Broadway World: Chicago Arts Organizations Receive $500,000 in Grants From Donnelley Foundation

Posted April 9, 2024

Several of Chicago’s Cultural Treasures are among 27 Chicago small arts organizations with budgets under $1 million to receive Cash Reserve Challenge Grants from the Gaylord and Dorothy Donnelley Foundation, according to a report from Broadway World.

Chicago Jazz Philharmonic, Asian Improv aRts Midwest, Congo Square Theatre, the International Latino Cultural Center of Chicago, Red Clay Dance Company, Sones de Mexico, and Threewalls are among the grantees mentioned.

Read more about the grants here.

Authority Magazine: Jeffreen M Hayes of Threewalls On The Power of Authentic Women’s Leadership

Posted April 2, 2024

Dr. Jeffreen M. Hayes, executive director of Threewalls, was recently interviewed as part of Authority Magazine’s series on women’s leadership, “Leading with Heart.” In addition to speaking about her own leadership style, she highlighted the holistic ways that Threewalls seeks to support its artists.

“We work with artists on deepening their artistic practice, and in doing so, we also help attend to their humanity and wellness,” she said. “Threewalls does not believe in the starving artist trope; instead, we believe in and practice paying artists and creatives a living or equitable wage for their artistic labor.”

Read the full interview here.


Print Magazine: Shining a Spotlight on Chicago’s BIPOC Cultural Treasures

Posted March 25, 2024

Print Magazine recently interviewed Tara Townsend, president of IFF’s Social Impact Accelerator, the department that oversees administration of Chicago’s Cultural Treasures. In the interview, Tara highlighted the initiative’s focus on advancing race equity in Chicago’s arts and culture scene.

“By design, ChiTreasures was not a standard grantmaking initiative. It was a race equity initiative for Chicago’s arts and culture sector,” she said. “Our hope is that the initiative’s collective impact will be the ongoing disruption of historical trends in funding for BIPOC-led and -focused cultural organizations as anchors in equitable community development.”

Read the interview here.

Score Values 670AM: Kenya Thomas (eta Creative Arts Foundation) and Vickie Lakes-Battle (IFF) discuss ChiTreasures

Posted March 11, 2024

Kenya Thomas, executive director of eta Creative Arts Foundation and Vickie Lakes-Battle, executive director of IFF’s Chicago Metro Region, spoke about Chicago’s Cultural Treasures in an interview on Score Values 670AM.

“If I have to be extremely transparent, if Chicago’s Cultural Treasures had not happened, I don’t think eta would still be here right now, or I don’t know where we would be right now,” said Kenya. “It really helped us to be able to bring back our programming. We were really at a point where we didn’t know how we were going to make payroll that week — and we got the phone call. So it has been extremely instrumental.”

Listen to the whole interview here.

WVON Morning Show with Rufus Williams: Interview with Coco Elysses (President/Chair, Association for the Advancement of Creative Musicians) and Molly Bartels Roth (Manager of Capacity Building Programs, IFF)

Posted March 5, 2024

On Tuesday, March 5, Rufus Williams, host of the Morning Show on WVON 1690AM, spoke with Coco Elysses from the Association for the Advancement of Creative Musicians (AACM) and Molly Bartels Roth from IFF about Chicago’s Cultural Treasures.

During the interview, Coco highlighted the work that she and AACM have been doing, as well as the value the organization has drawn from its involvement in Chicago’s Cultural Treasures. “Although there are a lot of organizations like us in different genres that provide such rich cultural content for the communities, when it comes to getting funding, we’re low on the totem pole,” she said. “So the Chicago’s Cultural Treasures grant was a wonderful, wonderful blessing to come at the time to our organization.”

Learn more about WVON, and listen to the full interview below:

Chicago Tribune: National Endowment for the Arts provides grants to some of Chicago’s Cultural Treasures

Posted January 26, 2024

Three of Chicago’s Cultural Treasures received grant funding from the National Endowment for the Arts.

Black Ensemble Theater was granted $15,000 for the Black Playwrights Festival; Sones de Mexico Ensemble received $30,000 to support a tour of performances featuring traditional Mexican music; and Teatro Vista received $15,000 to support the development of a work highlighting Latin American pop art artists.

Read more here in the Chicago Tribune.

Enterprise Podcast Network: Preserving BIPOC-led and focused art and culture in Chicago

Posted January 16, 2024

Enterprise Podcast Network sat down with Charlique Rolle, Executive director of Congo Square Theatre, and Vickie Lakes-Battle, executive director of IFF’s Chicago Metro Region, to discuss how Chicago’s Cultural Treasures is focused on supporting the art and culture scene in Chicago.

Listen to the episode and read more here.

Newcity Stage includes several of Chicago’s Cultural Treasures in its Players 50 2024 list

Posted January 9, 2024

Newcity Stage includes several of Chicago’s Cultural Treasures in their list of “The Fifty People Who Really Perform For Chicago.”

As part of their sub-list “Rising Stars and Storefront Stalwarts,” Newcity Stage highlights Deeply Rooted Dance Theater, Teatro Vista, UrbanTheater Company, Congo Square Theatre Company, and Red Clay Dance Company. The Puerto Rican Arts Alliance and Jazz Institute of Chicago are also highlighted in the sub-list of “Programmers.”

Read more here.

CanvasRebel: Chicago’s Cultural Treasures and O. Victoria Lakes-Battle

Posted January 3, 2024

CanvasRebel sat down with Vickie Lakes-Battle, executive director of IFF’s Chicago Metro region, to discuss IFF’s commitment to Chicago’s Cultural Treasures and some of the work that grantees are doing.

Read the full story here.

WGN-TV: Concerts That Provide Music Education For All

Posted December 21, 2023

For West Point School of Music – community and positive impact is high on the priority list, and the concerts they organize are at the heart of doing good. Hear more from founder and president Julian J. Champion, and high school student Te’a Lindsey.

Watch the clip below or click here.

Crain’s Chicago Business: Funding arts organizations means trusting artists to know what they need

Posted December 4, 2023

Deeply Rooted Dance Theater’s Artistic Director Nicole Clarke-Springer published a commentary piece in Crain’s Chicago Business discussing the challenges that Black-led and -serving arts organizations face in appealing to funders while maintaining their own authentic expression.

“Chicago has a broad range of arts organizations committed to their respective missions,” Clarke-Springer says. “It is imperative that we each prioritize authentic expression over conforming to traditional expectations that we hope will keep us relevant to funders.”

Read the whole piece here.

We Empower Magazine: IFF’S Executive Director of Chicago Metro Region, O. Victoria Lakes–Battle Shares the Impact of Chicago’s Cultural Treasures

Posted November 10, 2023

Vickie Lakes-Battle, executive director of IFF’s Chicago Metro Region, recently sat down with We Empower Magazine to answer some questions about Chicago’s Cultural Treasures.

“Chicago does indeed have a thriving BIPOC arts and culture scene, and we can’t emphasize enough for people to go out and experience the art,” says Lakes-Battle in the interview.

Read the full interview here.

Authority Magazine: How O. Victoria Lakes-Battle of IFF Is Helping To Empower Under-Resourced Nonprofits and the Communities They Serve

Posted November 9, 2023

Authority Magazine recently interviewed Vickie Lakes-Battle, IFF’s executive director of the Chicago Metro Region, where she discussed her and IFF’s involvement in Chicago’s Cultural Treasures, among other topics.

“One of the biggest takeaways is that ‘where there’s a will, there’s a way,’ Lakes-Battle says in her interview. “As we look ahead, the collective impact of this initiative will be the ongoing disruption of historical trends in funding for BIPOC-led and -focused cultural organizations, as anchors in equitable community development.”

Read the full interview here.

The Citizen: Chicago’s Cultural Treasures continues to support BIPOC arts and cultural organizations

Posted October 26, 2023

The Citizen spotlighted Chicago’s Cultural Treasures and its work supporting BIPOC-led and -focused arts and cultural groups.

“What we’re trying to do is disrupt historical inequities in philanthropy,” says Vickie Lakes-Battle, executive director of the Chicago Metro region for IFF. “For many of the participating organizations, this Chi Treasures grant opportunity was the first grant they’d ever receive and for others, this was the largest grant they’d ever received.”

Read the full story here.

A Road Together toward Equitable Arts in Chicago: MacArthur Foundation Announces 2023 Grantees

Posted October 26, 2023

The MacArthur Foundation and Field Foundation recently announced 86 recipients of their A Road Together (ART) initiative, a regranting opportunity designed to advance social and racial equity through community arts and culture funding. Of that list of 86, 22 different members of Chicago’s Cultural Treasures will receive funding through this initiative.

Recipients of three-year ART grants include: eta Creative Arts Foundation, Jazz Institute of Chicago, Joel Hall Dancers & Center, Live the Spirit Residency, Muntu Dance Theatre, Musical Arts Institute, Silk Road Rising, South Side Community Art Center, and Teatro Vista.

Recipients of one-year ART grants include: Africa International House USA, Inc., Asian Improv aRts Midwest, Association for the Advancement of Creative Musicians, Chicago West Community Music Center, Congo Square Theatre Company, Diasporal Rhythms, International Latino Cultural Center of Chicago, Natya Dance Theatre, Segundo Ruiz Belvis Cultural Center, Sones de Mexico Ensemble, Threewalls, UrbanTheater Company, and West Point School of Music.

Read more here.

Chicago Tribune: Deeply Rooted Dance celebrates the past, lives in the present — and looks to the future

Posted October 25, 2023

The Chicago Tribune spotlighted Deeply Rooted Dance Theater ahead of a special November 3 performance showcasing the theater’s history.

Discussing the group’s plans for the future, Executive Director Makeda Crayton highlighted a current capital campaign to construct its own studio space, a 33,000 square foot facility in Washington Park called Deeply Rooted Center for Black Dance and Creative Communities. She also discussed the importance for arts groups to own a space of their own.

Quoted in the article, Crayton said, “When we build this building, it’s a different level of commitment, not only to us and the people who work with us, but to the community. We’re planting roots here. It’s a physical landmark. It’s making a bold statement we’re here to stay.”

The article also discusses the current and previous brick-and-mortar plans of Chicago Cultural Treasures Red Clay Dance Company Joel Hall Dancers & Center.

Read the full story here.

The Triibe: Black theaters are LOWKEY thriving right now

Posted October 24, 2023

While many large or mainstream theaters have been struggling since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, Black and other culturally-specific theaters — such as Chicago Cultural Treasures Congo Square Theatre Company and the Black Ensemble Theater — have managed to gain access to funding that has helped keep them afloat.

Read more here from The TRiiBE.

WGN-TV: Preserving Cultural Heritage Of Hispanic Communities

Posted October 11, 2023

In celebration of Hispanic Heritage Month (Sept 15 – Oct 15), Vickie Lakes Battle, Executive Director of IFF’s Chicago Metro Region, had the opportunity to highlight some of the Hispanic organizations that are Chicago’s Cultural Treasures grantees.

Watch the clip below or click here.

Click here to learn more about all of the grantee organizations.

Press Release: 40 BIPOC-led Arts & Culture Organizations from Across Chicago Come Together as Chicago’s Cultural Treasures Grantees

Posted November 29, 2022

Chicago, IL (November 11, 2022) – The 40 BIPOC-led and -focused arts and culture organizations, who have been named Chicago’s Cultural Treasures, came together Thursday, November 10 at Zhou B Art Center alongside the funding partners, the participatory grant committee, and members and lovers of Chicago’s arts and culture landscape, to officially celebrate this recognition and the organizations’ contributions to the history, vibrancy, and identity of Chicago.

Emceed by Angel Idowu, Arts Correspondent at WTTW-TV, the evening began with a recognition program acknowledging each organization. Following the program, a reception was held with music from DJ Lady D and a moving toast from poet, activist, author, and CEO of Urban Gateways, Leslé Honoré.

“Chicago’s Cultural Treasures is about elevating and supporting the people, places, and things that may have previously been unseen to now be seen in a way that is respectful, a way that is dignified, and a way that honors their contributions,” said IFF’s Executive Director for the Chicago metro region, Vickie Lakes-Battle. “It’s an honor to celebrate these 40 organizations and their incredible contributions to the legacy of art and culture in making Chicago a vibrant city.”

Focused on strengthening, growing, and preserving organizations whose mission is to enable the creation, preservation, and dissemination of art stemming from BIPOC traditions, leadership, and culture, Chicago’s Cultural Treasures launched in 2021 as a regional component of the Ford Foundation’s America’s Cultural Treasures. From a theatre company to a dance troupe, a history museum to a cultural center, a visual arts community to a drill team, and more, these grantees represent a diverse group of artforms, neighborhoods, and racial and ethnic backgrounds and traditions.

Many of Chicago’s cultural organizations of color serve as important neighborhood anchors, helping to ensure that experiences and stories are shared and heard. Chicago’s Cultural Treasures, which was co-created with the arts community, aims to ensure these organizations’ sustainability through critical general operating support as well as capacity building assistance.

In January, the next part of the initiative will commence where the grantees will embark on technical assistance offerings covering fundraising, board development, marketing communications, financial management, and facilities planning and support.


Laura Silverman, IFF Director of Communications, lsilverman@iff.org

Block Club Chicago: Little Black Pearl Will Open A Coworking Lounge, Launch Workshops For Adult Creatives This Month

Posted October 8, 2021

KENWOOD — A South Side “cultural treasure” that’s spent nearly three decades working with young creatives of color is expanding its Kenwood location with more adult programs.

Little Black Pearl, 1060 E. 47th St., will open a co-working lounge for creatives by the end of October and roll out workshops in the weeks to follow, founder Monica Haslip said.

The lounge is in its “soft launch stage” for the next two weeks, and visitors can explore the space and offer feedback on the programs they’d like to see hosted there, Haslip said.

Continue Reading This Story on BlockClubChicago.org


Photo Credit: Armand Morris/Block Club Chicago

40 of Chicago’s BIPOC arts organizations receive $14.4MM

Posted July 16, 2021

Chicago’s Cultural Treasures is very pleased to announce $14.4 million in grant funding to 40 organizations that contribute to the history, culture, vibrancy, and identity of communities of color in greater Chicago:

Additional information follows.

New $8 million donation to serve Chicago’s BIPOC arts groups

Posted June 17, 2021

“Arts and cultural institutions can strengthen communities by transforming spaces, fostering empathy, reflecting community identity, advancing economic mobility, improving academic outcomes, lowering crime rates, and improving mental health.”

That’s how philanthropist MacKenzie Scott described the importance of arts groups in her most recent giving announcement. Chicago’s Cultural Treasures was one of 286 equity-oriented nonprofit teams that she chose for a large, unrestricted grant – in our case, $8 million.

These funds represent a nearly 50% increase in our total investment in Chicago’s BIPOC arts organizations – going from $16.75 million to $24.75 million.

Of course, we are thrilled to have a lot more dollars to invest in Chicago’s diverse arts and culture community. But we’re also pleased that Ms. Scott’s ethos so aligns with our approach to seek greater equity in funding art that reflects the full diversity of American culture – and to do so by yielding power to the very communities most impacted by our funding decisions.

We know you may have questions about how this money will be spent. We don’t have the answers yet. We wanted to share this information with you as soon as possible, and to let you know we’d be coming back to you later with more information.

In the meantime, our grant committee — comprised of a diverse group of community members, civic leaders, and artists whose common denominator is an appreciation for how art fits into the fabric of community in the Chicagoland region — are working diligently to determine our first group of grantees, which will be announced in July.

LOI Findings: Chicago’s arts and culture community presents great diversity, varied needs

Posted April 1, 2021

Chicago’s Cultural Treasures launched in December 2020 announcing several bold goals.

We vowed to achieve greater equity in funding art by supporting organizations that reflect the diversity of American culture. As a collaboration between the Ford Foundation, several local philanthropies, and IFF, we will do so by funding organizations whose mission is to facilitate the creation, preservation, and dissemination of art stemming from the traditions, leadership, and cultures of people of color.

We pledged to operate in a different manner, co-creating the initiative with arts and culture organizations and providing multi-year general operating support. We recognize that arts organizations—especially those that celebrate and preserve cultural traditions and those that are led by people of color—are facing unprecedented challenges caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. Yet, many have been underfunded for decades, facing financial struggles long before the pandemic.

We designed an initial process that will inform all that follows, inviting organizations to submit a letter of inquiry (LOI) that described their strengths and assets, as well as their current challenges. We received 148 submissions by the January 2021 deadline.

Fulfilling a commitment to openness and transparency, we are sharing with you what we learned from those submissions – and how we will develop the next phase of the initiative.

“Your work is something everyone needs to see:” Why Chicago arts groups should apply

Posted January 15, 2021

The National Museum of Mexican Art is 1 of the 20 organizations across the country designated by the Ford Foundation as an American Cultural Treasure — “a significant national anchor for artistic and cultural diversity in America.” The museum is the only Chicago-based organization to receive such a designation, which comes with significant general operating support.

Chicago’s Cultural Treasures is building on this initiative with grant funding and programming for Chicago-based BIPOC arts and cultural organizations. Here’s what Carlos Tortolero, the founder and president of the museum, has to say about how the grant is making a difference for his organization and why other BIPOC-identified arts leaders should consider applying to the initiative.