Propeller Fund recognizes that small, self-organized operations constitute a large catalyst for the creative activity and vitality of the Chicago visual art world. These projects are responsible for much of the complexity and richness in the art community.

From artist organized events, informal roundtables and workshops, collectively organized exhibition spaces, and publishing endeavors, a large number of the activities that actively sustain Chicago's artists are informal, anti-institutional, or inconsistent in public presentation. These three attributes simultaneously fuel projects and disqualify them from traditional funding sources.

Propeller Fund exists to stimulate the growth of independent cultural production throughout Chicago; to encourage more varied models; to spread artistic activities into more diverse areas; to promote the public's interaction with and public recognition of such activities of our city; and to spark ambitions beyond current formats.

Launched in 2010, Propeller Fund is jointly administered by Gallery 400 and Threewalls, and funded through the generosity of the Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts. As of October 2017, Propeller Fund has awarded $400,000 in grant money since its inception.

To find out how you can support Propeller Fund, contact us:


Propeller Fund awards $50,000 per year to artists and groups for collaborative, public-oriented, artist-led projects that are independent and self-organized. Monetary awards—in amounts ranging from $1,000 to $6,000 are disbursed in direct funds to projects. Applicants are encouraged to request the amount that is needed to accomplish their project, up to $6,000. The aim of all grants is to ensure that each project will reach completion and has the resources to live up to its ambitions.

Initiated in 2016, Research & Development grants of $1,000 - $2,000 may be awarded based on applicant need, funds available, and jury determination. R&D grants are intended for projects that require initial funding to determine need and feasibility, allowing for early experimentation and additional research to fully inform the ultimate project proposal. 


Visual artists and collectives located in Cook County, IL, are eligible to apply. All collective projects must identify a "Lead Artist" that resides in Cook County, IL, in order for their project to be eligible. More than 50% of project collaborators or collective members should also reside in Cook County, IL.

Previously funded Propeller Fund grantees are eligible to re-apply. Meaning, new projects or new programs of ongoing projects are eligible for consideration. Please, briefly describe the need for further funding as it relates to growth and/or the extension of the project at the beginning of your project description, before going into further detail.

501(c)3 organizations, incorporated businesses, and students currently enrolled in a graduate or undergraduate program are not eligible for Propeller Fund grants.

What types of projects are eligible?

Visual arts projects that are: Artist-led // Independent // Self-organized // Collaborative // Public // Long or Short-term // Unconventional

Examples include:

  • A public event, performance, or intervention

  • A site-specific or public art project

  • A new exhibition or exhibition series

  • A screening, lecture, broadcast, or workshop series

  • Publications, including printed matter and online writing

  • Public programs of an artist residency

  • Collaborative projects between the visual arts and other disciplines

  • The ongoing work of an independent arts venue or collective

What types of projects are not eligible?

  • Projects not led by an artist 
  • Projects proposed by a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization
  • Curatorial projects that are not artist-led or collaborative/experimental in format or presentation
  • Projects proposed by students
  • Projects proposed by incorporated businesses
  • Projects in which the lead artist/organizer lives outside of Cook County
  • Projects in which all artists/organizers reside outside of Cook County
  • Projects that do not have a public component (i.e., projects which do not involve the public via process, production, or presentation)
  • Projects that are not accessible and presented to the public
  • Projects that are carried out by an individual or collective as a single author of the project
  • Proposals for the express purpose of: renting studio space, professional development (classes, services), travel expenses, the purchase or rental of equipment, or hiring of services not otherwise associated with a public project that meets the above criteria
For more information, read the Propeller Fund FAQs or contact Propeller Fund administrators at 
Propeller Fund