CAC Awards 15 Artists New SPARK Microgrants

By CGN Staff via CAC PR

This week Chicago Artists Coalition shared news of a new grant/award program to support emerging artists with unique support needs. 

CAC announced the 15 inaugural awardees for the SPARK Microgrant: a new, unrestricted award opportunity for emerging Chicago-based visual artists who identify as ALAANA (African, Latinx, Asian, Arab, Native American), an artist with acute financial need, an artist with a disability, or as a self-taught/non-formally trained artist who does not hold a degree from an art program but has made their art practice a primary vocation. With the generous support of the Joyce Foundation, the SPARK Microgrant offers 15 unrestricted awards of $2,000 each to recognize exceptional emerging artists working in Chicago.

2019 awardees include Alexandra Antoine, Gregory Bae, Rose Blouin, Laksha Dantran, Coriama Davis, Kevin Demery, Ashley Freeby, Jacquelyn Guerrero, Candace Hunter, Liang Luscombe, SaraNoa Mark, Meida McNeil, Carlos Barberena de la Rocha, Dorian Sylvain and Chunbo Zhang.

The selected artists span a diverse range of mediums and artistic practices. The unrestricted award seeks to alleviate some of the financial burdens associated with being a working artist today. To read all 2019 SPARK Microgrant awardee bios, click here.

This program reaffirms CAC’s commitment to emerging artists of Chicago and demonstrates the organization’s desire to directly address the historical barriers that have prevented the arts in the city from reflecting its demographic. The SPARK Microgrant recognizes that the category of “emerging artist” is not necessarily defined by age but often a consequence of encountering systemic disadvantages perpetuated by discriminatory policies, structures and practices; or, by operating outside of an academic or institutional system.

The inaugural cycle of the program received 186 applications that were juried by Rashayla Marie Brown, Sky Cubacub, Pemon Rami and Vincent Uribe. 

Caroline Older, Executive Director of CAC, notes, “We are grateful to be collaborating with the Joyce Foundation to create a program that directly supports and acknowledges artists as a vital part of the city’s arts ecosystem.”

“Expanding funding for Chicago artists was among the top priorities outlined in the city’s cultural plan. The creation of this new microgrant program directly connects to that goal,” stated Tracie D. Hall, Director of the Joyce Foundation’s Culture Program.  “We have truly visionary artists living and working in every neighborhood across the city. We hope that this new line of support will help bring some of their visions to life, for their individual benefit and that of their broader communities.”

CAC hired Adia Sykes to manage and administer this new program. Sykes received her BA in Anthropology from the University of Chicago in 2016 and MA in Arts Administration and Policy from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago in 2018. She works as an independent curator and arts administrator throughout Chicago and has previously realized projects with the Hyde Park Jazz Festival, Woman Made Gallery, ACRE Projects and the Chicago Mayor’s Office.

More information on the SPARK Microgrant program can be found here.