(Chicago, IL- June 18, 2021) The Carl & Marilynn Thoma Foundation announced Snow City Arts as one of five recipients for the inaugural Digital Changemaker Grant, an initiative to support and propel the usage of technology in diverse and engaging ways. Snow City Arts was selected from a competition of 96 applicants across the country to receive $100,000 to support virtual learning efforts and redefine how technology can be deployed through meaningful engagement with audiences and communities.

Snow City Arts has been ahead of the curve adapting to virtual tools and content for HIPAA-compliant program delivery to students in three Chicagoland pediatric hospitals, with the launch of online video content in April 2020, virtual one-to-one workshops in June 2020, and virtual group classes in July 2020. Shifting to a virtual setting allowed teaching artists to think about ways to further integrate these technologies into interactions with Snow City Arts students and also opened doors to working with youth experiencing transition such as those recovering at home or a new partnership with the Cook County Juvenile Probation via The Harold and Rosemarie Marx Fund. “New digital platforms extend the historic strengths of Snow City Arts to new young people, transforming transitional environments, which can often be scary and uncertain, into spaces of creativity and joy,” says SCA Executive Director Carrie Spitler.

Snow City Arts’ free virtual learning initiative provides arts-based learning opportunities that can be accessed through online video instruction to youth between the ages of 4-20. The curriculum spans several disciplines including creative writing, media arts, music, theater, and visual arts.

“This grant is an amazing invitation to fully explore the possibilities of working with new populations and in new spaces that were previously beyond our reach. The opportunities for collaboration are astounding. I’m excited to explore space making in the context of Virtual Programming and want us to find new ways of building bodies of work with our students that are visible and tangible and can be interacted with. I want students to have the ability to populate virtual spaces with their achievements so we can sit together in that space and reflect. Having the opportunity to explore digital tools that can mirror that accumulation and transformation has been an interest of mine.” says Snow City Arts Program Director Dan Kerr-Hobert,who was recently promoted to the role after a 13-year tenure as Teaching Artist at Snow City Arts. Dan is an interdisciplinary theatre artist. He writes and performs as an Ensemble Member of the Neo-Futurists and works as a freelance puppet designer and performer in Chicago.

About The Carl & Marilynn Thoma Foundation

The Carl & Marilynn Thoma Foundation recognizes the power of the arts to challenge and shift perceptions, spark creativity, and connect people across cultures. We lend and exhibit artworks from our collection and support innovative individuals and pivotal initiatives in the arts. Snow City Arts Virtual Learning Expansion is made possible through the generous support of the
Carl & Marilynn Thoma Foundation. The Digital Changemaker Grants support five cultural organizations with grants of $100,000 each based on the merits of their application proposals.

The Thoma Foundation defines a “digital changemaker” as a cultural institution that is using technology to elevate viewer interactions, both on-site and virtually. The grant program strives to not only help organizations execute cutting-edge digital projects, but also to raise the bar on what is perceived as possible for smaller institutions to achieve. In anticipation of a future where the physical and virtual remain intertwined, the program seeks to support and share boundary-pushing initiatives that reach and engage with diverse audiences in novel ways.

Cultural organizations offer myriad perspectives on what it means to be a “digital changemaker,” and these five organizations span the spectrum of initiatives, from online learning that reaches traditionally neglected audiences to digitally enhanced interactive exhibits. With a large range in operating budgets from less than $1 million to just north of $10 million, these organizations also showcase that meaningful digital projects can happen at all sizes see full press release here (https://thomafoundation.org/news-press/foundation-news/thoma-foundations-2021-digital-changemakers-announced/).

About Snow City Arts

Snow City Arts has been providing arts-learning opportunities for 1,300+ students annually on site in pediatric hospitals across Chicago since 1998. Our programs enrich and change the lives of our students through the arts. We daily invite patients to become students and witness students become poets, painters, dancers, or filmmakers as our Teaching Artists transform hospital and Zoom rooms into creative spaces while conducting one-on-one lessons with students live or remotely. For more information visit snowcityarts.org.