Hyde Park Art Center Provides Funds To Artists In Non-Traditional Spaces

Blanc Gallery is one of the recipients of Hyde Park Art Center’s Artists Run Chicago Grant. PHOTO PROVIDED BY HYDE PARK ART CENTER.
Blanc Gallery is one of the recipients of Hyde Park Art Center’s Artists Run Chicago Grant. PHOTO PROVIDED BY HYDE PARK ART CENTER.

 Hyde Park Art Center Provides Funds To Artists In Non-Traditional Spaces

By Tia Carol Jones

A grant fund is supporting artists run platforms in Chicago and enabling them to continue their mission of showcasing art.

The Artists Run Chicago Fund is supported by the Hyde Park Art Center. It provides funds to artist-run platforms that give opportunities to other artists, enable them to show their work, support artists in making artwork and make connections between artists and the work they make. The fund also gives priority to platforms led by Black, Indigenous, People of Color, LGBTQIA +, women artists and artists with disabilities. The hope is they can use the funds to strengthen the city’s art communities and artist-to-artist support networks.


Hyde Park Art Center was founded by a group of artists in Hyde Park who saw a need for a place where artists could exhibit and teach art. In 2009, the Director of Exhibitions organized an exhibition of about 30 artists run spaces in the city. It was an opportunity for artists to show work that wasn’t being shown other places. In 2020, there was supposed to be another exhibition with the same goal to showcase the work of artists from artists run spaces. That was how the Artists Run Chicago Fund was born. The goal of the fund was to support artists run platforms during the pandemic.


The first set of funds were distributed in 2021. Thirty-three independent artist-run platforms received $8,000 in unrestricted funds. This year, Hyde Park Art Center partnered with Terra Foundation for American Art. As part of Art Design Chicago, a citywide collaboration that highlights the city’s creative and artistic heritage, 15 of the 33 platforms were awarded an additional $4,000. The fund has distributed $1 million to more than 100 independent artists-run platforms since the fund began.

“We’ve seen how important this funding is for these spaces. A lot of them are not traditional nonprofits that can apply for grants,” said Mariela Acuna, Exhibitions and Residency Manager at the Hyde Park Art Center.


According to Acuna, the spaces who received the grant money are diverse and there wasn’t a grant that was able to support the kind of work that they doing. This year, the grant recipients were selected by a jury of leaders from artist-run platforms.


While there are a lot of grants that offer project funding, where they ask organizations to coordinate programs, it is rare to see grants that support the work the spaces are doing behind the scenes – paying rent, developing a website, paying artists for the work they are doing. An unrestricted grant is a trust-based system that enables the organizations to know where they need to spend the money.


Acuna said in seeing the kind of artist-run spaces that exist in Chicago and how they have endured throughout the years, Hyde Park Art Center wanted to focus the grants on platforms led by Black, Indigenous, People of Color, LGBTQIA +, women artists and artists with disabilities.


“We’ve been really wanting to support groups of people, these priority groups, we see have not been historically able to develop their own spaces,” Acuna said.


Acuna added that it has been heartening to see other people wanting to support these spaces. The team at the Hyde Park Art Center has been really moved by learning about the work the spaces are doing. They hope their work in grantmaking can inspire others to support the spaces.


For more information about the Hyde Park Art Center, visit www.hydepartart.org.

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