Chicago Cultural Treasures embraces and reflects all this and more, representing a diverse ecosystem that defines the vitality and vibe of the city from A to Z.
Chicago is ideal for participating in the Ford Foundation’s America’s Cultural Treasures Regional Challenge. The racial and ethnic demographic composition of Chicago is roughly one-third white, Black, and Latinx each (less than 7 percent of the population is either Asian or Indigenous) and its constellation of arts and cultural institutions of color reflect the rich diversity of the city’s population. Its timeline of cultural influences on the nation can be easily tracked, from the birth of gospel music in the 1930s; the explosion of Black literature in the 1940s; Chicago’s Black Arts Movement of the 1960s and 1970s; the Latinx mural movement of the 1970s and 1980s; and the rise of house music, spoken word poetry, and urban dance forms in the 1990s to today have all reverberated across the globe.
Many of Chicago’s cultural organizations of color serve as important neighborhood anchors. These institutions sustain cultural traditions and identities, build community, provide access to the arts in all neighborhoods, and help ensure that experiences and stories are shared and heard.
Although these and many other organizations of color are vital to the cultural life of the city, they remain undercapitalized and have been impacted disproportionately by a long history of economic and racial segregation. Chicago’s Cultural Treasures hopes to provide Chicago’s diverse institutions with meaningful support focused on their long-term sustainability.
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This initiative is administered by the nonprofit financial institution IFF and funded by these foundation partners, as well as an anonymous donor and the philanthropist MacKenzie Scott.