Grant Announcement: Rick Bayless’ Family Foundation Opens Annual Theater Grant Applications

Celebrity chef’s foundation makes $300,000 available to Chicago theater companies
The Bayless Family Foundation is proud to announce the 2021 “Signal Grant” application is open for Chicago theaters.

“We hope these grants can be a lively, bright spark to our city’s theater scene after what’s been a dark time,” said Rick Bayless, the celebrity chef behind the James Beard Award-winning restaurants Frontera Grill and Topolobampo.
The “Signal Grant” is being offered in response to the COVID crisis for Chicago’s theatre community, which has been among the hardest-hit industries in the ongoing pandemic because of mandated closures and other restrictions. The foundation will award $25,000 grants to 12 local theatres to defray the mounting costs of staging a live, multi-week production for an in-person audience.

“When we spoke to leaders in the Chicago theatre community, we heard there was a lot of fear around having enough cash flow to begin a production. Hiring artists and technicians, launching ticket pre-sales, building costumes and renting lights all cost real money. Our foundation hopes to alleviate some of that financial stress and bring productions to life,” said foundation Executive Director Kevin Sullivan.

The Signal Grant was first awarded in 2019, given on an occasional basis to draw focus to a company the foundation believes in and to inspire other donors — to send a signal — to give generously to the company. Past winners include Chicago’s Congo Square Theatre and The Actors Gymnasium, a circus school and theatre company in Evanston.

Formed in 2017 by Bayless and his wife Deann, the Bayless Family Foundation supports established Chicago theater organizations with a vision for institutional and artistic growth. Since its inception, the foundation has awarded more than $1 million in support of Chicago-area theatre companies through its “Signal Grant” and “Stepping Stone” grant programs, as well as a 2019 partnership with the City of Chicago that brought dozens of live public performances to Millennium Park.

Grant applications can be found at The deadline to apply is Friday, April 16th.