Overview and Guidelines

The Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events (DCASE) is dedicated to enriching Chicago’s artistic vitality and cultural vibrancy. This includes fostering the development of Chicago’s non-profit arts sector and independent working artists by providing a framework to guide the City’s cultural future.

Hundreds of thousands of patrons visit the Chicago Cultural Center annually, making it one of the most popular tourism sites in Chicago. The stunning landmark building hosts free musical concerts, films, dance and theater performances, lectures and art exhibitions. In 1991, the building was established as the Chicago Cultural Center; the nation’s first and most comprehensive free municipal cultural venue.

The Learning Lab at the Chicago Cultural Center is a dynamic creative hub for people of all ages and abilities. When the Learning Lab re-opens in 2020, visitors will have an opportunity to delve into art and cultural experiences with artists in a wide range of arts discipline, media and backgrounds.

Non-profit arts organizations and individual artists are invited to present free cultural programs that engage the public. The Meet an Artist series celebrates that sweet spot where the artist and visitor meet together in the Learning Lab. This is an opportunity to engage with a broad audience in a unique way. This year, we are especially interested in activities that align with the Year of Chicago Music. See chicago.gov/music.
Meet an artist. Explore ideas. Make some art. Repeat.

"Meet an Artist" engages visitors at the following times:
  • Fridays (12 – 2pm) – popular with youth under 8 years old, especially on the 1st and 3rd Fridays
  • Saturdays (1 – 3 pm) – popular with teens, families and artists
Programs that address audiences of different abilities are always welcome.

Applications will be reviewed on a regular basis by an internal DCASE committee including the Commissioner. Priority will be given to organizations or individuals who present programs in the visual, performing and literary arts that:
  • are part of a recurring series, such as weekly programming on Saturdays or consecutive Fridays and Saturdays
  • relate to a current Chicago Cultural Center exhibition, DCASE initiative, event or festival include hands on activities. 
For general information on the Learning Lab visit: https://www.chicago.gov/city/en/depts/dca/supp_info/learning_lab.html

Eligibility Requirements:
  1. Must be an artist, non-profit organization or government entity
  2. Application should be submitted at least 60 days prior to proposed program date (90 days or more preferred)
  3. Program must be free and open to the public

Applications must be completed once started and can take 10 - 20 minutes to answer all questions. (Incomplete applications will be discarded.) Be prepared to answer the following:
  • Description of program
  • Desired dates and times (range and flexibility a plus)
For application questions, please contact Susan A. Friel at susan.friel@cityofchicago.org or 312-744-1425.

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