The Evanston Arts Council recently announced the annual Cultural Fund Program Grant awards.

With input from an Equity Working Group established in September of 2019, this year the Arts Council revised and simplified the application process and criteria for evaluation for the Cultural Fund Grant program to reflect both the impact of the pandemic and a heightened focus on racial equity.

To make the grant program more inclusive, grassroots community arts groups were invited to apply, as were 501(c)3 organizations. The application was made more approachable, with three narrative questions, rather than seven. For the first time, it was specified that applications from Black, Indigenous and People of Color (BIPOC) organizations, and projects or programs that serve underserved demographics and communities would be provided special consideration, and the judging panel was predominantly BIPOC.

These changes led to a significantly different allocation of the Cultural Fund Grant this year compared to last year:

The number of applications went up 65%; 60% of applicants and 43% of the grantees had never applied for this grant before; the same total budget of $30,000 was distributed among 21 grantees, compared to 12 last year; 71% of the grants went to BIPOC organizations or projects primarily serving BIPOC or underserved populations.

This year’s grant recipients are Art Encounter, Crossing Borders Music, Evanston Art Center, Evanston History Center, Evanston Made, Evanston Present And Future, Evanston Symphony Orchestra, Evanston Young Artists, Family Focus of Evanston, Haitian Community Festival, Kids Create Change, KIDS Global Network, Kitchen Table Stories, Literature For All Of Us, Mitchell Museum of the American Indian, Mudlark Theater, Northlight Theatre, Open Studio Project,  Search Inc., Year of Kindness and Nonviolent Action and Youth Job Center.