Chicago Artists Coalition Enhances Unrestricted Funding to Artists

Chicago Artists Coalition (CAC) recently unveiled the 25 awardees of its annual SPARK Grant program, along with two recipients of the MAKER Grant and one recipient of the Coney Family Fund Award. Now in its second cycle of grantmaking, the SPARK Grant program supports the creative endeavors of visual artists who identify as ALAANA (African, Latinx, Asian, Arab, Native American), an artist with acute financial need, an artist with a disability, or as a self-taught artist whose art practice is a primary vocation.

Celebrating its 45th anniversary this year, CAC has a strong history of supporting emerging Chicago-based visual artists through unrestricted grant funds. Beginning in 2013, CAC’s MAKER Grant has since awarded 14 Chicago-based visual artists unrestricted grants, totaling $31,600 to date, to support the advancement of their artistic careers. The Coney Family Fund, now in its fourth granting cycle, annually awards one unrestricted grant of $5,000 to an outstanding visual artist in the city of Chicago who identifies as Black or African American. With the SPARK Grant program expanding from 15 awards of $2,000 to 25, CAC now administers a total of $61,000 in unrestricted grants to artists, more than five times the amount administered by the organization only two years ago.

“At this time more than ever, we are committed to awarding unrestricted funds directly to artists,” said CAC Executive Director Caroline Older. “Artists are foundational to the arts ecosystem of our city, and direct financial support is only one of the myriad ways in which CAC offers support and opportunities to Chicago’s community of emerging artists.”

Funded by the Joyce Foundation and an anonymous donor, the SPARK Grant program reaffirms CAC’s commitment to emerging artists of Chicago and demonstrates the organization’s desire to directly address the historical barriers that have prevented the arts in the city from reflecting its demographic. The program recognizes that the category of “emerging artist” is not necessarily defined by age but often a consequence of encountering systemic disadvantages perpetuated by discriminatory policies, structures and practices; or, by operating outside of an academic or institutional system. The 2020-2021 grant cycle received more than 200 applications and will be juried by Sampada Aranke, Candace Hunter, Gloria Talamantes and Derrick Woods-Morrow.

For more information about the programs, visit Interested parties may also contact Teresa Silva,, with questions and for more information.