Artistic Vitality – Chicago Region – Strategy and Guidelines


We support over 170 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.

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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.


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.



  • If you are new, we have to see your work before you can apply. All potential Chicago Artistic Vitality grantees should send an introductory email to Abigail Madden – Associate Program Officer, Chicago Artistic Vitality with your intent to apply, any questions they have about the application, and upcoming dates for performances/ shows/ exhibits.
  • You must
    • be a 501(c)(3) public charity or have a fiscal sponsor that is.
    • be in compliance with your Secretary of State.
    • have total annual expenses under $1 million.
    • have completed at least one full fiscal year of operations and one full production season.
    • be producing in the following counties:
      • Wisconsin – Kenosha or Walworth
      • Indiana – Lake, Porter, LaPorte
      • Illinois – Cook, DuPage, Grundy, Kane, Kendall, Lake, McHenry, Will
    • demonstrate or strongly promise artistic vitality. We take into account how much programming an organization offers and the degree of professionalism, factoring in the artistic discipline, budget size and where an organization happens to be in its evolution.

The following are not eligible:

  • Individuals.
  • Organizations primarily focused on arts education or social service.
  • Amateur or community arts groups.
  • Presenting organizations.
  • Stand-alone or one-time festivals, conferences, or other events.
  • Stand-alone publications, films/videos, or websites.
  • Religious activities, political campaigns, or legislative lobbying.
  • Endowments, capital campaigns, or debt reduction.
  • Groups that are legally, financially, or operationally part of a larger institution, e.g. the art department of a college.

Organizations are eligible for grant amounts based on annual expenses for the most recently-completed calendar or fiscal year:

    • Annual Expenses
    • Up to $25,000*
    • $25,000 – $50,000
    • $50,000 – $100,000
    • $100,000 – $200,000
    • $200,000 – $300,000
    • $300,000 – $500,000
    • $500,000 – $750,000
    • $750,000 – $1Million

    • Grant Amount
    • $2,500
    • $4,000
    • $6,000
    • $7,500
    • $8,500
    • $10,000
    • $12,000
    • $13,500


New applicants – 

Current grantees – 

  • Final reports are waived in 2022. You will receive a link via email to a reapplication form a month ahead of the deadline noted in your award letter.
  • Log into the portal to access your forms.
  • Our next 2023 proposal deadline is Friday, March 31.
  • Progress reports are due May 31 and September 30. Please check your portal for the forms.
  • For more information about reporting, PRIs, technical assistance, and other tools, check out the Current Grantees page.


For questions about your eligibility or content questions about your proposal, please contact Abigail Madden, Associate Program Officer, Chicago Artistic Vitality.

For questions about the application form or process, please email