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; 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.

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)
Application and Evaluation Process
Applications are currently being accepted for programs that will take place through May 2019.
Applications will be reviewed monthly and evaluation will be based on the following criteria. 
    • Submitted 120 days before desired event date
    • Organizations with a history of presenting high-quality work
    • Events with artistic merit 
    • Organizations must have a primary mission to create, produce, present, provide, or support arts, cultural or humanities services for the public
    • Events that are original (i.e. not replicating events already taking place elsewhere in the city)
    • Events that promote quality, diversity, and all-age appropriate content
    • Preference will go to a nonprofit, 501(c)3 organizations that have a demonstrated history of programming for at least 12 months
    • Preference will be given to resident companies in the city of Chicago with a valid street address (P.O. Boxes will not be accepted)
    • Preference will be given to programs that correlate to themed days at the Chicago Cultural Center
      • Mondays: Professional Development/Technical Assistance
      • Tuesdays: Theater/Performance/Dance
      • Wednesday: Film
      • Thursday: Open
      • Friday: Family Programming
      • Saturday: Open
      • Sunday: Humanities