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.