engagement, Diversity & Equity, and Collaboration.

In 2018, the CityArts Program will offer three types of grants:

1) General Operating Grants for Large Arts & Culture Organizations - For organizations with an annual adjusted income over $2M

DCASE will provide General Operating Grants to Chicago’s major cultural institutions (budgets over $2M) that are evaluated to be doing exemplary work related to four Cultural Grants Program priorities:

Priority 1 - Innovation: DCASE defines innovation as a project, product, process, creation, collaboration, initiative or program component that is NEW or drastically reimagined, leading to developments including: new artistic forms or formats, new methods of delivering art, presenting art in new/unexpected physical locations, replicable models for artistic development or programming, and much more. DCASE is looking to support organizations doing work that seeks to challenge, change, improve or shift current products, practices, processes or paradigms by testing or utilizing novel concepts, approaches, or tools to fill local gaps and bring new ideas into the arts and culture field.

Priority 2 - Community Engagement: DCASE defines Community Engagement as artistic or educational programming/activities that encourage partnerships with multiple touch points among individuals and entities to identify and achieve shared goals and objectives. In alignment with Cultural Plan-related goals to elevate and expand neighborhood cultural assets, DCASE is looking to support organizations that work to address local needs through deep interaction with Chicago residents and specific communities, to increase creative access, awareness and appreciation in every neighborhood.

Priority 3 - Diversity & Equity: One of the core values of DCASE is Diversity & Equity. DCASE believes in the power of the arts to build community, inspire social change and bring fresh perspective to difficult and complex issues—including issues of race, ethnicity, class, gender identity and sexual orientation. DCASE is looking to support organizations demonstrating clear commitment to this priority that is evidenced in their artistic work, strategic planning, artists, staff and audience.

Priority 4 – Collaboration: As another core value of DCASE, DCASE’s view collaboration as the backbone needed for long-term impact and citywide transformation. DCASE is looking to support organizations striving towards unique collaborations across disciplines, sizes, and sectors and in alignment with Cultural Plan-related goals to encourage cultural and non-cultural sectors to work together.

Successful applicants will demonstrate exceptional work across all four of these priorities.
General operating support funds may be used for artistic, administrative and/or program activities including expenses such as salaries, marketing, insurance, supplies, professional services, fees and training.

2) General Operating Grants for Small Arts & Culture Organizations - For organizations with an annual adjusted income under $2M

All applicants must choose ONE Funding Category within which to apply for a general operating grant, even if the applicant’s mission, programs and work falls within or across multiple Funding Categories. The Funding Categories are intended to be outcome-based; choose the one outcome most relevant for your organization’s work. Think about the primary purpose of your organization’s current programs, work, strategic plan recommendations and/or goals and the results your organization expects to achieve during 2018.

1. Make, Create, Produce, Present Art: Includes organizations producing or creating art and presenting organizations providing facilities, space, performance or exhibition opportunities for Chicago’s arts and culture community.

Priority will be given to organizations that are:
-Seeking to reach broad and diverse audiences across the City.
-Increasing access to the arts.
-Making new work or significantly changing existing work (including bringing existing work to new
audiences in new ways).

2. Provide High-Quality Arts Education Opportunities:

Includes organizations that are:
-Offering meaningful, consistent opportunities to increase underserved youth’s access to Chicago’s arts and culture resources.
-Serving as a bridge between arts and cultural resources and Chicago youth of all ages.
-Creating opportunities for youth to engage with the arts for the purposes of: providing exposure to the arts, developing connections to communities, broadening learning, and positively impacting social-emotional development.

3. Elevate Cultural Assets:

Includes organizations that are:
-Seeking to expose Chicagoans to one or more specific cultural heritage(s), resources, or art forms.
-Serving as museums or art centers that are open to the general public, have professional art exhibitions and make consistent efforts to build audiences.
-Archiving or documenting cultural resources.

4. Support Capacity Building for the Sector:

Includes organization that are:
-Providing a coordinating, convening, and supporting function for the larger Chicago arts and culture community, helping organizations and artists to build artistic and administrative capacity.

5. Engage Communities:

Includes organizations that are:
-Elevating and expanding neighborhood cultural assets, especially by linking neighborhoods to one another and to downtown.
-Growing neighborhood cultural capacity and celebrating community.
-Providing large-scale public events such as festivals or park-based performances for the residents of the City of Chicago.

General operating support funds may be used for artistic, administrative and/or program activities including expenses such as salaries, marketing, insurance, supplies, professional services, fees and training.

Foster Innovation: In previous years, DCASE also offered CityArts grants through the Foster Innovation category. This category was intended for organizations that would be experiencing a significant milestone during the grant period. These grants were $15,000 regardless of organizational budget size. DCASE will no longer be accepting applications through this Foster Innovation category, but will instead select 3 – 6 exceptional applicants to receive special $15,000 grant awards in 2018.

3) Project Grants for Small Arts & Culture Organizations - For organizations with an annual adjusted income under $2M

In 2018, CityArts Project Grants will support projects in alignment with the City of Chicago’s Year of Creative Youth.

In alignment with the belief that there are no limits to the impact DCASE can have on Chicago’s cultural community, each year DCASE will strive to unite arts organizations across one priority that it believes deserves focused attention. In conjunction with this effort, the CityArts program will award grants in support of projects in alignment with this targeted priority.

2018 CityArts Project Grants will focus on a specific theme – the City of Chicago’s Year of Creative Youth. Through this initiative, DCASE will shine a spotlight on the young artists in the City, and the organizations and educators that support and inspire them, celebrating the creative spirit of the next generation as an essential part of Chicago’s cultural life. DCASE invites you to be a part of this celebration by sharing exciting projects or programming related to creative youth that your organization could launch, enhance, expand, and/or elevate in 2018, with the support of DCASE.

For the purposes of this grant program, DCASE is defining youth broadly, and encourage projects that support K – 12 participants as well young adults emerging as artists.

Eligible organizations are able to apply for both a General Operating grant AND a Project Grant in 2018 using one application form. However, only a handful of the most exceptional applications will receive both grant types.

To calculate your organization’s annual adjusted income, subtract the total amount of government contributions received during the previous fiscal year (this includes federal, state, and municipal/city contributions) from your organization’s total income for that year. Note that in-kind contributions should not be included in this calculation.

GrantWatch ID#:

GrantWatch ID#: 140270

Number of Grants:

DCASE anticipates awarding: between 5-10 General Operating Grant to Large Arts & Culture Organizations; and 8-40 Project Grants. The number of General Operating Grants for Small Arts & Culture Organizations will be contingent on the number of applications and available budget. DCASE will select 3-6 exceptional applications to receive a special Foster Innovation grant.

Estimated Size of Grant:

General Operating Grants for Large Arts & Culture Organizations:
Grant amounts ranging from $25,000 - $50,000 will be determined based on budget sizes and the strength of the applications.

General Operating Grants for Small Arts & Culture Organizations:
This program will accept requests between $2,000 and $15,000. DCASE will not provide a general operating grant that is greater than 10% of an organization’s annual adjusted income from its most recently completed fiscal year (FY17) UNLESS the organization’s budget is less than $20,000. Grantees with budgets less than $20,000 will receive a $2,000 grant. DCASE may award larger or smaller grants than those requested by applicants based on the available budget and the strength of the application.

Foster Innovation:
These grants will be $15,000 regardless of organizational budget size.

Project Grants:
Grants will range from $5,000 - $25,000.

Term of Contract:

If awarded, all grant funds must be expended by the grantee between January 1, 2018 and December 31, 2018. Grantees are likely to receive payment in August of 2018, but can use the funds to reimburse the organization for expenses incurred earlier in 2018.

Organizations may receive operating support funding for up to three years in a row before being required to take a year off from funding.

Additional Eligibility Criteria:

Organizations must:
-Have a primary mission to create, produce, present, provide, or support arts and culture services for the public.
-Work in one of the following disciplines: Architecture, Curatorial Arts/Museums, Dance, Design (includes Fashion, Industrial, and Costume), Interdisciplinary, Literary Arts, Media Arts and Film, Music, Performance Art, Photography, Public Art, Theater, Visual Arts OR serve as an arts service organization.
-Be a nonprofit, 501(c)3 organization incorporated in the State of Illinois for at least 12 months prior to applying (must have been incorporated as of January 1, 2017).
-Be a resident company in the city of Chicago with a valid street address (P.O. Boxes will not be accepted).
-Primarily serve the residents of the City of Chicago (demonstrate that, on average, half of all programming occurs within the City of Chicago limits).
-Be planning programing/activities open and available to the public during the 2018 calendar year.
-Special eligibility criteria for general operating grants only: Organizations must not be receiving other significant support (cash or In Kind) from the City of Chicago or a City of Chicago Delegate Agency. Significant support is defined as more than $1M within the calendar year towards an organization’s annual budget.

DCASE is unable to pay grant funds to any organization with outstanding, existing debt with the City of Chicago. Please pay off or clear up any debt (parking tickets, water bills, etc.) prior to applying for a CityArts grant.

CASE CityArts funds cannot be used to support:
-Organizations with primary office addresses located outside of the city of Chicago.
-Organizations applying using a fiscal agent.
-Organizations applying on behalf of an organization/program for which they serve as a fiscalagent or fiscal sponsor.
-Social service organizations.
-For-profit organizations.
-Religious institutions.
-Public or governmental agencies.
-Schools or school districts.
-Athletic teams, social organizations, fraternal organizations.
-Consortiums and collaboratives.
-2016 or 2017 CityArts Grantees that have not completed the required Final Report for their funded project.
-DCASE can only accept one application per 501(c)3 through this program. If your organization is affiliated with a university and does not have its own 501(c)3, either your affiliate organization OR the university can apply, under the grant type appropriate for the applicant organization’s budget size. If the affiliate organization is applying, a statement of commitment must be supplied by the university.

Pre-proposal Conference:

Applicants are invited to attend an application assistance workshop where staff will provide details on eligibility and application processes.

Workshops are scheduled for January 31, February 1, February 5, and February 8.

Pre-Application Information:

-Application Assistance Workshops: January 23, 31, February 1, 5, 8
-Application Opens: January 15, 2018, 9:00 AM CST
-Application Deadline: February 28, 2017, 5:00 PM CST
-Notification of Results: May 2018
-Contracting Period: May - July 2018
-Payments Disbursed: August 2018
-Final Reports Due: January 31, 2019

Contact Information:

Before starting your grant application, please review the funding source's website listed below for updates/changes/addendums/conferences/LOIs.

Register to attend a workshop:

Application for organizations with an annual adjusted income budget under $2M:

Application for organizations with an annual adjusted income budget over $2M:

Kalena Chevalier, Program Director

Julie Partynski, Grants Administrator

URL for Full Text (RFP):

Geographic Focus:

USA: Illinois: Chicago