The 2023 Ignite Fund application is now closed. Please sign up for our newsletter to receive updates about our 2023 grantees and the 2024 Ignite Fund cycle.
Applications for Ignite Fund grants will include:
- Contact information for Lead Applicant
- Applicant and collaborator biographies
- Project information
- Project details
- Support Materials
For more details about application guidelines and requirements, please review the documents below.
The Ignite Fund supports the creation and presentation of experimental, innovative, public-facing, and accessible visual arts-based projects by Chicago-area artists and artist-led collectives.
The Ignite Fund prioritizes projects that:
- Center the visual arts in form and content
- Promote collaboration and connection to community
- Center the Chicago metropolitan area through process and/or participation
- Have accessible public presentations
The Ignite Fund provides two types of grants:
- Project Grants ($3,000 and $6,000)
- Research & Development Grants ($1,500)
Artists may choose to apply for either (not both) a Project Grant or a Research & Development Grant.
In 2023, up to 11 grants will be awarded at the $3,000 or $6,000 level.
Project Grants support the creation and implementation of new, public-facing projects that engage audiences through process, presentation, production, or publication. The projects must be ambitious, experimental, and visual arts focused.
Research & Development Grants:
In 2023, up to two grants of $1,500 each will be awarded.
Research & Development support the early stages of a new, public-facing project that may require time to be developed. The projects in development must be ambitious, experimental, and visual arts focused.
- Application Opens: April 10, 2023
- Info Session #1: April 12, 2023, 12:00pm (CT), Watch Recording HERE
- Info Session #2: April 25, 2023, 5:00pm (CT)
- Office Hours Sessions: May 1-15, 2023
- Application Deadline: May 26, 2023, 11:59pm (CT)
- Applicants Notified: August 2023
- Grantee Announcement: September 2023
- Grantee Gathering: Mid-September 2023
- Grantee Cycle Ends: September 2024
Who can apply for Ignite Fund grants?
Individual artists and artist-led collectives (up to 6 people) are eligible to apply for Ignite Fund grants. Throughout the application process, individual artists and the main contact for an artist-led collective will be referred to as the Lead Applicant.
If you are applying as an individual artist, note that Ignite Fund grants are not intended to support the creation of new solo work as part of an individual’s ongoing practice, but are intended to support an opportunity to produce one-time art projects with strong public-facing components and the capacity to have an impact on communities.
If applying as an artist-led collective, your group can be either long-standing or formed specifically for this opportunity. Each collective must identify one Lead Applicant to serve as the primary applicant and grantee contact (*).
Lead Applicants must meet the following criteria:
- Visual artists or artists with a history of presenting their work in visual art contexts/venues. (Performance, film, text, and sound artists are eligible if their proposed projects center the visual arts.)
- Current residents of the Chicago metropolitan area (Cook, DuPage, Kane, McHenry, Lake, and Will counties).
- 18 years or older.
- Not currently enrolled in a full-time degree-granting program.
- Have an active artistic practice and be able to demonstrate recent work.
(*) If you are applying as an artist-led collective, the Lead Applicant is the person designated by your group to be responsible for: the receipt, management, and distribution of the funds; handling all communications with Ignite Fund; and completing all necessary grant reporting.
What types of projects are eligible?
- Projects must center contemporary visual arts practice as the primary root and impulse; other media and performing arts aspects are eligible if visual arts will be the central element of the finished work.
- Projects that can be completed within a one-year grant term.
- Projects that have a clear public component and robust community engagement. Eligible examples include exhibitions, public events/talks, roundtables, community collaborations, public art projects, screenings, publications, festivals, workshops, etc.
What type of projects will NOT be funded?
- Projects that are not based in the Chicago metropolitan area.
- Projects led by incorporated entities (LLCs, B Corps, 501(C)(3) and 501(c)(4) organizations), universities and schools (private, public, charter), and religious entities.
- Projects led by full-time students currently enrolled in high school, college, or university.
- Projects with Lead Applicants who are younger than 18 years old. (Projects can include collaborators who are under the age of 18, but the Lead Applicant and collective members must be at least 18 years old.)
- Projects seeking support retroactively or seeking reimbursement for a past project.
- Proposals for funding for a solo exhibition, individual artist's ongoing work, travel costs, etc.
- Projects proposed by an individual artist to present their own work.
- Projects that do not have a substantial public component.
- Info Session 1: April 12, 12:00-1:00pm (CT) on Zoom, Watch Recording HERE
- Info Session 2: April 25, 5:00-6:00pm (CT) on Zoom
After registering, you will receive a confirmation email with information about joining the meeting.
Artists interested in applying for an Ignite Fund grant can meet individually with Ignite Fund staff (on Zoom) to discuss their project and application. Meeting times are limited. Artists are encouraged to attend or view a recording of an info session prior to registering for an Office Hours meeting.
- Follow the link below to register for a time between May 1 and May 15, 2023
Proposals to the Ignite Fund are reviewed by a panel of jurors made up of five artists and/or professionals currently working in the arts and culture field, including one representative of another Regranting Program of The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts. Criteria for review include the applicants’ past work and the strength, community focus, and feasibility of the proposed project.
Selection Criteria (Project Grants):
Successful applicants will excel in the following:
- Artistic Vision & Creative Strength: The application features a compelling artistic vision and a creative approach to the process and presentation. The applicant describes with clarity how the project represents an experimental, imaginative, innovative, and/or unconventional shift in their work, and how it may advance their practice in meaningful ways.
- Collaboration: The project engages multiple artists and thinkers in the development and presentation processes.
- Community Engagement: The proposed project will actively engage communities in the Chicago metro area. The applicant clearly describes the audience or community for whom the project is intended and why/how the project may be relevant to that intended audience.
- Capacity: The applicant demonstrates that they have the readiness and experience needed to complete the proposed project within the one-year grant period. If the project references any necessary partners or external stakeholders, the applicant has also indicated if and how they will create or deepen relationships with those groups to ensure success. The budget is appropriate to the scope of work proposed.
- Accessibility: The project includes at least one presentation open to the general public. The applicant has thoughtfully considered and described how audience members will access or experience their project.*
*We encourage you to review our Accessibility page, which includes examples, resources, and providers.
Selection Criteria (Research & Development Grants):
Successful applicants will excel in the following:
- Artistic Impact: The inquiry is experimental, imaginative, innovative, and/or unconventional, and furthers the applicants’ practices in important ways
- Context/Relevance: The research takes context into account by engaging with other artists/thinkers in relevant interactions
- Capacity: The applicants demonstrate the ability to carry out the proposed research within the one-year grant period