Think Grants

Think grants give arts organizations the time and space to think through a question, analyze challenges and opportunities, and develop plans or small tests of change.

Projects range from developing spaces for artists and communities to explorations of the potential of virtual programming to expand community programming. They exemplify thoughtful initiatives seeking new opportunities.

Alt Space Chicago

alt_ is a dedicated creative placemaking initiative designed to engage community members, artists, cultural organizations, community developers, and other stakeholders using arts and cultural strategies to implement community-led change. The grant will support developing a creative placemaking pedagogy that will help youth understand how social and cultural environments impact the community's health, education, and vocational prospects while challenging them to develop their aspirations into concrete action.

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Heaven Gallery

Heaven Gallery is a multi-disciplinary art space that presents emerging artists and musicians. The grant will support steps toward creating a Chicago Model for an Equity Art Center, a place-keeping project aimed at creating restorative space to advance racial equity while preserving the arts from displacement.

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Mezcla Media Collective

Mezcla Media supports 600 women and non-binary filmmakers of color in Chicago with resources to elevate them as storytellers and agents of change at a local level. In partnership with Full Spectrum Features, Open TV, and Sisters in Cinema, this grant will support a symposium for BIPOC Film/Media organizations to identify ways to elevate a pipeline of emerging content creators in Chicago.

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Pegasus Theater

Pegasus is a professional theater that champions new, authentic voices and produces boldly imaginative theatre primarily by and about black, indigenous, or other people of color. The grant will explore the creation of a national young BIPOC playwriting and arts leader apprenticeship project.

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Pigment International

Pigment International is a multi-media arts collective committed to creating new platforms for advancing the modern multi-cultural aesthetic in the visual arts. The grant will support Saving Democracy - An Artistic Exploration, a multi-tiered project that examines the year 2020 via an art and multi-media installation, virtual Salon Talks, a podcast, and the Pigment Magazine. It is a partnership with Chicago Arts Partnership in Education, Chicago State University Art Program, and artist Gerald Griffin.

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Prison + Neighborhood Arts/Education Project

Prison + Neighborhood Arts/Education Project is a visual arts and education project that connects teaching artists and scholars to incarcerated students at Statesville Prison through classes, workshops, a policy think tank, and guest lectures. This grant will help the organization plan a physical space for artists and families of incarcerated people to display art, create art, and hold community meetings.

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photo by: Kristie Kahns

Red Clay Dance Company

Red Clay Dance Company is an Afro-contemporary dance organization whose mission is to awaken "glocal" change through creating, performing, and teaching dances of the African Diaspora–change that transforms cultural and socio-economic inequities in our local and global community. The grant will help it explore if offering its' Making the Artivist program virtually can still deliver the same benefits and outcomes as the in-person program.

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photo by: Moe Zoyari

Snow City Arts

Snow City Arts provides arts education to children and youth in the hospital. The grant will help Snow City research, design, and implement a new programming model that brings arts-based virtual learning experiences to youth in other transitional spaces, including outpatient clinics and juvenile justice programs.

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Sones de Mexico Ensemble

Sones de México promotes a greater appreciation of Mexican folk and traditional music and culture through innovative performance and education. The grant will support a five-year post-COVID plan.

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South Shore Drill Team & Performing Arts Ensemble

The organization uses the performing arts to engage youth throughout their critical teenage years. The grant will assist in creating a sustainability plan as South Shore Drill Team faces the loss of its largest funder.

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photo by: Lisa Green at Momenta Dance

Explore Grants

Explore grants provide arts organizations who have fully developed ideas with the resources to test and implement the concept.

Grants will support budding collaborations and veteran arts organizations that are looking to experiment with projects that strengthen community, build equity, sustain organizations, and amplify the voices of BIPOC and LGBTQ+ artists and artists with disabilities.


3Arts supports and advocates for Chicago's women artists, artists of color, and Deaf and disabled artists working in the performing, teaching, and visual arts. The grant will support its Disability Culture Leadership Initiative. The Initiative will amplify and document the Disability Arts Movement. It will include designing a dedicated section of 3Arts's website as a resource for the field, an expandable account of local disability aesthetics and culture, and a hub of advocacy-centered work.

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photo by: Amy Sheahan

About Face Theatre Collective

About Face Theatre uses theater to advance dialogue on sexual and gender identity, strengthen community capacity, and forge a path toward equity. This grant supports the Green Room Collective, a new youth leadership development model for underrepresented LGBTQ+ youth that simultaneously boosts the Theatre's operational capacity and builds toward a more equitable arts sector.

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Artist Cooperative Residency & Exhibitions (ACRE)

ACRE provides resources and support to a diverse community of emerging artists through its residency and exhibition programs. This grant supports The Chicago Arts Census, an effort to capture data on art workers in Chicago, including detailed information about their employment, living conditions, debt, demographics, existing support networks, and artistic practices. The goal of the Census is to work toward a more sustainable, healthy, and equitable arts ecosystem for the city. The Chicago Arts Census is co-conceived by ACRE and Annas, and enacted with collaborative support from DataMade, and the Chicago Park District's Cultural Asset Mapping Project (C.A.M.P).

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Arts Alliance Illinois

Arts Alliance Illinois champions arts resources and policies that benefit artists, creatives, and all Illinois residents. In partnership with Free Street Theater, the grant will reimagine the organization's Advocacy 101 training program into an immersive process that equips and employs artists and creative organizations to work for systems and policy change.

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Changing Worlds

Changing Worlds fosters inclusive communities through oral history, writing, and arts programs that improve student learning, affirm identity and enhance cross-cultural understanding. The grant will support Teaching Artists Survive and Thrive, a creative effort to provide additional income support to teaching artists during COVID, and an economic slowdown.

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Forward Momentum Chicago

Forward Momentum fills a gap in dance education in economically disadvantaged neighborhoods, predominantly on the south and west sides of Chicago. The grant will allow the organization to expand their dance curriculum to incorporate trauma-informed best practices and deepen the social-emotional learning impacts for every child.

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Mitchell Museum of the American Indian

The Mitchell Museum is one of a handful of museums across the country that focuses exclusively on the art, history, and culture of American Indian and First Nation peoples from throughout the United States and Canada. We promote public understanding of cultural diversity through first voice perspectives. The museum will be creating virtual exhibits and modernizing our collection management software for remote accessibility

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Public Media Institute

Public Media Institute showcases emerging and established artists from Chicago and worldwide in a broad network of art spaces and partner organizations. In partnership with Experimental Sound Studio, the grant will support a pilot training program that will develop a core workforce of diverse engineers and technical personnel for high-quality live streaming production work in the Chicago performing arts sector.

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Honoree-Kenneth Tsang Kong

Sophia's Choice, Asian Pop-Up Cinema

Sophia's Choice's Asian Pop-Up Cinema is a semi-annual film festival presenting Asian films. The grant will support a customizable "virtual cinema" platform to serve as a bridge until it can offer an in-person film festival and help long-term to keep audiences engaged between festivals, allowing home viewers to watch at their own pace.

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Storycatchers Theatre

Storycatchers guides young people touched by the criminal justice system to transform their traumatic experiences into powerful musical theatre and mentors. The grant will support the adaptation of its Changing Voices post-release performing arts jobs program to challenges created by the COVID-19 crisis.

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Strategy for Access Foundation NFP

Strategy for Access produces short videos and documentaries for and about the disabled community. In partnership with Tellin Tales Theatre, the grant will support Children's Stories That Heal, a series of video stories aimed at encouraging young children to learn positive attributes of all kinds of people regardless of ability.

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