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3Arts Awards program granting nearly $1 million to artists to be streamed virtually

3Arts, the Chicago-based nonprofit grantmaking organization, will award Chicago artists with nearly $1 million in unrestricted cash grants during the 14th annual 3Arts Awards, taking place virtually on Monday, November 1, from 6 to 7 p.m. Central live on YouTube. The virtual event is free to the public and features three world premiere performances by past 3Arts awardees. Registration is required at

Since 2007, 3Arts has supported more than 1,200 artists—representing 70 percent women artists, 67 percent artists of color, and 14 percent Deaf and disabled artists—and distributed $4.5 million in grants and services. On November 1, 3Arts will be awarding 134 artists including:

Ten 3Arts Awards recipients who will receive $30,000 in cash grants. One hundred and twenty-one artists selected by past 3Arts awardees will receive $4,000 each in unrestricted grants, through a major one-time expansion to Make a Wave—3Arts’ artist-to-artist grant program—with support from Make a Wave Presenting Partner The Joyce Foundation, sending a bigger “wave” than ever through Chicago’s cultural core.

TOP FROM LEFT: Charles “Poppin Chuck” Bledsoe, Lili-Anne Brown, Caitlin Edwards, Andrés L. Hernandez and Emily Hooper Lansana. BOTTOM FROM LEFT: Andrés Lemus-Spont, Cat Mahari, Shanta Nurullah, David Rhee and Derrick Woods-Morrow.

Recipients of the second annual 3Arts Next Level/Spare Room Award—a $50,000 unrestricted cash award given to three women visual artists who are past awardees. These announcements —together with $230,000 in emergency relief grants given to 3Arts artists in 2021—make this the largest award year in 3Arts history.

“Our annual celebration is a call for our community to give more, do more, advocate more, and invest more in the creative heart of our city,” said executive director Esther Grisham Grimm.

By providing cash awards, project funding and other assistance, 3Arts helps artists take risks, experiment, and build momentum in their careers. To elevate this year’s awards, 3Arts commissioned three world premieres spotlighting the work of recent awardees. The 2021 3Arts Awards will continue 3Arts’ new tradition of sharing event donations with a local arts organization. This year’s co-beneficiary is Free StreetTheater.

3Arts will also celebrate the “Make a Wave” program, in which the previous year’s 3Arts awardees select 10 Chicago artists to receive surprise grants. Thanks to a $500,000 grant from The Joyce Foundation, and continuing support from the Siragusa Family Foundation and the Reva & David Logan Foundation, this year, all artists who received a 3Arts Award since 2008 have selected a record-breaking 121 “Make a Wave” grant recipients who will receive $4,000 grants, doubling the usual $2,000 amount.

The recipients of the 2021 3Arts Awards are:

DANCE: Charles “Poppin Chuck” Bledsoe, 3Arts Awardee: Bledsoe is a dance and visual artist who exemplifies the definition of a true school innovator. His natural talent for Locking and Popping has earned him great respect among prominent street dance communities in both Chicago and Los Angeles.

Cat Mahari, 3Arts/Walder Foundation Awardee: Mahari’s practice stems from a vast archive of research and physical training with the intent of manifesting a grammar of liberation via video and live performance.

MUSIC: Caitlan Edwards, 3Arts/-Walder Foundation Awardee: Edwards began studying the violin at the age of 8 through the Music Opportunity Program in her hometown of Birmingham, Alabama. She is currently a mentor with the Chicago Musical Pathways Initiative.

Shanta Nurullah, 3Arts/SIF Fund at The Chicago Community Foundation Awardee in honor of Samuel G. Roberson Jr.: Nurullah makes music primarily on sitar, bass, and mbira (African thumb piano), and works as a storyteller and teaching artist. She has been performing professionally as a musician since 1972 and as a storyteller since 1978.

TEACHING ARTS: Emily Hooper Lansana, 3Arts/BMO Harris Bank Community Awardee: Hooper Lansana is a community builder, storyteller, arts administrator, and educator. For more than 30 years, she has sought to give voice to those whose stories are often untold, especially those of the African Diaspora.

Andrés Lemus-Spont, 3Arts/- HMS Fund Awardee: Lemus-Spontisadesigner, educator, fabricator and proud child of Mexican immigrants. He teaches art and architecture to youth from kindergarten through high school.

THEATER: Lili-Anne Brown, 3Arts/-Stan Lipkin & Evelyn Appell Lipkin Awardee: Brown, a native South Sider, works as a director, actor, and educator, and has performed in, directed, and produced many local and regional award-winning shows.

David Rhee, 3Arts/Reva & David Logan Foundation Awardee: Rhee began his career as an actor after graduating from New York’s Circle in the Square Musical Theatre program. Since then, he appeared on Broadway and numerous theaters across America.

VISUAL ARTS: Andres L. Hernandez, 3Arts/Chandler Family Awardee: Hernandez is an interdisciplinary practitioner engaged in discovering, recovering, and uncovering the histories, politics, and possibilities of the built environment. He is the Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago’s inaugural and current SPACE artist-in-residence at Curie Metropolitan High School, among other affiliations.

Derrick Woods-Morrow, 3Arts/ Gary & Denise Gardner Fund Awardee: Woods-Morrow’s work is a meditation on deviation and disruption, on language and representation, and on growing up in the American South. He is a member of the Chicago-based collective, Concerned Black Image Makers, and is on the Board of Directors at the Fire Island Artist Residency.

For more information and complete bios on the awardees, visit

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