What Type of Dance Programs Is the Richard H. Driehaus Foundation Into?

Lots of family foundations fund arts & culture programs, but some are pickier than others. The Richard H. Driehaus Foundation is one of the pickiest arts funders you can find. This foundation is very selective about what types of arts programs it will support, and it’s easy to get lost in the details (Read Richard H. Driehaus Foundation Profile).

Let’s start with a list of what this Chicago arts funder likes to fund and what it steers clear of.


  • General operating support for small theater companies (budgets less than $150,000)
  • General operating support for small dance groups (budgets less than $150,000)
  • Individual artists across all disciplines
  • Small arts organizations with annual operating budgets of less than $500,000
  • Dance companies wanting to improve the quality and safety of their dance floors
  • Small and mid-size theater companies wanting to make performance spaces meet city licensing codes
  • Professional development of the arts


  • Arts education
  • Arts outreach
  • Community theater companies
  • Community dance groups
  • Large, prominent multi-million dollar arts groups
  • Theater and dance companies with operating budgets of less than $150,000
  • Arts groups located outside of the Chicago metropolitan area

There are two grantmaking programs that arts & culture nonprofits should keep on their radar: the Small Theater & Dance Funding Program and the MacArthur Fund for Arts and Culture at The Richard H. Driehaus Foundation. The Chicago grantmaking giant, the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, has contributed the funding for a generous portion of Driehaus’ arts and culture grant making for over a decade.

Although all MacArthur-funded grants go to organizations that operate in the Chicago metropolitan area, direct Driehaus-funded grants are less geographically restrictive. Regardless, almost all foundation grants stay within the Chicago city limits.

The MacArthur Foundation awarded $9,672,000 to the Richard H. Driehaus Foundation in 2012 to cover five years of Driehaus grantmaking for arts and culture in Chicago. The MacArthur Foundation has a similar arrangement with Prince Charitable Trusts, another local Chicago funder.

The Small Theater & Dance Funding Program awards grants to professional theater and dance companies with budgets of less than $150,000. The purpose of these small and timely grants is to give groups the chance to create dance and theater when they might otherwise have little support to do so. The MacArthur-funded PAV Fund primarily seeks to help small and mid-sized theaters and performance spaces meet the City of Chicago’s licensing code and dance companies improve the quality and safety of their dance floors. MacArthur funds that flow through the Driehaus Foundation also go toward supporting artistic and administrative staffing needs.

The next Small Theatre and Dance deadline this year is September 8, and these grants range from $3,000 to $10,000 in size. Unfortunately, the deadlines for this year’s MacArthur Fund for Arts & Culture at the Richard H. Driehaus Foundation grants already passed in January and May, but stay tuned for 2015 updates. Those grants are open to arts organizations in the performing arts, visual and media arts, literary arts, interdisciplinary arts, special projects, museums, and service/policy/advocacy groups.

To learn more about either of these arts grantmaking programs, check out the Driehaus Foundation’s Arts and Culture page or contact Kim Romero, Operations and Grants Manager, at 312-641-5772.