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.

Profiles of all 3Arts Awards recipients are accessible further below on this page, or download an awardee list in PDF here.

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 the most recent jury panelists


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    Marta Garcia

    Visual Artist Stan Lipkin & Evelyn Appell Lipkin Awardee
    Marta Garcia received a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree from the New World School of the Arts in Miami, FL with a concentration in Theater. After graduation she founded Akropolis Acting Company. As the Artistic Director, her company received recognition …
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    Mierka Girten

    Mierka Girten was last seen in SIMPATICO at A Red Orchid Theatre where she is a proud ensemble member. Off-Broadway, she was seen in MISTAKES WERE MADE with Michael Shannon and Sam Deutsch at the Barrow Street Theater. Other credits …
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    Lisa Kaplan


    Born in Motown, Lisa Kaplan is a pianist specializing in the performance of new work by living composers. Kaplan is also the founding pianist of the four-time Grammy Award-winning sextet Eighth Blackbird. She has won numerous awards, performed all …

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    Irena Knezevic

    Multidisciplinary Artist Chandler Family Awardee
    Irena Knezevic is a Serbian artist working in various visual art formats, music, and architecture. She has performed and exhibited her work in solo projects at Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago; threewalls, Chicago; White Columns, New York; Massachusetts Institute of …
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    Ronnie Kuller


    Ronnie Kuller is a Chicago-based composer, arranger, pianist, and accordionist. Some highlights of her musical career: playing accordion onstage with the Joffrey Ballet, collaborating with the Chicago Sinfonietta, and performing regularly as the piano accompanist for Mister Tom Musick. She …

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    Michel Rodriguez

    Dancer McCormick Family Foundation Awardee
    Michel Rodriguez was born in Havana, Cuba and graduated from the Cuban National School of Art in 2003. He began dancing as a company member of Danza Contemporanea de Cuba in 2003 and became a principal dancer in 2006 participating …
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    Vershawn Sanders-Ward

    Choreographer Southwest Airlines Awardee

    Vershawn Sanders-Ward is a movement artivist, and Founder and Artistic Director of Red Clay Dance Company based in Chicago, IL. A native of Chicago, Sanders-Ward holds a MFA in Dance from New York University and a BFA in Dance from Columbia …

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    Robert Schleifer

    Actor Siragusa Foundation Awardee

    Robert Schleifer has worked as a teaching artist and an actor. He has had the privilege of teaching his classes and workshops all over the world including several renewed Opera Programs in Austria and Italy. He has taught at Act …

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    Kelli Simpkins

    Actor Merrill Lynch Awardee

    Kelli Simpkins (she/they) is a theater, film, and television artist whose career has spanned thirty years. They are dedicated to telling stories often excluded from the mainstream that focus on class, queerness, disenfranchisement, and ‘the other.’ They are a company …

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    Cauleen Smith

    Experimental Filmmaker Lydia Yun Lee & Lisa Yun Lee Awardee

    Cauleen Smith is an interdisciplinary artist whose work reflects upon the everyday possibilities of the imagination. Operating in multiple materials and arenas, Smith roots her work firmly within the discourse of mid-twentieth-century experimental film. Drawing from structuralism, third world cinema, …

2013 Judges

Bonnie Brooks
Rosemary Johnson
Ivan Sygoda
Bau Graves
Dr. Nick John Demos
Trevor Weston
Teaching Arts
Miguel Aguilar
Nick Jaffe
Ellen B. Rudolph
Victoria Lewis
Vincent Murphy
Sacha Yanow
Visual Arts
Anjee Helstrup-Alvarez
Kianga Ford
Chuck Thurow

More Award Years