Chicago Dancemakers Forum elevates the field of dance by being a catalyst for the artistic and professional growth of dancemakers, providing time and resources for in-depth exploration and creation. Through robust interaction among dancemakers and with the public, Chicago Dancemakers Forum builds broad support and appreciation for Chicago’s diverse dance communities. 



Chicago Dancemakers Forum is the only organization in Chicago dedicated solely to nurturing artistic advancement in dancemaking; it is also the single largest source of support for individual choreographers in the city with an open call process.


Chicago Danceakers Forum launched in 2003 as a demonstration project of the Chicago Community Trust’s “Excellence in Dance Initiative.” The initiative responded directly to groundbreaking studies that identified the clear need for multi-layered support for Chicago choreographers. From its beginning,  has been communally held. Leaders from three of Chicago’s dance incubating and presenting institutions (The Dance Center of Columbia College Chicago, Museum of Contemporary Art, and Links Hall) came together to design and nurture the project. The Chicago Community Trust supplied generous seed funding for the first three years. Since then, Chicago Dancemakers Forum has strategized and successfully funded the program through a variety of sources. Chicago Dancemakers Forum launched its Breakout Campaign in late 2013 to raise $1,000,000 to support its signature Lab Artists grants for a multi-year period. 


For its first decade Chicago Dancemakers Forum flourished as an unincorporated initiative fostered and fiscally sponsored by its consortium leadership. In 2014, the organization gained 501c3 incorporation through a strong, deliberate and carefully considered process. That year, the organization also expanded the consortium to a total of six institutions with the goals of reaching more of Chicago’s geography and engaging a more diverse pool of artists.


Dance matters. Dance is integral to our collective cultures. It is a core human expression that transforms us, generates wonder, and furthers honest

connection and understanding.

The artist is at the center. Artists are the bedrock of our creativity as a society. Their best work is enabled by support structures that are sensitive

and tailored specifically to them.

Process is as valuable as product. Creative inquiry promotes innovation and embraces the concept that productive failure can spur growth.

An inclusive arts community is the only option. Chicago Dancemakers Forum welcomes and celebrates all forms of dance. It aspires to build community through inclusion and a culture of equity at all levels of activity.

Chicago has a rich and thriving dance ecosystem. Its dancemakers and dance communities merit increased support and greater recognition locally,

nationally, and internationally.

Collaboration activates change. Chicago Dancemakers Forum's strength is that it is jointly held and governed by a consortium that includes institutions, dancemakers, funders, and others who support Chicago Dancemakers Forum because of its crucial role in advancing the vitality of dance in Chicago.

Zachary Whittenburg