The Chicago Dancemakers Forum knows how fruitful a partnership with The Chicago Community Trust can be. After all, CDF was born out of the Trust’s Excellence in Dance Initiative, a project that sought to strengthen dance in metropolitan Chicago from 2001 to 2005. The organization received seed money from the Trust for its first three years.
CDF awards grants and provides professional support to breakout choreographers every year to help them create significant new works. The program not only supplies the funds to develop and stage their productions, but it also connects them with peers who provide guidance and collegial support.
“It’s really good as an artist to have feedback. It can become very isolating if you’re just getting feedback from your dancers. That’s not always enough,” says Victoria Bradford, part-time director for CDF. “Sometimes you need an outside eye or you need someone else who you’re not working with to give you perspective.”
Over the last 10 years, CDF has awarded grants to 41 choreographers, bolstering the Chicago dance community with dynamic, diverse works and a stronger pool of choreographers and dancers. Grant recipients include Lane Alexander, co-founder and director of the Chicago Human Rhythm Project, the oldest and largest presenter of American tap dance concerts and educational forums in the United States, and Margi Cole, artistic director of the Dance COLEctive, a contemporary dance company that supports emerging dancers.
Now, CDF has embarked on a fundraising campaign to continue nurturing the artistic growth of Chicago’s most innovative choreographers.
“We chose a donor advised fund at the Trust because the Trust is a really experienced, grounded, community-focused organization,” says Ginger Farley, a member of the consortium that leads CDF.
The Trust now handles the campaign’s important financial administrative tasks, provides professional investment management and accepts complex gifts such as stocks and real estate on behalf of CDF—a vital service for a small organization seeking to raise $1 million to sustain itself for the next 10 years.
“One of the things that’s great about the donor advised fund for the Chicago Dancemakers Forum is that it provides that back-office support without increasing our overhead and taking any more money away from the artists,” Farley says.
While the services the Trust provides for CDF is valuable, CDF also partnered with the Trust because of its deep-rooted commitment to the cultural vibrancy of the Chicago region. “We started here,” reflects Farley. “It seemed poetic and just right to come back home.”