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Mission & History


What makes a city great? Around the world, cities each have their own identities and characteristics, histories and strengths. But all great cities value art and culture. As Chicagoans, we know this is true - for over 100 years we have maintained some of the world’s greatest arts and cultural institutions, and in our city of neighborhoods each boasts a unique and significant cultural scene.

Chicago is known for its spirit of innovation, hard work, generosity and collaboration. A reflection of this spirit, our city is fertile ground for young and emerging artists to take risks, experiment, and make art that speaks to the issues and questions of our time. These ambitious and innovative thinkers are critical to the vitality of Chicago, its institutions and its neighborhoods.  

The Chicago Artists Coalition (CAC) is committed to building a diverse community of artistic leaders who define the place of art and artists in our city's culture and economy. We do this by providing residencies, education, exhibitions, and other opportunities for artists and the arts community.

The Chicago Artists Coalition is a registered 501(c)3 nonprofit organization. All contributions and donations are tax deductible to the fullest extent of the law.


Over 40 years ago, CAC began as a small group of artists advocating for rights, support and visibility in the city’s cultural landscape and economy. Small in size but mighty in impact, CAC was critical to the formation of Chicago’s Department of Cultural Affairs, the development of Chicago Artists Month and the passing of the Percent for Art Ordinance.  The latter designates 1.33% of new construction or renovation budgets of public buildings to a public art fund dedicated to the commission, purchase and maintenance of public art in Chicago  

Since then, the organization has evolved and grown to meet the needs of Chicago’s artists, moved into the West Loop in 2011, and launched its groundbreaking residencies and professional development programs.  CAC was the first to offer a residency with a curatorial component (HATCH Projects) and is still one of the only residency programs that offer onsite studio space and a guarantee of a solo exhibition to its 10 BOLT residents.  Since then, 60 BOLT artists have had solo shows, 288 HATCH artists have participated in group shows, 2,950 artists have participated in professional development programs, and 24 curators have further developed their curatorial and exhibition making skills