The Prince Prize: Commissioning Original Work

Chicago is home to some of the most distinguished performing arts organizations in the world. The Prince Prize is a grant program of the Prince Charitable Trusts, to support the core mission of those organizations by commissioning original works of visual art, dance, music and theater and the inaugural performances by major Chicago companies.

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In spirit, the Prince Prize returns to an older model of support for the Arts.

Historically, individual patrons and more recently, some foundations assisted creative artists directly, and in partnership with the companies that bring their work to the public. We believe that supporting the creative process is one of the most critical forms of patronage of the arts, one that has left a lasting legacy that continues to enrich us all. If the creation and performance of works of art is not continually encouraged and fostered, artists cannot continue to do their unique and important work, nor can the arts organizations fulfill all the roles that society asks them to play.

An award of $75,000 will be made each year to a major Chicago dance, music, visual arts or theater company. The Prince Prize will commission a promising mid-career artist chosen by the performing or visual arts institution and must be at least one-third of the award. The remainder of the grant may be used by the company to help underwrite development and initial performance of the commissioned work. The intent of the Prize program is to serve as a catalyst for creative collaboration between promising artists and Chicago’s highest caliber arts organizations. Our goal is to provide an opportunity to showcase both the artists and Chicago’s great performing arts companies to the Chicago public and the nation.

Invitation only.

Profile of Prince Prize recipient

Awarded in 2010 to Goodman Theatre and playwright Thomas Bradshaw for the play, “Mary.”

As part of Goodman Theatre’s 10th anniversary season in its new building, Bradshaw’s provocative play challenged audiences to confront their own ideas about bigotry, progressivism, and righteousness. (Presented from February 9 – March 6, 2011)

Photo courtesy of Liz Lauren

Profile of Prince Prize recipient

Awarded in 2012 to Hubbard Street Dance Chicago and choreographer Alejandro Cerrudo for “One Thousand Pieces.”

Inspired by Marc Chagall’s America Windows, housed at the Art Institute of Chicago, “One Thousand Pieces” was choreographed to the music of Philip Glass and was the first full-evening work by HSDC Resident Choreographer Cerrudo. (Presented October 18-21, 2012)

Photo courtesy of Todd Rosenberg.

Profile of Prince Prize recipient

Awarded in 2011 to The Art Institute of Chicago and contemporary artist Katharina Fritsch for the installation of nine free-standing art objects

(Displayed April 21 through November 11, 2012)

Fritsch’s exploration of the personal and familiar through sculpture was installed on the Bluhm Family Terrace making this groundbreaking work free and accessible to the public. These nine objects were produced in various media including bronze, iron and plastic.

Photo courtesy of Ivo Faber.

Profile of Prince Prize recipient

Awarded in 2013 to Lyric Opera of Chicago and composer Jimmy Lόpez for “Bel Canto.”

Based on the novel by Ann Patchett which drew from actual events in Peru this new opera explores the nature of protest and the role of art and music in humanizing those viewed as other.  With a libretto by playwright Nilo Cruz, “Bel Canto” was featured on PBS’s Great Performances in January 2017. (Presented December 7, 2015 – January 17, 2016)

Photo courtesy of Lyric Opera of Chicago.