What the Donnelley Foundation is Doing for Film in Chicago

With a strict program focus on land conservation and artistic vitality and a strict geographic focus on the Chicago area and the Lowcountry of South Carolina, the Gaylord and Dorothy Donnelley Foundation is a highly specialized funder with about $168 million in assets. But recently, the foundation has been making news for its support of film in Chicago.

Funding for film professionals in the city can be hard to come by. So here are a couple of examples of Donnelley support and ways you can tap into this resource:

Chicago Film Archives

The Donnelley Foundation recently awarded a grant to the Chicago Film Archives for $34,500 to digitize the remainder of the Ruth Page Dance Collection. This collection features dance rehearsals and performances dating back to 1922 and include footage of Rudolph Nureyev after his defection from the Soviet Union, Balinese dances from a 1928 Asian tour, and Merry Widow’s performances on the Ed Sullivan Show. The National Endowment for the Arts began funding this project, and Donnelley picked up the slack. Donnelley has also helped this organization create a searchable database, making over 70 collections accessible.

Chicago Academy of Sciences/Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum

The Donnelley Foundation also awarded a $35,000 grant to the Chicago Academy of Sciences and the Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum to help preserve the over 1,300 films created by the academy staff. Since the films' original metal and cardboard containers were causing them to deteriorate, these funds helped to rehouse them with quality archival materials. The Chicago Sun-Times Charity Trust and individual donors kicked in as well.


So if these recent film grants are any indication of Donnelley’s overall support for film in Chicago, historical film preservation is definitely a greater foundation priority than new projects from emerging videographers. So while local film professionals may be drawn to the Donnelley’s Artistic Vitality grantamking program, you should also take a look at the Collections Grant Opportunities if you have a historic angle.

Chicago-focused collections have also seen support for art, artifacts, letters, photographs, maps, and books, as long as they illuminate the unique culture, history and heritage of the region. In contrast, Artistic Vitality grants focus on the types of artistic expression that nurture the human spirit and imagination. This mostly comes in the form general operating support for professional arts organizations to help build capacity, build audiences, and increase public access.

Related: Gaylord and Dorothy Donnelley Foundation: Chicago Grants