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Chicago Region Artistic Vitality

We support over 150 small, professional arts organizations of all disciplines. We provide general operations grants and an array of other kinds of support to help our arts partners sustain their artistry and strengthen their operations. We call this Gen Ops Plus.


To Value Small Arts Organizations
The ecosystem of arts in the Chicago region is big and diverse, yet most nonprofit arts groups operate on small budgets. Together, small arts groups produce most of the art in our region. They reach beyond downtown into nearly every neighborhood. They ensure a perpetual wellspring of new and emerging talent. They challenge. They risk. They fail. They try again. They blow us away.

Many small arts groups – especially the smallest of the small – tend to have fewer options for grants. That’s why we make it our business to support professional arts groups, of all disciplines, that operate on less than $1 million per year.

To Support With Few Restrictions
Unrestricted general operating grants are the life blood of small arts groups, big or small. It allows them the flexibility to spend those dollars where they see fit. Multi-year general operating support provides an extra measure of stability for qualifying arts groups.

To Grow Stronger
It takes training, discipline and often years of experience to master one’s art. Just as challenging, just as important, is mastering the art of running an arts organization. Stronger, more efficient operations tend to allow more time, attention and resources to go toward the art itself. We support the Arts Work Fund and several other technical assistance providers to help organizations grow stronger. We also offer the following additional opportunities for our current arts grantees in the Chicago region:

Technical Assistance Grants

Need help with QuickBooks? Want to take a board development workshop? Each of the arts groups we support with general operating grants is eligible for an additional $500 per calendar year for classes, workshops, etc., that help them address specific organizational needs.

Cash Reserve Challenge

For many groups the key to expanding programming, innovating, taking risk requires financial stability. Those of our arts partners that meet certain criteria may be eligible to receive a matching grant of up to $25,000 to help them establish operational reserve funds.


Several weeks before each grant application deadline, we hold an introductory conversation about our proposal process for eligible organizations new to the Foundation. The next Meet GDDF session is Monday, February 18, 2019 at 6:00pm. To attend, please contact Clover Morell, Program Associate.