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With $6.5 Million Windfall, Chicago Arts Win Out in MacArthur’s Reshuffling

The cast of HMS Pinafore as performed by the Hypocrites, who won a $200,000 MacArthur Award for Creative & Effective Institutions.   Photo: Courtesy of the Hypocrites

In his September feature on the Chicago-based John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, Sam Worley asked how its new boss, Julia Stasch, would focus the organization’s spending—and who might lose funding along the way. Stasch said then that local arts organizations were safe, and today her word proved true when the foundation gave the entire $6.5 million of this year’s Awards for Creative & Effective Institutions to Chicago arts groups.

The winners:

  • A Red Orchid Theatre: $200,000
  • Albany Park Theater Project: $400,000
  • Chicago Film Archives: $200,000
  • Chicago Jazz Philharmonic: $400,000
  • Chicago Opera Theater: $800,000
  • Chicago Sinfonietta: $625,000
  • Eighth Blackbird: $400,000
  • Hyde Park Art Center: $625,000
  • Links Hall: $200,000
  • Lookingglass Theatre: $1 million
  • Lucky Plush Productions: $200,000
  • The Hypocrites: $200,000
  • Timeline Theatre: $625,000
  • Young Chicago Authors: $625,000

At base, the move will have palpable effects on Chicago’s art scene. Even the smallest awards of $200,000 are significant for low-budget storefronts like the Wicker Park-based Hypocrites.

But it also speaks loads to how Stasch will spend the roughly $220 million annually at her fingertips. This is the first time MacArthur Foundation’s decade-old Creative & Effective Institutions grants have gone solely to creative causes, not to mention local ones. (For reference, only one of last year’s eight recipients was local, and only one was purely arts-oriented.) There’s still no word on the foundation’s forthcoming $100 million initiative—slated for unveiling later this year—but given its recent track record, expect something big.

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