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