3Arts awards nearly $1 million dollars in a single night to Chicago’s women artists, artists of color, and Deaf and disabled artists, marking largest award year in organization’s history

Virtual awards event on November 1 is FREE for the public to attend via YouTube and includes world premiere performances by past award winners
Plus, major expansion to signature artist-to-artist grant program “Make a Wave” announced

CHICAGO, IL (OCTOBER 18, 2021)–3Arts, the Chicago-based nonprofit grantmaking organization, will award Chicago artists with nearly $1 million in unrestricted cash grants during the 14th annual 3Arts Awards, taking place virtually on Monday, November 1, 2021, live on YouTube. The virtual event is free to the public and features three world premiere performances by past 3Arts awardees. Registration is required at 3arts.org/event

 Since 2007, 3Arts has supported more than 1,200 artists—representing 70% women artists, 67% artists of color, and 14% Deaf and disabled artists—and distributed $4.5 million in grants and services. On November 1, 3Arts will be awarding 134 artists including:

  • Ten 3Arts Awards recipients who will receive $30,000 in cash grants.
  • 121 artists selected by past 3Arts awardees will receive $4,000 each in unrestricted grants, through a major one-time expansion to Make a Wave—3Arts’ artist-to-artist grant program—with support from Make a Wave Presenting Partner The Joyce Foundation, sending a bigger “wave” than ever through Chicago’s cultural core.
  • Recipients of the second annual 3Arts Next Level/Spare Room Award—a $50,000 unrestricted cash award given to three women visual artists who are past awardees.

These announcements—together with $230,000 in emergency relief grants given to 3Arts artists in 2021—make this the largest award year in 3Arts history.

“Our annual celebration is a call for our community to give more, do more, advocate more, and invest more in the creative heart of our city,” said executive director Esther Grisham Grimm. “We are pleased to present this joy-filled event so that audiences everywhere can meet some of the Chicago artists whose powerful work lifts us all.”

By providing cash awards, project funding, residency fellowships, professional development, and promotion, 3Arts helps artists take risks, experiment, and build momentum in their careers.

To elevate this year’s awards, 3Arts commissioned three world premieres spotlighting the work of recent awardees, including: Ivelisse “Bombera De Corazón” Diaz, performing with her Bomba Con Buya group; Indigenous futurist and multidisciplinary artist Santiago X, who will debut a new video work to honor Native lands; and powerhouse singer/songwriter and recording artist Meagan McNeal, who will release a music video for an original new song called “Slow Life.”

The 2021 3Arts Awards will continue 3Arts’s new tradition of sharing event donations with a local arts organization. This year’s co-beneficiary is Free Street Theater, selected in honor of theater and teaching artists of all ages who light up every stage they grace.

The 2021 recipients of 3Arts Awards are:

Dance artists Charles “Poppin Chuck” Bledsoe and Cat Mahari; musicians Caitlin Edwards and Shanta Nurullah; teaching artists Emily Hooper Lansana and Andrés Lemus-Spont; theater artists Lili-Anne Brown and David Rhee; and visual artists Andres L. Hernandez and Derrick Woods-Morrow. Learn more about the 2021 3Arts Awards recipients here. 

3Arts will also celebrate the one-time expansion of their groundbreaking artist-to-artist grant program Make a Wave, in which the previous year’s 3Arts awardees select ten Chicago artists to receive surprise grants, sending a “wave” of support through Chicago’s cultural communities. Thanks to a $500,000 grant from The Joyce Foundation, and continuing support from the Siragusa Family Foundation and the Reva & David Logan Foundation, this year, all artists who received a 3Arts Award since the first year of the program in 2008 have selected a record-breaking 121 Make a Wave grant recipients who will receive $4,000 grants, doubling the usual $2,000 amount. The Make a Wave artists include 18 dancers, 29 musicians, 9 teaching artists, 28 theater artists, and 37 visual artists and were announced today.
Meet the 2021 Make a Wave artists here.

The evening is led by event co-chairs: William EstradaLaurel Appell Lipkin, and Kimberly Manuel-Dickens and 3Arts Board Chair Cat Tager.

About 3Arts

3Arts is a nonprofit organization that supports Chicago’s women artists, artists of color, and Deaf and disabled artists who work in the performing, teaching, and visual arts. By providing cash awards, project funding, residency fellowships, professional development, and promotion, 3Arts helps artists take risks, experiment, and build momentum in their careers.

3Arts extends special thanks to 2021 3Arts Awards Presenting Partner: The Walder Foundation and to the 2021 Award Partners: The Chandler Family, Gary & Denise Gardner Fund, The HMS Fund, Stan Lipkin & Evelyn Appell Lipkin, The Reva & David Logan Foundation, and The SIF Fund at the Chicago Community Foundation. One of the ten 3Arts Awards, designated as the Community Award, is named in honor of the Chicago community. Earlier this year the award was supported by 93 donors who contributed to a crowdfunding campaign plus a $15,000 match from 2021 Community Award Partner, BMO Harris Bank. This year’s 3Arts/ BMO Harris Bank Community Award recipient is Emily Hooper Lansana, a community builder, storyteller, arts administrator, and educator who, for more than thirty years, has shared her work with audiences throughout Chicago and across the country.

3Arts also recognizes support for the Next Level/Spare Room Awards from an anonymous donor at The Chicago Community Foundation, as well as Make a Wave Presenting Partner: The Joyce Foundation and Make a Wave Partner: The Siragusa Family Foundation.

3Arts gratefully acknowledges the generous support of the following sponsors: Presenting Sponsors: Allstate Insurance Company and Perkins Coie; Lead Sponsors: Blue Cross & Blue Shield of Illinois and The Chicago Community Trust; Corporate Friends: The Center for Advanced Emotional Intelligence, Northern Trust, SDI Presence, and William Blair; and Media Sponsor: Chicago Magazine.

About The Joyce Foundation

The Joyce Foundation is a nonpartisan, private foundation that invests in public policies and strategies to advance racial equity and economic mobility for the next generation in the Great Lakes region. The Foundation supports policy research, development, and advocacy in six program areas: Education & Economic Mobility, Environment, Gun Violence Prevention & Justice Reform, Democracy, Culture, and Journalism. Learn more about joycefdn.org.

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