Propeller Fund was launched in 2010 and is jointly administered by Gallery 400 and Threewalls with generous funding from the Andy Warhol Foundation. Propeller Fund awards $50,000 per year to artists and groups for collaborative, public-oriented, artist-led projects that are independent and self-organized. The awards range in amounts from $1,000 to $6,000 and are disbursed in direct funds to projects. Additionally, the Research and Development grant was developed in 2016 and awards range from $1,000 to $2,000 and are intended for projects that require initial funding to determine need and feasibility.
In March 2020, around the time that Propeller Fund’s application was planned to go live, the gravity of the COVID-19 pandemic became apparent in Chicago as we entered a city-wide shutdown. Anticipating the financial hardships that artists and creators would be facing in the coming months, Propeller Fund adapted for the year into the Propeller IMPACT Fund (PIF). In order to reach as many people as possible, the team decided to adapt their funding model to distribute $500 grants to Chicagoland artists. In April, June, August, and October, the PIF applications went live for a three-day period and applicants were selected through a lottery system while maintaining the confidentiality of those who received funds. Over these four rounds, a total of $56,000 was distributed.
All artists were encouraged to apply with priority consideration given to communities that have been most affected by the pandemic, including ALAANA artists (African descent, Latinx, Arab, Asian, Native American), d/Deaf and disabled artists, LGBTQ2SIA artists, and gender non-conforming and non-binary artists. As of December 2020, we are facing an unprecedented number of COVID cases and continued uncertainty as to what financial aid may be made available. The aim of the Propeller IMPACT Fund adaptation was to bring extra funds to as many people as possible with the allocated funding already in place for traditional Propeller Fund grants. We are grateful for this opportunity to have adapted our traditional artist granting program into one that has served our Chicagoland community for its most immediate needs in the face of unprecedented financial uncertainty and hardship.
Image attribution: Zakkiyyah Najeebah; Concerned Black Image Makers; G’Jordan Williams; Tonika L. Johnson