Phew! As It Revamps, MacArthur Makes Clear It Has an "Enduring Commitment" to Chicago

It's been a jittery time for MacArthur grantees as the foundation revamps its funding priorities. But while the ax has fallen in a number of program areas, one thing seems pretty clear at this point: The foundation will not abandon its home city of Chicago, where it's committed over $1.1 billion to local organizations since 1978. Instead, it refers to grantmaking in Chicago as one of its "enduring commitments." 

At the same time, according to MacArthur’s VP of Public Affairs, Andrew Solomon, MacArthur is in the process of revamping its local strategy for Chicago. So it does sound like there will be a shake up that affects Chicago-area grantees. We’re hoping to see this new strategy unveiled around the end of the year or the start of 2016. So stay tuned. 

Arts and culture has always been a big part of MacArthur’s local grantmaking, and it looks that won’t be changing much with this new strategy. The funder gives about $11 million each year to arts and culture groups in Chicago, grantmaking you can explore further on its Arts & Culture in Chicago page.

One interesting program that takes local arts funding to the next level is called the International Connections Fund. This is a way for Chicago arts groups to engage in partnerships with other countries, often taking a performance or exhibit there. For example, the Chicago Jazz Philharmonic recently secured a MacArthur grant to visit Cuba when President Obama announced lifting the embargo. MacArthur likes the idea of sending unexpected groups to unexpected places, and the next grants of this kind should be announced in a few months.

One last thing: The foundation is transitioning to a new grants management system, which has put grantmaking activities on hold between August 10 and September 8. The new system promises advanced and enhanced services with an online interface to apply for funding and better communication between grantees and staff.