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The MacArthur Foundation Gave All Its Awards This Year To 14 Chicago Arts Organizations

By Mae Rice in Arts & Entertainment on Feb 18, 2016 10:20PM

'Title and Deed' at Lookingglass Theatre, one of the MacArthur recipients

This year, for the first time, the MacArthur Foundation has awarded all of its annual MacArthur Awards for Creative & Effective Institutions to arts organizations in one city: Chicago.

All told, the foundation gave grants to 14 local arts and culture organizations with focuses including film, theater, opera, jazz and more. All told, it amounts to an influx of more than $6 million into the city’s art scene.

The MacArthur Award, given out for the first time in 2006, has historically gone to organizations all over the world. The shift to a city-specific focus “reflects our enduring commitment to Chicago and to its cultural life that enriches us all,” said MacArthur President Julia Stasch. (Relevant: The MacArthur Foundation is based in Chicago.)

The largest grant recipients were Lookingglass Theatre, which got $1 million, and Young Chicago Authors—a non-profit for focused on youth literacy and self-expression that puts on poetry festival Louder Than a Bomb—which took home $625,000.

These grants are not meant to go towards sexy new initiatives, but instead towards sustaining these organizations long-term. Young Chicago Authors, for instance, will use its grant “to increase its operating reserve and upgrade its technology and equipment,” according to the MacArthur site.

“The critical nature of moving image preservation so often goes unnoticed, giving way to other cultural pursuits and leaving history behind as something merely built on nostalgia,” said Chicago Film Archives' executive director Nancy Watrous. “Recognizing that moving images offer a glimpse into the future as well as the past is rare. So we are doubly thankful that the MacArthur Foundation is throwing light on this often over-shadowed cultural endeavor.”

The rest of the grant recipients are theater company The Hypocrites, South Side community art center Hyde Park Art Center, A Red Orchid Theatre, Chicago Jazz Philharmonic, Chicago Opera Theater, Chicago Sinfonietta, Eighth Blackbird, Links Hall and Lucky Plush Productions.