3Arts Awards

The 3Arts Awards express our gratitude to Chicago’s artists for their indisputable contributions to the health and vibrancy of our city. Every year, ten artists who live and work in the six-county metropolitan area receive unrestricted $30,000 awards in dance, music, teaching arts, theater, and visual arts. Artists may use the award in any way that makes a difference to their lives and careers, including paying off debt, purchasing equipment, hiring collaborators, producing new work, and saving for the future.

We invite you to read two reports that compile reflections from artists who have received a 3Arts Award:

We thank our Award Partners and Community Award donors for their generosity in helping 3Arts support and advocate for local artists.

Selection Process

3Arts awardees are selected through a nomination and jury process. More than 100 artists are nominated annually by at least 35 anonymous local nominators--artists, curators, presenters, and advocates--who are acutely knowledgeable about the breadth of artists working in neighborhoods across the metropolitan area.

After the nominees have completed our online application process, five national, discipline-specific panels of jurors convene to select ten awardees from the applicant pool. 3Arts requires panelists to disclose conflicts of interest as part of the selection process. If a strong personal or professional relationship exists between a panelist and a nominated artist that might be an impediment to the integrity of the process, a full recusal from the discussion and vote is implemented.

In honor of the time and energy it takes to apply, all artists who submit an application will receive a $100 honorarium. 

We express our gratitude to this year's distinguished jury panelists



  • None

    Lurrie Bell

    Blues Guitarist

    Born in 1958, the son of famed blues harmonica player Carey Bell, Lurrie Bell picked up his father’s guitar at age of five and taught himself to play. He was clearly gifted. In addition, he grew up with many of …

  • None

    Sara Black

    Installation Artist Chandler Family Awardee

    Statement and Bio:

    I hold commitments as a visual artist, researcher, pedagogue, homeschooling parent, greenskeeper and environmental justice activist. My artwork uses durational processes of building, horticultural practices, and material transformation as a time-based method and diseased wood, ecosystem-specific trees/plants, …

  • None

    Leslie B. Dunner

    Conductor Northern Trust Artist

    Rated #1 by the Chicago Sun-Times for “Chicago’s best classical music/opera moments of 2013,” Leslie B. Dunner’s 2014-15 season includes another performances with the South Shore Opera Company’s fall production of Verdi’s opera, “La Traviata.”  Their 2013 performance of Still’s …

  • None

    David Leggett


    David moved to Chicago in 2003 after completing his Bachelor of Fine Arts from the Savannah College of Art and Design. He was greatly influenced by the Chicago Imagists, a group of representational artists whose work was known for its …

  • None

    Tanya Saracho


    Tanya was born in Sinaloa, México and is a playwright, actor, theater director, and TV writer (HBO's "Looking" and "Girls" and "Devious Maids"). She is currently the showrunner of the upcoming STARZ series "Pour Vida." Her plays have been produced …

  • None

    Michael Patrick Thornton


    Artistic director & co-founder of The Gift, Michael was most recently seen onstage in the Kennedy Center workshop of fellow Gift ensemble member Andrew Hinderaker’s Colossal and onstage at The Gift in the world premiere of Hinderaker’s Dirty. Previous …

2009 Judges

Aaron P. Dworkin
Tania León
Toni-Marie Montgomery
Susan V. Booth
John Killacky
Jackie Taylor
Visual Arts
Jose Luis Blondet
Clara Kim
Elizabeth A.T. Smith

More Award Years