Terra Foundation for American Art: Chicago Grants

OVERVIEW: The Terra Foundation for American Art funds exactly what the name suggests. Since 2005, the foundation has been awarding grants to American art exhibitions, art scholarship programs, and art education initiatives.

FUNDING AREAS: Visual arts, art education, and museums

IP TAKE: If you're running an arts organization in Chicago, the best chance to receive funding from Terra is by applying for a Chicago Public Programs or a Chicago K-12 Education Program grant. Otherwise, you're competing with lots of international organizations that have enviable program budgets.

PROFILE: Who says that the world's best art comes from overseas? The Terra Foundation for American Art was established by a businessman and art collector who wanted to show the world that the United States could compete with masterpieces from around the globe. After Daniel J. Terra started the foundation in 1978, he opened his first museum with 50 paintings in the Chicago suburbs. Since that time, the Terra Foundation has expanded its collection to more than 700 pieces, relocated to downtown Chicago, and even opened the Musée d'Art Américain Giverny in France to showcase American impressionist works.

But this foundation has developed into much more than a rotating museum circuit. Since 2005, the Terra Foundation has been awarding grants to American art exhibitions, art scholarship programs, and art education initiatives. Academic programs, fellowships, visiting professorships, publications, and public programs in Chicago also see Terra's support.

Here are a few links to check out to learn more about the grantmaking programs and upcoming deadlines:

In fact, it has granted well over $35 million for at least 350 art exhibitions and scholarly programs around the world in recent years. A list of awarded grants can be found here.

Although the foundation’s grantmaking is limited to programs focused on furthering visual American art, there are several subcategories for grantees to consider. Chicago-based museums have received some preferential treatment for exhibition grants, which are awarded to help scholars and the public understand and appreciate American art made between 1500 and 1980. 

Terra made headlines by contributing paintings to an Australian exhibition, "America: Painting a Nation," which aims to educate Australians about the diversity of the American experience from the 18th century to World War II. The Terra Foundation also recently worked with The Newberry Library to paint a portrait of life in the North during the Civil War through music, literature, and art.

If you're running an arts organization in Chicago, the best chance to receive funding from Terra may be to apply for a Chicago K-12 Education Program grant. Otherwise, you'll be competing with a lot of international organizations for a limited budget of Terra funds. The Chicago Public Program letters of inquiry are reviewed three times a year, and Terra is especially interested in programs that highlight aspects of Chicago's influence on art history. It's worth submitting a letter of inquiry if your K-12 arts program teaches teachers about American art history and helps them convey the importance of art to their students.

Most Terra grants range from $5,000 to $500,000, so this isn't the foundation to contact with your million-dollar proposal. Past Terra grants include $125,000 to the Art Institute of Chicago to support the Art and Apetite exhibition, $100,000 to the David and Reva L. Logan Center for the Arts and $300,000 tot he Window to the World Communication. Initial letters of inquiries should be submitted via email to grants@terraamericanart.org.

PEOPLE:

  • Elizabeth Glassman, President and CEO
  • Amy Gunderson, Grants Manager
  • Carrie Haslett, Program Director of Exhibition & Academic Grants*
  • Jennifer Siegenthaler, Program Director of Education Grants & Initiatives
  • Sara Jatcko, Education Grants & Programs Associate

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