E(art)H Chicago will highlight important environmental issues in Chicago and the work being done locally to address them through visual and conceptual art — from sculpture, paintings, dance, spoken word, music, film and more.
The intention of the program is to raise awareness, nurture both urgency and hope, and inspire action around climate change, resource utilization and environmental justice. Citywide placement of art in Chicago neighborhoods and downtown will bring together residents during a coordinated period to educate and activate on climate change.
Development of this initiative included over 30 meetings with leaders in the environmental, art and community development fields and input from over 75 Chicagoans of all ages and backgrounds. Artists, environmentalists, community leaders and organizers, scientists, and other Chicago residents participated in three project design sessions held in July and August 2021 to collectively co-create parameters (the how and the what including values, vision, form) around the project with partners and stakeholders. These sessions employed interactive techniques via an expert facilitator, which fostered creative thinking and collective decision-making.
This is a program for Chicagoans by Chicagoans. Individual artists (age 18+), collaborative groups or 501(C)(3) organizations (including those that work with youth) are welcome to apply. We welcome artists at all levels, including: emerging, working, established, self-taught or professionally trained. The review committee is committed to choosing a diverse array of artist proposals and at least $100,000 of project funds are dedicated to supporting artists from or art that engages environmental justice communities.
We are looking for applicants from all backgrounds and perspectives and encourage proposals from:
- Artists whose work reflects the artist’s community / neighborhood
- BIPOC individuals
- Emerging and self-taught artists
- Established artists who apply in partnership with emerging artists
- Individuals in neighborhoods directly impacted by industrially polluted corridors
- Individuals proposing projects in art opportunity areas. Art opportunity areas are loosely defined as community areas in which there are fewer public art assets. Some of these areas include but are not limited to neighborhoods in Chicago’s southeast side (Grand Crossing, Chatham, Roseland, West Pullman), greater southwest side (Garfield Park, Austin, Lawndale), northwest side (Albany Park, Hermosa, Avondale)
- LGBTQ individuals
- Persons with disabilities
- Projects that involve community collaborations / partnerships
***All applicants must reside in and operate out of the city of Chicago.***
Unfortunately, no. The grant program limits eligibility to individual artists (age 18+), collaborative groups, or 501(C)(3) organizations (including those that work with youth) who reside in and operate out of the city of Chicago.
Yes. We will be providing a 1099 to all artists who receive grant funding, and 1099’s require a social security number (or EIN if you are a sole proprietor / single member LLC).
Artwork is defined by this program in the broadest possible manner and may include sculptures, murals, paintings, dance, music and theater, poetry and spoken word, film, performance, experiential and any other art that applicants wish to propose. Physical pieces will be located on public land in conjunction with E(art)H Chicago partners to ensure accessibility. Performance and event-oriented pieces will need to be accompanied by an audience engagement plan.
Political, religious, and commercial messages and icons are not allowed; nor are blatant or direct advertising and corporate logos. Content that is damaging to the integrity of a third party is not allowed.
The application will be a 2-stage process starting with a Letter of Interest (LOI), followed by an invitation to submit a full proposal for a select number of LOI applicants. Once the full proposal is submitted, applicants will be required to participate in a 30-minute online interview. View the full RFP to see the list of application questions for each stage.
We can only support applicants for one proposed project, so you’d be competing against yourself if you submit multiple projects. Multiple events / artworks could be considered as one project, so if there is a reasonable way to combine your ideas into one proposal, that would likely be best. Otherwise, put forth your best individual project in your proposal.
Funds can be utilized for:
- Artist stipends that represent a reasonable portion of the applicant’s overall budget.
- Materials and supplies that are a reasonable portion of the applicant’s overall budget.
- Community organization / partner stipend.
- Indirect costs, such as studio rental, insurance, accounting, insurance, accounting, etc.
- Art transport (including driver, vehicle rental and gas if needed).
- Art placement costs.
- Archival costs.
- Community engagement event(s) accompanying the art.
- All project expenses that will be incurred during the grant period and are NOT listed under Funding Restrictions (below) are eligible for support through this program.
- Expenses associated with COVID safety and disability needs relating to art creation, transport and exhibition.
Funds are restricted from being used for:
- Capital improvements.
- Tuition for a degree or certificate-based, university level or any other educational program.
- An applicant or collaborator on more than one proposed project.
- Fundraising events, religious ceremonies, or advocacy of specific political candidates.
It is the project team’s responsibility to cover any project-related expenses in excess of the grant-awarded amount of funding.
Does the funding need to be for a new project? Or, do projects already need to be in development to receive funding?
Projects submitted can be new – they do not already need to be in development – however we also welcome proposals of artworks that augment existing community art (whether already on display/performing or not).
Artworks do not need to be solely funded by the E(art)H Chicago grant program, however we prefer to fund artworks that have not already received substantial outside funding.
For physical artworks, the grant disbursement schedule will be as follows:
- 50% upon grant agreement signature
- 25% upon artwork completion
- 25% upon installation
For performance or other experiential artworks, the grant disbursement schedule will be customized for each project, but will likely follow the following grant disbursement schedule:
- 50% upon grant agreement signature
- 25% at a key project milestone
- 25% once all performances / events are completed
The applicants’ response need not directly be to the climate crisis. Applicants can respond to, very broadly, the connection between humans and nature within the region. Climate change, natural resource use, and environmental justice are all topics that are included but not exhaustive. The work should invoke any aspect of the relationship between humans and nature, and inspire people to consider this relationship.
Will artworks need to be displayed outdoors or indoors? And what about city permits and other permissions for use of public space?
Artworks supported will need to be displayed or performed in publicly accessible locations. We are open to both indoor & outdoor installations, as long as the locations are easily accessible by the public.
We can facilitate connections for the placement of your artwork, but it will be helpful to know in your letter of interest your preferences for where your artwork should be placed, if any, such as indoors vs outdoors, and a specific venue if you already have one in mind.
For city permits – we are in conversation with Chicago Park District to identify sites based on the neighborhoods in which applicants would like their artworks placed, and are in conversation to secure the downtown artwork location as well.
The following resources are available to applicants in order to ensure foundational knowledge of Chicago’s environmental challenges related to climate change, energy and environmental justice, along with an understanding of what’s being done to address these issues locally:
- Virtual application info sessions – See previous info session recordings and the deck.
- For educational and inspirational purposes, an online resource guide will provide insights into Chicago’s environmental challenges and some existing initiatives working to address those challenges. See Resources.
- After the Letter of Interest application stage, applicants invited to submit a full proposal will receive a stipend upon submission of a complete proposal. Smaller artworks projects will receive a $100 stipend, medium artworks projects will receive a $175 stipend, and larger artworks projects will receive a $250 stipend for the full application process.
- Applicants selected to receive grants will have access to local subject-matter experts in the arts and environment.
- No Applicant Turned Away – For all those applicants who we are unable to support, alongside other interested community members looking to get involved, we will provide a community resource toolkit for self-activation of independent artwork with information on where to access potential resources, financial and otherwise. Suggestions in the toolkit may include connections to community groups, such as local park advisory councils and nonprofit organizations. Relevant artworks that are developed without program funding still have the potential to be listed on the website as an ‘inspired’ or otherwise categorized project.
A minimum of 5 artworks will be funded:
- 2 – 5 smaller artworks projects: funding between $7,500-$10,000
- 2 – 4 medium artworks projects: funding between $10,000-$30,000
- 1 – 3 large artworks projects (this project level is only for physical pieces of art): funding between $50,000-$100,000
All Letters of Interest (LOI) submitted will be initially screened to ensure they are complete and meet the basic application criteria. Complete and criteria-passing applications will then be invited to submit a full application to be reviewed by the Review Committee.
The Review Committee will score full applications based on the following scorecard elements:
- Messaging: Message being conveyed through artwork and how it honors the values of the project.
- Artist Experience: Is there evidence that the artist(s) has/have adequate training and experience?
- Budget: Does the project seem economically feasible if awarded the amount requested? Is the budget complete, accounting for direct and indirect costs?
- Location: We hope the art we support will impact people across Chicago, therefore, art will be selected across various communities in addition to one physical art piece placed downtown. Consideration will be given towards art proposed in low-income communities, communities in need of public art and communities located in environmental justice areas.
- Art Opportunity Areas: Extra consideration will be given to art proposed in art opportunity areas. Art opportunity areas are loosely defined as community areas in which there are fewer cultural and public art assets.
- Range: How public the artwork can be – does the art lend itself to larger public audiences?
- Physical Materials: For artworks using physical materials – the environmental friendliness of those materials and matching the longevity / sustainability of artwork to the length of exhibition.
- Audience Engagement: How interactive or participatory the artwork can be.
- Community Engagement: Community collaboration and/or engagement. We will give preference to applicants who have community engagement plans.
- Additional Funding Sources: We will be more favorable towards proposals that haven’t received significant outside funding for this specific project.
- Other Considerations for final grant decisions:
- Grant size diversity based on applicant pool
- Art category diversity based on applicant pool
Those who submit a Letter of Interest by February 2, 2022 will be notified by February 9, 2022 if they are invited to submit a Full Application. Final grant decisions will be communicated by April 4, 2022 to those who were invited to submit a Full Application.
- December 8 – January 31, 2022 – Call for Letters of Interest
- January 5 + 18, 2022 – Pre-application workshops (see recordings + deck)
- February 2, 2022 – Letters of Interest Deadline (extended from Jan 31st!)
- February 9, 2022 – Invitations for Full Application
- March 7, 2022 – Full Application Deadline
- April 2022 – Grant selections communicated to applicants (late April)
- May 2022 – Public Announcement of Artist Grant Selections
- April 2022 – April 2023 – Art creation period
- May / June 2023 – Launch Public Arts Projects – public programming period to run for 2 weeks, estimated to start Memorial Day Weekend, the last weekend in May