This pandemic is extremely hard on artists, and it’s extremely hard on kids. So we’ve created SPARK, a program for artists making work for and with young people. Imagine the kind of art your 5, 7, or 10 year-old self would want to see, make, or experience right now. Apply to SPARK, and come make that thing a reality!


SPARK is a month-long artistic development residency for individual artists creating work for young audiences. Artists receive a $1000 stipend, a $250 materials budget, access to Filament Theatre’s space and stock (if located in Chicago area), and administrative and artistic development support from Filament’s staff and youth artistic teams throughout the residency. Artists are anticipated to work approximately 10 hours on preparation and 40 hours during their month in residency.

Artists of all disciplines are encouraged to apply. We are particularly excited about innovative, unexpected, and unusual work for young audiences.

About the selection process

Filament Theatre creates work for, by, and with young audiences. For the first time with SPARK, youth will also be curating the entire experience. With support and skillbuilding from Filament’s artistic and education directors, a curatorial team of 3rd-8th graders will be entirely responsible for the selection of up to three SPARK artists. At least 2 out of 3 residency months will be allocated to BIPOC artists.

To learn more about Filament’s values, and how they inform our art-making, please visit http://www.filamenttheatre.org/about/

Is SPARK right for me?

SPARK is particularly suited to support projects that are in early phases of conception or development. Artists can use their month at Filament to see a project through from start to finish (like a shadow puppet short film!), or to make significant progress toward a longer-term goal (like a draft of a children’s novel!).  Although the nature of each development process will vary depending on the project itself, SPARK projects must culminate in a final presentation – work-in-progress showing, exhibition, final performance, etc. – to share with Filament’s audience.

Artists should be enthusiastic about working with young people, and bring a spirit of openness to allowing youth input to impact or transform their project. Experience working with young people is not necessary; Filament will provide resources to support your collaboration with our youth artistic teams.

Artists from all disciplines are encouraged to apply for SPARK. Some examples of potential SPARK projects might be:

  • A theater artist creating an interactive audio-play, tested and reviewed by Filament’s youth dramaturgy team.
  • A musician writing songs inspired by interviews with young people.
  • A muralist creating a community-sourced mural, to display in Filament’s windows.
  • A playwright working on a second draft of a script, with feedback and dramaturgical support from Filament’s youth team.
  • A puppeteer creating a video series, co-written with young people.


  • Apply here.
  • Applications are due February 8 at 5:00pm
  • SPARK residencies will be hosted in April, May, and June of 2021 (Once selected, each artist will be assigned one month where they are in residence.)
  • All applications will be reviewed and evaluated by young people in 3rd-8th grades.
  • Projects must be intended for young audiences.
  • Selected projects will be shared with Filament’s community at the end of each residency, as either a final or work-in-progress sharing, depending on the nature of the project.
  • All final showings must adhere to most recent CDC safety standards and COVID-19 protocols.

For additional questions, please contact spark@filamenttheatre.org

About Filament Theatre

The mission of Filament Theatre is to create a more equitable society by celebrating and amplifying the perspectives and experiences of young people through the performing arts.

At Filament, the word PLAY is both a noun and a verb. Our audiences join in our play at every step, from family dramaturgy workshops, to participatory pre- and post-show activities, to the performances themselves.  Our past work includes a play where the audience rides bicycles, a play with two actors playing 26 characters, a totally audience-driven interactive installation, a play in a restaurant with a five-course meal accompanying the story, a play in a sandbox, a play that toured the rooms of an old mansion, a choose-your-own-adventure play, a play with a symphony orchestra, and a whole bunch of commissions by Chicago playwrights. All of our work is accessible to multigenerational and neurodiverse audiences.

Our production process welcomes young people into the room as essential collaborators, working alongside adult professionals to craft and explore the world of each play, elevating young people as experts and positioning adults as allies. Centering youth voices and perspectives is key to every step of our creative process; not only does it give young people a crucial platform in a society that undervalues their input, but it makes the art more relevant, truthful, and creative. As we grow, Filament is testing and exploring ways to expand youth leadership within all aspects of the organization.

Now in its fourteenth year, Filament Theatre is an anchor cultural organization for the Six Corners business district in Chicago’s Portage Park. We serve approximately 8500 patrons annually through our theatre programming, camps, school residencies, and classes. As the only theatre of its kind in Chicago, Filament is a vital home for innovative artists and young people finding and using their power through the performing arts.

About Our Space

SPARK’s artists have the opportunity to work in Filament’s flexible 1850 square foot black-box theatre and spacious storefront workspace in Portage Park. Artists will have access to our full facility and stock, which includes: two large street-facing windows (perfect for displays!), kitchenette, dressing room, risers, platforms, cafe tables, lighting equipment, sound equipment, black curtains, a collection of props, sewing machine, costumes, and fabric. Filament staff and board ensure that all space use meets or exceeds current CDC recommendations.

Instructions to Apply:

Applications are submitted through a google form accessible through this posting and on our website. Artists should have a basic idea of what project they'd like to develop, how they plan to engage young people in the process, an artist statement, and optional supporting documents such as images, videos, sound files, or portfolios.

To apply for this job email your details to spark@filamenttheatre.org

Pay Rate/Range*: $1000 per residency, $250 material budget
Organization Address: 4041 N. Milwaukee Ave. Chicago, IL
Organization Contact Name: Julie Ritchey
Organization Email Contact: spark@filamenttheatre.org