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Application for MAKER Grant 2018 has closed. Please check back in February 2019 for updated guidelines and application form. Information remains on this page for reference only.

The MAKER Grant Program is an annual, unrestricted award opportunity for Chicago-based contemporary visual artists who demonstrate a commitment to a sustainable artistic practice and career development.

MAKER grants recognize that Chicago is home to a unique and thriving ecology of engaged and socially-conscious makers, who often work outside of traditional forms or without commercial support. MAKER grants, therefore, endeavor to honor these artists whose work actively engages with social issues—with an eye towards using the strategies, beauty, and meaning of art-making for positive change.

MAKER Grant Program’s unrestricted awards of one at $5,000 and two at $3,000 are intended to recognize exceptional emerging artists working in Chicago, and support the advancement of their artistic careers. The program, founded in 2013, serves the Chicago Artists Coalition’s mission of supporting local artists’ practices and professional development.

MAKER Grant | Coney Family Fund Award 

The Coney Family Fund Award grants $5,000 to one outstanding Black or African-American artist who demonstrates a commitment to a sustainable artistic practice and career development. This award is made possible by the generosity of sponsor Lester N. Coney and the Coney Family. Launched in 2017, this award recognizes the Coney Family and CAC’s mutual commitments to supporting a diverse and inclusive arts community and creative economy in Chicago. 

About the Coney Family
Les Coney is the Executive Vice President in Mesirow Financial’s Office of the Chairman. As a civic leader, Les has been actively involved in many organizations in support of the arts, civic betterment, and minority and ethnic issues. In his philanthropy and as an art collector, Les has focused on supporting artists of color and improving racial equity and inclusion in the Chicago art community. The Coney Family Fund Award is also stewarded by Les’ children, Chanel and Javon Coney. Chanel is the Director of Marketing for Chicago Fundamental Invesment Partners, LLC and the board chair of Congo Square Theater. Chanel has a personal background in theater performance, and also sits on the board of 3Arts. Javon Coney currently lives in New York City, where he is an aide to Mayor Bill DeBlasio. Javon formerly worked for an advance team in the West Wing of the White House during the Obama administration.

MAKER Grant | OtherPeoplesPixels Awards

The OtherPeoplesPixels Awards grant two $3,000 awards to recognize two exceptional artists whose work actively engages with social or environmental issues. These awards are funded by a portion of proceeds from the Chicago Artists Coalition’s annual fundraiser, WORK IN PROGRESS, and a matching contribution from OtherPeoplesPixels. MAKER Grant recognizes both the CAC’s and OPP’s mutual commitments to supporting local artists’ practices and professional development.

About OtherPeoplesPixels
OtherPeoplesPixels is a portfolio website service designed for artists by artists—and is dedicated to helping artists and cultural makers share their creative work with the world. Founded in 2005, OPP has remained an independently run, triple-bottom line company, and continues to support arts, environmental & social justice initiatives through The OtherPeoplesPixels Fund and initiatives like the MAKER Grant.



In addition to financial support, MAKER Grant awardees receive:

  • Published interviews and promotion through CAC and award sponsor communications.
  • A one-year CAC artist membership.
  • ‘Lifetime’ OPP portfolio exceptional services.
  • Two tickets to attend CAC’s WORK IN PROGRESS fundraiser on Thursday, June 7, 2018.  Winners will be recognized during the VIP Reception.


In 2018, this grant is open to visual artists who meet the following criteria:

  • Artists who can show that they are at a defining moment to achieve growth in their creative and professional careers.
  • Artists who demonstrate a strong and active engagement with, and professional commitment to, their artistic practice.
  • Artists whose work as cultural makers impacts the development of art and culture in a meaningful way.
  • For OtherPeoplesPixels Awards: Artists whose work actively engages with social and/or environmental issues, with an eye towards positive change.​


Applicants must be:

  • A U.S. citizen or legal resident.
  • A resident of the Chicagoland region (includes outlying suburbs within a 30 mile radius of Chicago).
  • At least 21 years old.
  • NOT currently enrolled in a degree-granting program or its equivalent.
  • NOT an applicant or collaborator on more than one proposed project.
  • For Coney Family Fund Award: Individuals who identify as Black or African-American. 


Submissions are evaluated by a jury of three professional peers from leading cultural institutions in Chicago, as well as representatives from the Chicago Artists Coalition, the Coney Family, and OtherPeoplePixels.

Applications for MAKER Grant are currently closed. Please check back in February 2019 for updated information. Information remains on this page for reference only.

2018 Jury

Christopher Audain, Program Officer, Alphawood Foundation
Elizabeth Corr, Manager of Art Partnerships, National Resources Defense Council
Nikki Patin, Community Arts Engagement Manager, Arts + Public Life, University of Chicago
Lorelei Stewart, Director, Gallery 400, School of Art & Art History, College of Architecture, Design & the Arts, University of Illinois-Chicago

March 19: Application opens
April 29: Application closes at 11:59 PM
April 30 - May 25: Jury deliberations
June 7: Grantees announced at CAC's Annual Benefit, WORK IN PROGRESS

For questions, contact Teresa E. Silva, Director of Exhibitions & Residencies:

Image (left to right): Caroline Older, CAC Executive Director; Chanel Coney, Sponsor; Rhonda Wheatley, 2017 Coney Family Fund Award recipient