Chicago Artists Coalition
The Chicago Artists Coalition (CAC) is a 41-year old artist service organization dedicated to building a sustainable marketplace for entrepreneurial artists and creatives. Across its history, CAC has an impressive legacy of working directly with and on behalf of practicing artists to provide professional development training, exhibition opportunities, and advocacy. The organization was founded in 1974 by a group of artists who sought to create a better environment and future for the artistic community living and working in the Chicago area. In addition to supporting artists’ career development, CAC was instrumental in the establishment of the Chicago Department of Cultural Affairs, proved vital in advocating for the Percent for Art Bill, helped found Chicago Artists Month, and was directly involved in the creation of Arts Alliance Illinois.
CAC has achieved tremendous growth in its programs and operations, leading it to establish a reputation as one of the city’s primary organizations in the advancement of Chicago’s role as a cultural capital. In 2011, CAC relocated to the West Loop, home to many of the city’s leading contemporary art galleries and exhibition spaces. The 8,000 square foot facility houses an exceptional gallery and programming space, administrative offices, and nine workspace studios for artists in residence. In 2012, CAC acquired the Chicago Artists Resource website (known as CAR) from the Chicago Department of Cultural Affairs & Special Events. The addition of CAR to CAC’s initiatives fulfills important strategic goals for the organization, including serving artists in multiple disciplines, advancing opportunities and training for creative entrepreneurship, and positioning CAC for national growth.
CAC emerged as the leading nonprofit to acquire CAR because of its historic commitment to and expertise in empowering individual practicing artists through innovative programming, education and resources. CAR is designed as a unique hybrid of community-contributed and staff-curated content intended to connect, educate and empower practicing artists and the wider arts community. On average, more than 30,000 unique visitors use the site each month, especially for its Jobs and Calls for Work sections, as well as its growing output of artist interviews, articles, educational resources, and more. Under CAC’s management, CAR is expanding to operate as the leading online platform for entrepreneurial creatives across Chicago and beyond. Its integration alongside other programmatic initiatives significantly strengthens CAC’s services to artists, their career development and the vitality of Chicago’s creative economy.
CAC’s core programs provide educational training, exhibition/residency initiatives and marketplace building for artists and a diverse arts public. A.B.C (Art.Business.Create) is a professional development program that equips artists with the tools to build and sustain successful careers in the arts. BOLT Residency is a competitive, year-long program that provides up to eleven artist residents with dedicated studio space, a solo exhibition, one-on-one studio visits with leading arts professionals, and community-building. HATCH Projects is a competitive, year-long residency for emerging artists and curators who collectively produce group exhibitions in CAC’s main gallery throughout the year. The Chicago Artists Resource (CAR) website is a comprehensive online platform that connects, educates and empowers artists and the arts community. Collectors Circle is a special membership level and event series dedicated to building a community of emerging and established collectors who share a strong interest in supporting Chicago art. As part of this series, CAC produces the annual EDITION Chicago satellite art fair each September, focusing on providing both artists and collectors an accessible entry point to the art market. Through a Special Projects initiative, CAC partners with businesses and other organizations to facilitate commissions and opportunities for artists. Examples include installing permanent murals in the 1871 technology incubator; organizing art competitions and exhibitions with Groupon, Chicago Art Loop Alliance, and Taste of Chicago; and facilitating commissions in retail/hotel developments in collaboration with Gensler.