What Does Joyce’s New Director Bring to the Chicago Culture Scene?

The last time we were talking about the Joyce Foundation’s local giving, we highlighted its recent education support. This past spring, the Chicago-based funder announced a $3 million commitment to communities in the Midwest to expand college and career pathways in high schools.

Related: How Joyce’s Latest $3 Million Will Be Used in Midwestern High Schools

However, Joyce has a thriving arts and culture program as well that we’ve covered in the past. A big part of Joyce’s culture program strategy is promoting access and diversity, especially in terms of racial equality in the arts.

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Well now, Joyce has brought on a new leader to take charge of its culture program, and she has a lot more to offer than just experience in music, theater and dance. Tracy D. Hall, who is stepping up as the new director of Joyce’s culture program, has a strong background in equity, literacy, youth, and community organizing too.

Hall currently serves as the deputy commissioner of the Chicago Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events, so you know that her roots in the city run deep. She’s taking over for Angelique Power, who’s taking over as the preside of the Field Foundation now. Hall has largely focused her career on creating and growing programs that strengthen the role of arts and culture in the community and liven that role up in economic, social, and educational ventures.

In short, she brings a broad and encompassing view of the arts to Joyce, and we expect big things to come from this leadership change.  Before even fully taking over her new position, Hall outlined a few big goals for Joyce and its culture program:

  • Support Chicago at the heart of the cultural community
  • Be a national advocate for racial equity and economic inclusion
  • Support the next generation of arts and culture leaders
  • Build up local communities through the arts

“I would like to continue cultivating projects that explore the arts and creative sector as a cornerstone of community stewardship and sustainability. Social justice is also a driving and enduring concern for me,” Hall shared in a press release.

Local arts and culture nonprofits in Chicago can rest assured that Hall knows a thing or two about awarding grants in the city. She has a background in the corporate side of giving too, having previously worked as the Chicago Community Investor for the Boeing Company.

While working elsewhere, she was heavily involved in connecting youth with cultural institutions through early literacy and creative writing. These may be arts-related topics that find their way into Joyce’s reimagined culture plan soon too. She’s worked with groups in New York and Seattle, and she’s from South Los Angeles, so it seems she has some perspective of what works for arts groups in American cities. As a woman of color herself, we don’t expect to see much change in terms of Joyce’s dedication to artists of color and minority groups.

Since 1996, the Joyce Foundation has invested over $31 million in more than 400 grants supporting access and equity, capacity-building, and creativity. In July, the foundation announced $13.7 million in total grants, and essentially all culture grantees were based in Chicago. Recent Chicago grants went to Albany Park Theater Project, South Side Community Art Center, Illinois Humanities Council, United States Artists Inc., and Woman Made Gallery. The next Joyce proposal deadline is December 6, for which the board will consider applications in April 2017.