Gen Ops Plus Bowls a Strike

What better place to announce a new arts funding strategy than a bowling alley? What better way to celebrate the artistry of 170 arts organizations than by wearing funny shoes, knocking down the 10 pins, having a little nosh, a little drink, and catching up with friends old and new.

On Monday, March 31, that’s exactly what we did. 10Pin – a hip bowling emporium in downtown Chicago – was packed with our arts grantees. Half of the giant screens that lined the perimeter of the establishment were filled with images from all of the arts organizations GDDF supports. The other half of the screens flashed the GDDF logo morphing back and forth with our new Gen Ops logo, designed by Chicago artist Laura Collins. And mid-way through the party, we took a brief time out to share the whys and wherefores of Gen Ops Plus.

Foundation Executive Director David Farren kicked things off with a welcome and the revelation of his personal connection to the arts: all three of his daughters are active artists. GDDF Board Member Tim Brown added his welcome, thanking everyone for the tremendous work that small arts organizations accomplish to make Chicago a place of such artistic vibrancy.

The crowd broke into applause when Chicago Program Director Arthur Pearson announced GDDF’s re-commitment to provide general operating grants and a new move to offer two-year gen ops grants to those organizations that consistently demonstrate artistic and operational strength.

New Chicago Program Officer Ellen Placey Wadey encouraged groups to take advantage of GDDF’s new PLUS offerings. They include Readiness Reimbursements: up to $500 for each GDDF arts grantee to use for capacity building trainings and counsel. Also new are Readiness Grants: each year, Foundation staff will award more substantive investments – on top of general operations grants – to a few groups that are well positioned to undertake a discrete project to enhance their capacity.

After the announcements ended, the house music kicked up. The bowling balls sang. The pins crashed. The conversations continued… as we hope they will throughout the rest of the year. This summer, be on the lookout for yet another PLUS offering – a collaborative effort among GDDF, the Alphawood Foundation, the Richard H. Driehaus Foundation and the Chicago Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events. Stay tuned.

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