Grant Programs:

Core Grants iconIdea Lab Grants icon

Core Grants

We believe that when arts organizations have the necessary resources to build infrastructure – including information technology, financial systems, marketing and audience development strategies, fundraising, operating processes, strategic plans and volunteer leadership–they are more likely to succeed than those that do not.

Grants of up to $15,000 are made to arts and cultural organizations with operating expenses between $50,000 and $800,000 to support organizational development efforts. Grants enable organizations to hire consultants to help the board and staff accomplish work that requires time, energy, expertise, and innovative thinking beyond everyday operations. We look for projects tailored specifically to the needs of organization receiving the award. We are interested in applicants’ analysis of the state of their organizations and what’s needed to continue to strengthen and sustain them. The Fund will add 10 percent to each grant to support the organizational costs associated with the capacity building project.

Organizational development is an evolving process. Funded organizations can apply for additional support upon completion of their currently funded project. There are no limits on the number of grants an organization can receive in a given year. Organizations are welcome to contact the Arts Work Fund prior to applying to discuss their ideas Receiving a grant from the Arts Work Fund does not impact an organization’s ability to apply separately to funders that are members of the Arts Work Fund collaborative.

NOTE: Beginning March 2018, the Arts Work Fund will no longer accept applications for website or database upgrades.

Before applying, please review the Eligibility & Process page.

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Idea Lab Grants

We know arts organizations devise creative solutions in order to develop top notch artistic products on a daily basis. The Idea Lab grant program is an opportunity to use that same creative thinking to identify solutions to organization challenges or growth needs.

Idea Lab grants support the development and testing of promising ideas or new approaches to solving chronic challenges or to pursuing emergent opportunities - e.g. building audiences, diversifying income, shifting fundraising strategies, new business or operating models, or engaging new communities. Grants are intended to allow arts organizations to identify, implement, and refine new strategies that will have far-reaching effects in helping organizations do their best work.

The Arts Work Fund hopes that new effective organizational practices and creative strategies will emerge from these grants, and that the larger field will benefit from what is learned as a result. The process is competitive. Strong proposals will make the case for the value and impact of the idea and link strategies to core values, mission, and programming. We are open to all ideas. Collaborative efforts are eligible. Applicants must agree to document and share their learning.

Before applying, please review the Eligibility & Process page.

Idea Grants LOI

The Arts Work Fund invests in the financial sustainability, management, governance and growth capacities of small arts and cultural organizations located in the Chicago metropolitan region.

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Arts Work Fund for Organizational Development
P.O. Box 577309
Chicago, IL 60657-7309
773.296.2601 PHONE
773.435.6532 FAX

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