Impact Report 2023

Yemi Alade, Millennium Park Summer Music Series

Our Mission

The City of Chicago Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events (DCASE) supports artists and cultural organizations, invests in the creative economy, and expands access and participation in the arts throughout Chicago’s 77 neighborhoods. As a collaborative cultural presenter, arts funder, and advocate for creative workers, our programs and events serve Chicagoans and visitors of all ages and backgrounds, downtown and in diverse communities across our city—to strengthen and celebrate Chicago.

Maker Thinker Block Party

Letters From the Mayor and Commissioner


$23.5 million in grant support to artists and organizations, a 25% increase over 2022
749+grants awarded across five programs
341%increase in gen-op support to nonprofit arts organizations through CityArts Program from 2021 to 2023 ($7.5m)
$9.5 million awarded to grantees on the South and West sides Chicago Monuments Project: A Long Walk Home
10Chicago Arts & Health Pilot apprentices, working in 5 mental health clinics Chicago Arts & Health Pilot
1inaugural Chicago Poet Laureate: avery r. young avery r. young
$6.8 million grant from Mellon Foundation to create eight new Chicago monuments
$3.5 million public art commission of 20 artists at O'Hare International Airport
60+active public art projects and collaborations in neighborhoods across Chicago
≈ $700 million in record-breaking film production revenue in 2022 (reported this year) TV & Film production, Chicago Cultural Center
49 wards hosted film productions, with 1,000+ film permits issued
39 film screenings and industry events attended by over 50,000 people Deputy Commissioner Jonah Zeiger and Bashir Salahuddin, Millennium Park Summer Film Series
571 special event permits issued
11 Chicago Cultural Center exhibitions and 50+ related programs, attracting 300,000 visitors
25 residencies for artists and organizations
3X increase in attendance at Chicago Gospel Music Festival (9,500) Chicago Gospel Music Festival
10,500 attendees at Taste of Chicago neighborhood events in Humboldt Park, Pullman Park, and Marquette Park
70,000 combined audience for 110th Annual Tree Lighting Ceremony in Millennium Park 110th Annual Tree Lighting Ceremony

Neighborhood Spotlight

Fulfilling our mission in Austin

Bernard Williams at a community meeting for the Austin Soul City Gateways project
Bernard Williams at a community meeting for the Austin Soul City Gateways project

We’re proud to share the following stats illustrating our 2023 Cultural Grants and Resources, Public Art, TV & Film work, and Festivals & Events in just one community—Austin, a West Side neighborhood with rich history, beautiful architecture, and a vibrant cultural scene. Of course, this is just one example of how DCASE fulfills its mission throughout all of Chicago’s 77 neighborhoods.

  • 9 cultural grants awarded to artists and organizations—via the Chicago Arts Recovery Program, Chicago Presents, Individual Artists Program, and Neighborhood Access Program
  • 2 public art forums (in-person and virtual), for Soul City Corridor gateway to be designed by Bernard Williams
  • 2 public art installations at Joint Public Safety Training Campus by Bob Faust, and at Chicago & Mayfield by ALT_ Chicago
  • 2 film permits issued
  • 5 special event permits issued
  • 20 farmers markets at Austin Town Hall Park and Cultural Center
  • 4 cultural events including Chicago SummerDance
Mayor Brandon Johnson and Praize Productions, Millennium Park Residency Program

Supporting Artists and Cultural Organizations

Mayor Brandon Johnson and Praize Productions, Millennium Park Residency Program

Cultural Grants & Resources

Fueling Chicago’s arts sector

Neighborhood Access Program grantee: Gary Comer Youth Center
Neighborhood Access Program grantee: Gary Comer Youth Center Doug Kenney

Thanks to American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funding, DCASE launched a new Chicago Arts & Health Pilot program in 2023 (now Healing Arts Chicago), in partnership with City Colleges, the Department of Public Health, and One Nation/One Project. Ten apprentices are now working in five mental health clinics citywide.

To learn more, visit

The Chicago Arts & Health Pilot for Creative Workers is an innovative approach to creating resilient, healthy communities and nurturing Chicago’s support for the arts community. Thank you to CDPH, DCASE, and City Colleges for developing the unique approach to this first-of-its-kind program.

Mayor Brandon Johnson

Commissioner Erin Harkey at Chicago Public Library: Theaster Gates, Altar for the Unbanned
Commissioner Erin Harkey at Chicago Public Library: Theaster Gates, Altar for the Unbanned

Our public art team is now managing close to $10 million in investments across 24 wards including a $3.5 million commission at O’Hare International Airport in partnership with the Department of Aviation—the City’s largest single acquisition of works by Chicago artists in the last 30 years. Visitors arriving and departing from O’Hare’s Terminal 5 will now see an extraordinary new public art collection of more than 20 Chicago artists including: jina valentine, Jonathan Michael Castillo, and an exhibition featuring 17 original works curated by Behar X Schachman.

Additionally, a monumental sculpture by Hank Willis Thomas and Coby Kennedy in O’Hare’s Multi-Modal Facility joined previously installed works by Nick Cave, James Carpenter Design Associates, and Rob Ley. The O’Hare commission is one of more than 60 active public art projects and collaborations in 2023, in neighborhoods across Chicago—from a light installation by Luftwerk and Gloria Talamantes inspired by residents of the Back of the Yards community; to a banned books project by Theaster Gates at the Harold Washington Library Center; to a series of sculptures, a mural, and other elements created by Bob Faust at the City’s new Joint Public Safety Training Campus. Faust worked with Community Policing officers and youth from the adjacent Boys & Girls Club, incorporating their images of Austin into the artwork’s design. In October, five large-scale art banners by Leonard Suryajaya were installed along the Chicago River, reflecting a vision of an immigrant’s experience through a queer lens.

In June, the Mellon Foundation announced a grant of $6.8 million to DCASE to support the Chicago Monuments Project—memorializing events, people, and groups that historically have been excluded or underrepresented. This catalytic support will fundamentally strengthen our city, as our public art collection becomes more honest and inclusive.

For more information, images, and videos, visit, and

For millions of passengers, Terminal 5 is their first impression of not only Chicago, but our entire country—and there is no better way to showcase the essence, the diversity, and the beauty of Chicago than through the arts. I thank Mayor Johnson, Commissioner Harkey, and the artists for their dedication to this commission, and I look forward to building upon this successful public art program as work begins on our core passenger facilities through O’Hare 21.

CDA Commissioner, Jamie L. Rhee

Chicago Made Music Showcase
Chicago Made Music Showcase

DCASE also supports artists and organizations by hiring them to perform, co-present, curate, and engage with audiences. In 2023, across hundreds of free cultural programs, we partnered with 100 organizations and provided $2.3 million in direct support to over 1,600 artists. 71% of these artists identified as Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC) and 61% of the organizations were BIPOC-centered.

The Department produced 25 residencies to provide space, time, and funding for artists and organizations to create new work and engage with the public—including the inaugural Millennium Park Residency Program made possible by the Millennium Park Foundation and Pritzker Foundation, which gave four grants of up to $150,000 to the Chicago Human Rhythm Project; National Public Housing Museum; Praize Productions, Inc.; and Puerto Rican Arts Alliance. The Chicago Cultural Center Dance Studio Residency made possible by the Walder Foundation and National Endowment for the Arts, supported two cohorts of 15 artists total. Dozens of other creatives were “in-residence” throughout the Chicago Cultural Center in 2023. And along with the Poetry Foundation and Chicago Public Library, we welcomed the inaugural Chicago Poet Laureate: avery r. young, who will receive an honorarium and resources to create new works and public programming across the city.

We are thrilled about the appointment of avery r. young as the first-ever Chicago Poet Laureate and cannot wait to collaborate with him on a range of exciting new programs and works that will enrich our neighborhood library branches. As we welcome avery in his new role, we are excited to witness the transformative power of poetry in our library branches and beyond.

CPL Commissioner Chris Brown

Investing in the Creative Economy

Investing in the Creative Economy

Nacirema Society, Goodman Theatre

Chicago is one of the greatest cities in the world for arts and culture—and our working artists generate millions in economic revenue for the city. But the performing arts community in Chicago, like countless others worldwide, endured immense challenges during the pandemic.

For the past three years, DCASE has held convenings with the arts community that have helped shape the City’s ongoing support of the sector through financial grants, new collaborations with philanthropy, marketing campaigns, and wrap-around supports for theater and other creative workers.

In 2023, the Department in partnership with SMU DataArts released Navigating Recovery: Arts and Culture Financial and Operating Trends in Chicago—a comprehensive report on the health of the local art sector before, during, and emerging from the pandemic. The report reveals that as Chicago’s economy has broadly seen steady progress toward a post-pandemic recovery, the nonprofit theater sector still faces many challenges.

In the summer, Mayor Johnson hosted a listening session with industry stakeholders, which led to a theater advisory committee—and then, in collaboration with Choose Chicago, the League of Chicago Theatres, and others, DCASE launched a marketing campaign claiming Fall as “Theater Season” in Chicago. Utilizing digital, radio, and out of home advertising, #TheaterSeason is a powerful call-to-action for locals and visitors, and part of the City’s multifaceted efforts to uplift the sector. We also produced a series of six videos spotlighting real audience members sharing their theater experiences.

For details, visit and

In this challenging time recovering from the pandemic, all these artists that bring the vibrancy of our stories to life and give us real shared experiences in community need our support. This initiative from Choose Chicago, Mayor Brandon Johnson, DCASE, and the League will help people remember the joy in coming together.

Marissa Lynn Jones, Executive Director of the League of Chicago Theatres

American Psycho, Kokandy Productions Evan Hanover
DCASE Variety Ad
DCASE Variety Ad

In 2023, the State of Illinois announced record-breaking economic impact of nearly $700 million in film expenditures, over 90% of which was driven by the City of Chicago and supported by the Chicago Film Office though permits, city services, and production support. Highly rated and award-winning episodic television series such as NBC’s One Chicago shows (Chicago Fire, Chicago PD, Chicago Med), The Bear, and others represented the largest portion these projects.

The Film Office, together with its partners the Illinois Film Office, World Business Chicago, Illinois Production Alliance, and others championed the industry through marketing campaigns such as a special features package in the “Oscars” edition of Variety and convened industry stakeholders to further bolster the industry. Projects like The Fields Studios, set to open in spring 2024, were announced with the support of City and State.

In May, the WGA announced a general strike with SAG-AFTRA following suit in July. Most scripted production was paused during a challenging 7-month stoppage which created economic hardship for thousands of creative workers while their unions pressed for more equitable contracts. During this time the Film Office and DCASE assembled Creative Workers Resources, helped launch the Chicago Alliance of Film Festivals along with FACETS to support Chicago’s vibrant and diverse ecosystem of 50+ film festivals, and launched advertising and sponsored content in AdAge with its partners to help lure more commercial production to the City and State. Commercial production is a major sector of film and TV that was not affected by the strikes.

With the return of production in December and the renewal of most all of Chicago’s long-running series as well as several new ones, Chicago is well-positioned to continue its rise as a major hub of production and original content. The Film Office convened subsectors of the industry and community to lay groundwork for new initiatives to support youth, independent filmmakers, and the film festival ecosystem as we enter 2024.

The Chicago Film Office additionally partnered with dozens of local festivals and arts organizations to present 39 film screenings and industry events attended by 50,000 people.

To learn more, visit

In the last decade we’ve had so much success and growth. Together with the Chicago Film Office, Illinois Film Office, and other partners, we’re building on the legacy that’s created a lot of tremendous television.

Christine Dudley, Executive Director of the Illinois Production Alliance (IPA)

Expanding Access and </span><span>Participation in the Arts

Expanding Access and Participation in the Arts

Chicago House Music Festival
  • World Music Festival Chicago: Global Peace Picnic
  • Chicago Blues Festival
  • Chicago City Markets
  • Chicago House Music Festival
  • Chicago Gospel Music Festival
  • Chicago Jazz Festival
  • Maxwell Street Market
  • 110th Annual Tree Lighting Ceremony

The independent venue scene in Chicago is known to be the best in the world, so we are proud to collaborate with DCASE to bring CIVL’s legacy of amazing performances to the Taste of Chicago’s Goose Island Stage this year.

Chicago Independent Venue League (CIVL) Executive Director Nick Heineman

Freedom Square: The Black Girlhood Altar
Freedom Square: The Black Girlhood Altar

2023 was a rebuilding year coming out of the pandemic, with increasingly more public programming throughout the year across the Chicago Cultural Center. Exhibitions showcased the best of our city’s vibrant arts and culture scene, as well as artistry from around the world. All told, DCASE attracted 300,000 visitors to 11 Chicago Cultural Center exhibitions and related programs. Highlights included:

  • Luftwerk: Exact Dutch Yellow (through January 29, 2023)
  • Giving Back: The Soul of Philanthropy Reframed and Exhibited (February 1—April 30, 2023)
  • Surviving the Long Wars: Reckon and Reimagine (March 12—July 2, 2023)
  • First Look: Artworks by the Inaugural Cohort of the CPS RE:ALIZE Early College Arts Program (April 24—May 12, 2023)
  • Exquisite Canvas: Mural Takeover by Cecilia Beaven, Miguel A. Del Real, and Anna Murphy (June 10—September 3, 2023)
  • Great Ideas of Humanity: One of a Series (September 5—December 31, 2023), presented with the Design Museum of Chicago
  • CAB 5: This is a Rehearsal (November 1, 2023—February 11, 2024), presented with the Chicago Architecture Biennial
  • Freedom Square: The Black Girlhood Altar (November 1, 2023—March 10, 2024), presented with A Long Walk Home

A new series of Open Houses and “Under the Dome” concerts at the Cultural Center welcomed even more Chicagoans and visitors alike—as did free film screenings, tours, talks, and dance programming.

To learn more, visit and

Mayor Brandon Johnson with Walgreens

Mayor Brandon Johnson with Walgreens

2023 Sources of Support

DCASE is grateful for the steadfast support of our partners. Our work is made possible by corporate, foundation, and government grants—as well as corporate sponsorships. In 2023, we received a transformational $6.8 million grant from the Mellon Foundation for the creation of eight new Chicago monuments; for details, visit All told, DCASE raised a total of $10.3 million in 2023, including City matching funds.

Corporate Sponsorships

  • 90.9fm WDCB
  • 93XRT
  • Capital One Commercial Bank
  • Capital Vacations
  • Chicago Jazz Publishing and Entertainment
  • Chicago Transit Authority
  • DownBeat
  • Eli’s Cheesecake Company
  • Goose Island Beer Company
  • Hawaiian Silky
  • Hilton Hotels & Resorts
  • Humana
  • Illinois Lottery
  • Inspiration 1390
  • Lifeway Foods
  • Millennium Garages
  • Mississippi Development Authority
  • Nature’s Bakery
  • NBC Chicago
  • Pepsi
  • Powering Chicago
  • Reser’s Fine Foods
  • Rosa’s Lounge
  • Royal Canin
  • The Boeing Company
  • UChicago Medicine
  • United States Army
  • United States Marine Corps
  • WBBM Newsradio 780AM and 105.9FM
  • WBEZ Chicago
  • WGN-TV
  • WLS-TV
  • Zespri Kiwi


$116.3 million

2023 Revenue

  • DCASE Operating Fund
  • Grants*
  • Fund 100 (General Fund)
  • General Obligation Bonds
  • Other
$116.3 million

2023 Budget

  • Salary & Benefits
  • Programming / Public Art
  • Cultural Grants*
  • Tourism Support*
  • Operations

*Includes carryover from 2022 ARP recovery funds

  • Coya Paz (Chair) Artistic Director, Free Street Theater
  • Blake-Anthony Johnson (Vice Chair) Chief Executive Officer, Chicago Sinfonietta
  • Alison Cuddy Writer and Curator
  • Amina J. Dickerson President, Dickerson Global Advisors
  • Juan Díes Co-Founder and Executive Director, Sones de México Ensemble
  • Bob Faust Owner, Faust and Special Projects Director, Nick Cave Studio
  • E. Brooke Flanagan Executive Director, Steppenwolf Theatre Company
  • Robert Gomez Owner, Subterranean/Beat Kitchen/Underbar and Co-Founder, Chicago Independent Venue League (CIVL)
  • Esther Grisham Grimm Executive Director, 3Arts
  • Tracie D. Hall Former Executive Director, American Library Association
  • Akilah S. Halley Executive Director, Marwen
  • Kevin Iega Jeff Creative Director, Deeply Rooted Productions
  • Josephine Lee President, Uniting Voices Chicago
  • Tonika Lewis Johnson Artist, Folded Map Project
  • Bill Michel Associate Vice President and Executive Director of UChicago Arts and the Reva and David Logan Center for the Arts, University of Chicago
  • Cesáreo J. Moreno Chief Curator and Visual Arts Director, National Museum of Mexican Art
  • Margaret C. Murphy-Webb Executive Director and Co-Founder, South Side Jazz Coalition
  • Claire C. Rice Executive Director, Arts Alliance Illinois
  • Silvia Rivera Business Strategist and Creative Industry Consultant
  • Paul J. Sznewajs Former CEO, Parliament
  • Vivian Teng Managing Director, Cinema/Chicago and the Chicago International Film Festival
  • Omar Torres-Kortright Executive Director, Segundo Ruiz Belvis Cultural Center
  • Kaoru Watanabe Associate Director, National Cambodian Heritage Museum and Killing Fields Memorial
  • Tanner Woodford Founder and Executive Director, Design Museum of Chicago
  • Debra Yepa-Pappan Co-Founder and Director of Exhibitions and Programs, Center for Native Futures
  • David Adams
  • Hibo Aden
  • Meghan Beals
  • Benjamin Branda*
  • Jennifer Brown
  • Nikki Butler
  • Elise Butterfield
  • Amanda Carlson
  • Sandra Carrera
  • James Castillo
  • Rogelio Cerritos
  • David Chavez
  • Deidre Edwards
  • Sonya Eldridge
  • Joseph Fonzino
  • Susan Friel
  • Vivian Garcia
  • Gabriel Godwin
  • Joanna Goebel
  • Betsey Grais
  • J.Mark Hackman
  • Zhenesse Heinemann
  • Neal Heitz
  • Nancy Herman
  • Christopher Hodges
  • Brea Howard*
  • Alicia Hughes
  • John Hundrieser
  • Rey Irizarry
  • Camille Jackson
  • Christine Jacob
  • Cheryl Johnson
  • Ebony Johnson
  • Henry Johnson
  • Thavary Krouch
  • Frayne Lewis
  • Katrina Linzy
  • Madeline Long
  • Maria Lopez
  • Greg Lunceford
  • Nathan Mason
  • Meida McNeal
  • Nina Melendez
  • Lionel Melgar
  • Justin Meng*
  • Michael Mikuta
  • Khayri Moss*
  • Yescenia Mota
  • Joshua Ojeda
  • Timothy Olson
  • Anita Owens
  • Julie Partynski
  • Maria Rosario Maryrose Pavkovic
  • Laura Reyes Brown
  • John Rich
  • Lydia Ross
  • Natalia Salazar
  • Daniel Schulman
  • Joshua Schwimer
  • Jessica Sigur
  • Maja Stachnik*
  • Janeth Stines
  • Brett Swinney
  • Mariam Thiam
  • Melissa Thomfohrda
  • Carlos Tortolero
  • Laura Trejo Lozano
  • Jose Vazquez
  • Tara Vock
  • Melanie Wang
  • Monica Wilczak
  • Tenisha Wilkins
  • Nora Zboril

  • *Student interns
  • DCASE Staff
  • DCASE Staff
  • DCASE Staff
  • DCASE Staff at Luftwerk, Woven Together
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