Started in 2003, the Joyce Awards is the only regional program dedicated to supporting artists
of color in major Great Lakes cities. Since its inception, the competition has awarded nearly
$3.5 million to commission 65 new works and collaborations between artists and cultural or
community organizations in Chicago, Cleveland, Detroit, Indianapolis, Milwaukee and
Minneapolis-St. Paul. Each award of $50,000 supports an artist in the creation and production
of a new work and provides the commissioning organization with the resources needed to
engage potential audiences, new partners, and their surrounding communities at large.
Past Joyce Awards have spanned visual, performing, and multi-disciplinary arts and have
fostered exciting, new collaborations between artists and institutions. A distinct feature of
funded projects is the requirement that artists and host institutions include a robust
community engagement strategy in their project plan. In many of the awarded commissions,
this intensive interaction with community goes on to inform and shape the culminating
Letters of Intention (LOIs) for the Joyce Awards are accepted in early to mid-April. Full
proposals will be requested within 5-8 weeks of LOI receipt for projects that demonstrate
artistic merit, innovation, resonance with timely local or national themes or concerns, a plan
for community engagement and the likelihood of full execution within 18 months of receiving
A panel of artists and arts experts reviews the final field of applications and once winning
applicants are notified, their projects are publicized in December of every year.
Joyce Award Eligibility
Joyce Award proposals may be led by artists living and practicing anywhere in the world.
There is no restriction in regard to art discipline or medium. As Joyce Awards support the
commission of new works, an artist’s proposed project should not have moved past the
ideation stage. Hallmarks of past Joyce Award recipients include artists whose work:
• Demonstrates artistic excellence as well as new thinking or approaches while being
firmly grounded in the history and evolution of an art form and the discourse which
• Is as artistically and intellectually relevant as it is rigorous;
• Engages with and is informed by the stories and concerns of diverse communities; and
• Creates opportunities for community access and learning from the ideation stage
through the culminating production.
Arts and Community-based Organizations
Arts or community-based organizations physically located or doing substantial work in the
metropolitan areas of the six cities where Joyce Awards are made, may submit an application.
The most compelling applications have come from organizations that:
• Evidence the capacity to support an artist or group of artists through the commission
and presentation of an original art work;
• Are most likely to use the proposed project and collaboration with the prospective artist
to foster deeper connections with surrounding communities, existing and potential
institutional partners and local civic leadership;
• Display the ability to harness additional funds as needed to ensure a project’s
completion within an 18-month timeframe; and
• Can design and execute a robust community learning, engagement plan and audience
development strategy that will ensure the community’s awareness of and access to the
project from origination through completion.
Letters of Intention (Due April 12, 2020)
Letters of intention are the first step of the application process.
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