MacArthur Arts and Culture Loan Fund

The MacArthur Arts and Culture Loan Fund is a program designed to help small- and medium-sized arts and culture organizations in Chicago to manage uneven cash flows and strengthen financial capacity. The program includes not only access to an operating line of credit, but also financial management workshops, customized coaching, and technical assistance on financial projects.

The program is funded by the MacArthur Foundation and administered by IFF in partnership with Fiscal Management Associates (FMA).

In order to support arts organizations navigating unexpected financial troubles due to the COVID-19 pandemic, we have temporarily expanded our eligibility guidelines for organizations and have moved workshops and coaching to virtual platforms. Scroll down to learn more about these offerings.


Why is financial management important for arts and culture organizations?

Arts and culture play an integral role in modeling perspectives and enriching lives in communities. However, for many arts organizations, access to funding, financing, and financial management resources necessary to sustain arts-based programming can be difficult to find. After completing the program, our goal is that organizations are able to:

  • Have access to an operating line of credit to meet their organization’s short-term fiscal needs
  • Deeply understand financial management tools and organizational budget cycles
  • Build an institutional credit history, in order to continue creating relationships for future financial needs

“For those of us who run smaller nonprofits, we don’t have the luxury of having someone with an accounting background on our team. Often times, financial forecasting can be very abstract. It feels like a huge leap for a nonprofit that relies on donations – not sales of a product – to have any kind of debt. But these classes were phenomenal and, believe it or not, fun. The environment was friendly and enabled participants to learn from one another. Additionally, it was important and helpful that we used CAC’s real numbers. The training prepared us to take out a line of credit and pay it back.”

Chicago Artists Coalition (CAC) Executive Director Caroline Older


What’s included in the program?

Program participants have the option of tapping into the following powerful resources singly or in combination with one another, depending on their organizations’ specific needs:

1. Operating Loans

Operating lines of credit are a useful tool to help nonprofit arts organizations manage the uneven cash flows stemming from factors like the timing of production costs, ticket sales, and grant and government revenue. Loans are offered by program administrator IFF and program partner Fifth Third Bank, ranging in size from $10,000 to $150,000.

2. Free Workshop Series & Customized Coaching

Financial experts from program partner Fiscal Management Associates (FMA) deliver a series of intensive workshops on mission-critical topics like financial planning and monitoring, interspersed with customized coaching, over the course of four months. Topics covered including financial planning, financial monitoring, and fiscal operations.

“We meet organizations where they are and focus on concrete steps they can take to support and sustain the work they do for Chicago communities,” says Lead FMA Consultant Dana Britto.  

3. Free Technical Assistance Projects

FMA also takes on financial projects — from writing policies and procedures manuals, to customizing your Chart of Accounts to maximize reporting — that arts leaders haven’t had the time or expertise to do themselves.


Our COVID-19 Emergency Response

Loan terms for our operating lines of credit have been temporarily altered to provide additional relief for both new and existing borrowers

Customary Program COVID-19 Emergency Response Program
Interest Rate Varies Interest on loans will be forgiven for a 1-year period (4/1/2020 – 4/1/2021), for both new and existing customers
Budget Size $250,000 – $5 million $250,000 – $10 million
Maximum Loan Term 1 year 2 years
Maximum Loan Size $150,000 $250,000
Grantee Status
Applicants must be a grantee of the MacArthur Foundation, or the MacArthur Funds at the Prince Charitable Trusts or the Driehaus Foundation
Current grantees only Any organization that was a grantee from April 2019 to Present

How to Apply

To apply, follow these two simple steps:

1. Review our eligibility requirements. This program is designed especially for arts and culture organizations that meet these conditions:

  • 501(c)(3) tax exempt status
  • Headquarters in Chicago
  • Budget size of $250,000 to $5 million (expanded to $10 million for the COVID Response)
  • Current grantee status with the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation or one of the MacArthur Funds at the Driehaus Foundation or the Prince Charitable Trusts (expanded to include any organization that was a grantee as of April 2019 to present during the COVID Response)

2. Complete our intake form. Program participants have the option of tapping into one or more of our program components: operating loans, technical assistance, and/or the workshop training series. Please note that the deadline for the fall 2020 workshop training series was August 31, but other program components are still available on an ongoing basis.



Check out these helpful links to get your organization started in financial management:


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