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 is home to two magnificent stain-glassed dome ceilings as well as free musical concerts, dance and theater performances, film screenings, 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 ArtsSpace grant program offers opportunities to non-profit arts organizations to host free cultural programs at the Chicago Cultural Center throughout the year. Organizations that are interested in these partnerships may apply through a competitive application process which is reviewed by DCASE staff.  A select number of programs and organizations will be identified and approved. If selected, venue rental fees will be waived. All  operational and production costs will need to be covered by the organization including (but not limited to) Audio/Visual Equipment and Technicians,  Labor, Equipment and Event Support Staffing Requirements. Fees vary based on scope of event, but can range between $300 - $2,000 depending on personnel and equipment needs; further information is available upon proposal acceptance.
 
Events must be free and open to the public/participants (no donations or fee-based admission). Events should take place during building hours (Monday-Friday 10am-7pm, Sat/Sun 10am-5pm). For events that run beyond normal building hours, costs will be incurred regarding after-hours staff and security.

(NOTE: Visual Arts organizations seeking exhibition space may apply through the Michigan Avenue Galleries Program. Applications for 2020 will open February 4, 2019.)

Available spaces include:
  • Preston Bradley Hall (500 seated)
  • GAR Hall (300 seated) and/or Rotunda
  • Claudia Cassidy Theater (300-seat theater)
  • 5th Floor Millennium Park Room (100 seated)
  • Studio Theater (after 3pm) (100 seated)
Applications will be reviewed on a monthly basis by an internal DCASE committee including the Commissioner.  Applicants must meet the following criteria:
  • Must be submitted at least 120 days before the desired event date.
  • Must be a nonprofit, 501(c)3 organization or government agency.
  • Must have a primary mission to create, produce, present, provide or support arts, cultural or humanities services for the public.
Priority will be given to organizations and events meeting the following criteria:
  • Organizations with a history of presenting high-quality work.
  • Events with artistic merit.
  • Events that are original (i.e. not replicating events already taking place elsewhere in the city).
  • Events that promote all-age appropriate content.
  • Applicants and projects that demonstrate clear commitment to diversity & equity, one of the core values of DCASE, across race, ethnicity, class, ability, gender identity and sexual orientation. We seek partners that share our belief in the power of the arts to build community, inspire social change and bring fresh perspective to difficult and complex issues.
  • Proje

T