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The MacArthur Funds for Culture, Equity, and the Arts at the Richard H. Driehaus Foundation

Grants to Illinois Nonprofit Arts Organizations
in Eligible Locations for Operating Support

Agency Type:

Foundation / Corporation

Funding Source:

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The Richard H. Driehaus Foundation and John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation

Deadline Date:

05/03/21 6:00 PM CT - The January 19, 2021 deadline is for groups with actual expenses of under $150,000 (excluding in-kind support) in the most recently completed fiscal year. The May 3, 2021 deadline is for groups with actual expenses between $150,000 and $500,000 (excluding in-kind support) in the most recently completed fiscal year.


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Grants of up to $20,000 to Illinois small to mid-size arts and cultural nonprofit organizations in eligible areas for general operating expenses. Consideration will be given to organizations whose main focus is on professionally presenting work to the general public. The Foundation's goal is to advance the abundance and diversity of Chicago's vibrant cultural community.

The Richard H. Driehaus Foundation partners with the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation to support exemplary arts and cultural organizations in Chicago with budgets of up to $500,000. The Foundation provides general operating grants to more than 150 organizations that help enable these groups to present creative work to Chicago audiences as well as to sustain their operations, build their capacity, take risks, and otherwise thrive.


The MacArthur Funds for Culture, Equity, and the Arts at the Richard H. Driehaus Foundation ("MacArthur-Driehaus") welcomes grant requests from small to mid-size organizations of all creative disciplines, including but not limited to:

  • Music and sound
  • Dance
  • Theater
  • Visual Arts
  • Literary Arts
  • Film and video
  • Museums and collections
  • Multi-media and interdisciplinary arts

MacArthur-Driehaus prioritizes funding for organizations that demonstrate all of the following:

  • Artistic technique at a consistently high skill level and creative depth and complexity in the work it presents to the public 
  • Effective planning, evidenced by realistic and measurable objectives for programs and administration as well as a good history of achieving what it sets out to do
  • Strong leadership, including indicators that its leadership team manages the organization effectively and responsibly
  • Solid financial management 
  • Reach that engages a broad and diverse audience or individuals who are under-represented in the local arts ecosystem

The Foundation also factors relevance, particularly in building empathy, acceptance, equity, and empowerment for Chicagoans. In its assessment of an organization's merit as outlined above, the Driehaus Foundation takes into account where that organization is in its evolution as well as its unique challenges and opportunities.

GrantWatch ID#:

GrantWatch ID#: 179303

Estimated Size of Grant:

Grants range from $3,000 to $20,000 a year.

- The Foundation makes awards of up to 10 percent of an organization's total actual expenses in the most recently completed fiscal year.
- For groups that are racial and cultural equity organizations (please see definition on URL for Full Text link below) in MULTIPLE categories, the Foundation makes grant awards of up to 15 percent of the organization's total actual expenses in the most recently completed fiscal year.
- First-time grantees typically come in at lower amounts but are eligible for incremental increases in subsequent years.

Term of Contract:

Applicants not currently being funded may apply for a one-year grant. Current grantees may apply for a one-year, two-year, or three-year grant.

Grantees with single-year grants may reapply annually. Those with two- and three-year grants may reapply in the calendar year that their current grant ends. In general, this means current grantees who would like to reapply should do so prior to the expiration of their grant agreement.

Additional Eligibility Criteria:

Applicants must have completed at least one full year of programming and operations. In addition, those eligible to apply are:

- Nonprofit organizations with 501c3 status from the Internal Revenue Service or formal, organized groups with a fiscal sponsor
- In good standing with the Illinois Secretary of State at the time of submission
- Groups with actual income or expenses of under $500,000, excluding in-kind support, in the most recently completed fiscal year

The vast majority of organizations supported by MacArthur-Driehaus are based in the city of Chicago and have the primary purpose of serving Chicago audiences. On occasion, the Foundation considers proposals from organizations outside the city if over 50% of its audience members reside with the Chicago city limits AND the applicant presents a strong case that the uniqueness of its work enhances Chicago's diverse cultural landscape to a substantial degree. Any prospective applicant based outside the city of Chicago must contact Suellen Burns to discuss eligibility prior to submitting a proposal.

The Foundation supports some, though only a handful, of organizations with annual operating expenses under $20,000. The Driehaus Foundation encourages such prospective applicants to contact Suellen Burns to briefly discuss the scope and reach of their work before submitting a request.

MacArthur-Driehaus does not support:
- Individuals
- Project-specific requests
- Organizations that focus primarily on serving audiences outside of the city of Chicago
- Groups that are legally, financially, or operationally part of a larger institution, e.g., the art department of a college
- Organizations that discriminate on the basis of ethnicity, national origin, race, color, creed, religion, gender, gender identity, age, disability, marital status, sexual orientation, or veteran status
- Work that promotes or proselytizes any religion
- Political campaigns or legislative lobbying
- Stand-alone conferences, publications, films, events, websites, or videos
- Endowments
- Capital campaigns
- Debt reduction

Organizations that have audited financial statements showing income AND expenses of over $500,000 (excluding in-kind support) in both of the two most recently completed fiscal years are ineligible for MacArthur-Driehaus. If a group’s actual income and expenses were between $500,000 and $2,000,000 for the two most recent years, please review Prince Charitable Trusts’ MacArthur Fund for Culture, Equity, and the Arts at Prince eligibility:

Pre-Application Information:

The MacArthur Driehaus funding program has two application deadlines. The deadline that applies to your organization depends on budget size.

- January 19, 2021, 6 pm CDT -- Groups with actual expenses of under $150,000 (excluding in-kind support) in the most recently completed fiscal year may apply.

- May 3, 2021, 6 pm CST -- Groups with actual expenses between $150,000 and $500,000 (excluding in-kind support) in the most recently completed fiscal year may apply.

If you are unsure which deadline applies to your organization, contact Suellen Burns.

The Foundation encourages eligible organizations that are not current grantees to contact Senior Program Officer Suellen Burns at least a few weeks before the application deadline for a brief discussion about alignment with the MacArthur-Driehaus funding guidelines and to answer any questions. You can also email Suellen to request an example of a successful MacArthur-Driehaus grant application.

Public Presentation of Work:
Groups not currently funded by MacArthur-Driehaus should have public presented work that a representative of the Driehaus Foundation can experience firsthand during the four to five months that immediately follow the application deadline. If a group will not have publicly presented work in Chicago until six to twelve months after the application submission, it may still apply, but a positive outcome might be unlikely until the subsequent year. The Driehaus Foundation does not see a group's work until it has submitted an application.

A prospective applicant can access The MacArthur-Driehaus application through the online grants management system approximately eight weeks before an upcoming deadline.

First-time applicants need to register before being able to access the application. (A group may register at any time throughout the year.) Registration includes a short eligibility quiz. The Foundation then verifies registration information and activates the account. Verification and activation take one to three business days.

Once an application is submitted and eligibility confirmed, a reviewer from this team is assigned who will experience the applicant's work firsthand and meet with the applicant. Eligible funding requests are then presented for consideration to the Foundation's entire team of reviewers, staff, and board of directors.

The review process takes approximately five to six months. All applicants receive written notification of the Foundation’s decision.

How to Apply:

Contact Information:

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

Registration/Application Portal:

Suellen Burns, Senior Program Officer:

Driehaus Foundation
737 North Michigan Avenue, Suite 2000
Chicago, IL 60611
Tel: 312.641.5772

URL for Full Text (RFP):

Geographic Focus:

USA: Illinois: Chicago

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