A Local Black-Owned Museum and Theater Awarded 2022 Small Business Grants

According to the U.S. Small Business Administration, metropolitan small businesses were hit the hardest by the COVID-19 pandemic. Many of these businesses are still trying to bounce back and adjust to the new normal of running their companies. The CAR Foundation continues to help small business owners affected by the COVID-19 pandemic through its Small Business Grants. During Black History Month in February, we awarded two grants to Black locally-owned businesses.

Be sure to stop by, say hello and support their establishments.

Black Ensemble Theater
4450 N. Clark St.

Founded by Jackie Taylor in 1976 as a small arts theater organization for the community, the Black Ensemble Theater is one of the most diverse and renowned theaters in the country, aiming to eradicate racism and the damage it inflicts on our communities through theater arts and bringing together people of different backgrounds to embrace similarities, create dialogues and foster understanding and acceptance.

The theater also offers a variety of opportunities and initiatives to artists and young kids in the community, including:

  • Play with a Purpose: A series of productions that teach positive lessons and values.
  • Black Playwrights Initiative: Opportunities for Black playwrights to develop their scripts for the Black Ensemble Theater.
  • Summer Youth Internship Program: Skill-building for a career in technical theater arts for inner-city youths between the ages of 16 to 21.

Due to the pandemic, the Black Ensemble Theater closed its doors for two years and shifted operations virtually, which meant the theater took a large hit to its income. Our small business grant will support the theater’s general operations, so it can continue to be an asset to the community.

Haitian American Museum of Chicago
4654 N. Racine Ave.

Uptown’s Haitian American Museum of Chicago (HAMOC), founded in 2012 by Haiti-native Elsie Hernandez, showcases programs and exhibits on Haitian culture, arts and history. It is considered by many to be the epicenter for the Haitian community in Chicago, tailoring its programming to the community’s needs; by including topics related to the Black diaspora, social justice, immigration, refugees, race and identity, they give the Haitian American community a voice in Chicago.

To create broader exposure for their programs and artists, HAMOC partners with a variety of organizations and businesses. In the
past, they’ve also worked with local colleges to transcribe the Haitian oral history throughout the museum, created window displays with local artists and worked on community exhibits in North Lawndale and Evanston.

HAMOC was affected by the COVID-19 pandemic in three key ways: through its revenue, its staffing and its in-person programs. At the start of the pandemic, HAMOC closed for nine months and operated without visitor revenue. Due to this lack of revenue and visitors, staffing was affected, and volunteer opportunities were put on hold. In-person programs, like classes and spotlight exhibits, were also put on hold and remain available to limited numbers of people. HAMOC’s affiliated artists were also hit hard financially.

Funding from our grant will be put towards commissioning art from these underrepresented artists, and their artwork will be shared with the Chicagoland community and placed in the museum’s permanent collection.

We continue to support other Chicago-based, minority-owned small businesses impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. Make sure to keep an eye on our website and emails for more information on additional grants that will be rolling out throughout the year and share the applications with those who qualify. Together, we will continue to uplift our communities and those who keep them thriving.