MacArthur Boosts Chicago Summer Concert Series

Although the city is known for its miserable winters, summertime in Chicago makes the suffering worth it. After hibernating through the snowy months, Chicago residents flock by the thousands to outdoor music venues in the city’s parks. The Grant Park Music Festival is the largest free summer classical music series in the country. Charitable contributions by major philanthropic leaders like The MacArthur Foundation make these festivals more successful every year.

The MacArthur Foundation awarded $262,500 to the Grant Park Orchestral Association and Music Festival to use between 2010 and 2013. These funds are indicative of MacArthur's continued support for the festival's ten-week summer seasons, which are all free and open to the public. More than 300,000 people gather to hear the Grammy-nominated Grant Park Orchestra and Chorus perform each year. The performances take place in the open air Pritzker Pavilion of Millennium Park and expose classical, contemporary, dance, opera, and world music to diverse audiences. See MacArthur Foundation: Chicago Grants

Since all the festival performances are free, the Grant Park Orchestral Association relies on the large contributions from foundations like MacArthur. MacArthur rounded out its recent support for music in Chicago with a $500,000 grant to the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, a $100,000 grant to the Jazz Institute of Chicago, and a $50,000 grant to the Fulcrum Point New Music Project.

MacArthur's grantmaking priorities lie with funding for multi-year general operating support projects. Currently, MacArthur supports over 200 arts and culture organizations in the Chicago area and makes grants directly to organizations with budgets over $2 million. A much smaller portion of MacArthur’s arts funding (about 20%) goes to finance, marketing, research, and tools to access the impact of the arts. (Read MacArthur Foundation arts program officer, Cate Fox's IP profile).

If your music organization is looking to get funding from MacArthur, you should review its Arts & Culture Info Sheet, which details the following criteria the board uses to evaluate grant proposals:

  • Quality of the organization's artistic programs;
  • Strength of its board and staff leadership;
  • Impact on the surrounding neighborhood, the city or the region;
  • Sizes and types of audiences served; and
  • Community and educational outreach activities.

For more information about obtaining a music grant, contact Deepa Gupta, Program Officer, by email here.