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


  • A Black woman with Glasses and a hat with jewels hanging over the forehead leans against a chair with her arm resting on it.

    Sophia Nahli Allison

    Documentary Filmmaker Southwest Airlines Awardee

    Sophia Nahli Allison is an Academy Award® nominated filmmaker, photographer, and artist.

    As a black queer radical dreamer, she reimagines the archives by excavating hidden truths. A meditation of the spirit, her work conjures ancestral memories, mysticism, and abstraction to …

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    Brandi Berry Benson

    Instrumentalist Gertrude E. Grisham Awardee

    Violinist and 3Arts awardee Brandi Berry Benson, whose "four-string acrobatics" and "indispensable skill" (TimeOut Chicago) have been praised as "alert [and] outstanding" (Chicago Classical Review), as her "riffs.. powered by a flashing blur of bow arm, …

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    Irina Botea Bucan

    Film/Performance/Installation Artist Chandler Family Awardee

    Over the past ten years Irina Botea Bucan has been engaged in an art practice that uses multiple media to inspect socio-political dynamics and the possibility of transformation. Currently, her focus is on the de centralization of cultural discourses and …

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    Sylvia Hernandez-DiStasi

    Circus Choreographer

    Sylvia Hernandez-DiStasi is a second-generation circus acrobat who grew up performing with various circuses across the country. Highlights of her performing career include touring with the Ringling Brothers and Barnum & Bailey Circus and competing in the Circus World Championships …

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    Darrell Jones

    Dancer Denise and Gary Gardner Awardee

    Darrell Jones has performed in the United States and abroad with a variety of choreographers and companies such as Bebe Miller, Urban Bush Women, Ronald K. Brown, Min Tanaka, and Ralph Lemon.

    Along with performing, Darrell is a choreographer and …

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    Carlos Mejia


    Carlos Mejía is a 2014 3Arts Awardee, a master musician, a mentor of young musicians, and a cultural activist specializing in Mayan culture, the Guatemalan marimba, and other instruments. He was born in the Maya K'iche' (or Quiche) community of …

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    Erica Mott

    Choreographer McCormick Family Foundation Awardee

    Erica Mott is a former researcher and international development worker turned actor, choreographer, and director. As a performance maker and cultural organizer, she utilizes body based forms (movement/song/realtime action with objects) in immersive environments and extensive cross-disciplinary collaborations to transform …

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    Samuel G. Roberson Jr.

    Theater Artist Siragusa Foundation Awardee

    In memoriam (December 17, 1982 - May 21, 2017):

    Upon graduating from Howard University, Samuel G. Roberson Jr. took a leap of faith and accepted an apprenticeship at The Children’s Theatre of Minneapolis, where he spent the next three years …

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    Calamity West

    Playwright Merrill Lynch Awardee

    Calamity West is a Chicago-based, award-winning playwright and screenwriter. Her plays have appeared at Williamstown Theatre Festival, Roundabout, The Goodman Theatre, Jackalope Theatre, Steep Theatre, Victory Gardens, and TimeLine – to name a few. She holds a BA in dramatic …

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    Amanda Williams

    Painting/Installation/Photography Next Level Spare Room & Stan Lipkin and Evelyn Appell Lipkin Awardee

    Amanda Williams is a visual artist who trained as an architect. Williams’ creative practice employs color as a way to draw attention to the complexities of race, place, and value in cities. The landscapes in which she operates are the …

2014 Judges

Mario Garcia Durham
Margaret Jenkins
Julie Nakagawa
Nicole Cherry
Jim Hirsch
Byron Au Yong
Teaching Arts
Lisa Yun Lee
Lynn Johnson
Philip Yenawine
Christine Bruno
Emilya Cachapero
Runako Jahi
Visual Arts
Linda Earle
Gia M. Hamilton
Stephanie Whitlock

More Award Years