If you're looking for the premier theatrical destination in Chicago, look no further than the Goodman Theater. As the oldest and largest non-profit theater in the city, Goodman has gained worldwide recognition for its quality productions, diverse artistic leadership, and educational programs. Since it was established in 1922 from a $250,000 gift from William and Erna Goodman, the Tony Award-winning theater has depended upon grants from major philanthropists like The Joyce Foundation. In fact, more than 40% of their operating budget comes from donor contributions. (See Joyce Foundation: Chicago Grants).
In 2012, the Joyce Foundation gave $300,000 to Goodman to support artistic development and diversity programs. This grant money goes towards the theater's full calendar of theater performances. There are currently eight plays in rotation at the theater, including Sweet Bird of Youth, The Jungle Book, and Measure for Measure. The grant money also goes towards educational programs that provide one-on-one mentoring to high school girls, theatrical training for 14–19-year-olds, and writing workshops for senior citizens.
Goodman Theater's grant fits into Joyce’s "Culture Access" category. The other culture categories are for Community-Based Arts, Creativity, and The Joyce Awards. The Access category focuses on development, training, outreach, presentations, and salary for artists and administrators of color. If your organization promotes multiple ethnic viewpoints and includes leadership from different racial backgrounds, you have a chance at an Access grant. (Read Joyce director of programs, Grretchen Crosby Sims' IP profile).
Small theatrical productions don't stand much of a chance with the Joyce Foundation, as it focuses on mid-size and major cultural institutions like the Goodman Theater, for example. Other large and established theatrical grant recipients include Steppenwolf Theater Company and Black Ensemble Theater Corporation. Last year, Joyce gave $125,000 to Steppenwolf's multicultural fellowship program and $150,000 to the Black Ensemble Theater for continued funding for the general manager's position.
Grant proposals are considered at foundation board meetings in April, July, and December. Grant applicants are encouraged to submit their proposals for the April or July meetings, since most grant funds will be distributed at those times. Unless your organization is looking into a grant from The Joyce Awards, all theater grants are limited to organizations in the Chicago metropolitan area.