SPARK Artists in Residence - Filament Theatre
“SPARK turned my: "this would be cool...but is it possible?" into a resounding, YES! Building my piece with the youth collaborators while having the consistent support of Filament staff was a total dream.”
Sonia Goldberg
2021 SPARK Artist

Past SPARK Artists in Residence:


SPARK is a six week long artistic development residency for individual artists creating work for young audiences. Artists receive a $1500 stipend, a $250 materials budget, access to Filament Theatre’s space and stock, and administrative and artistic development support from Filament’s staff and youth artistic teams throughout the residency. Artists are anticipated to work 70 total hours over the lifespan of the residency (10 hours of prep, 60 hours of project development).

Artists of all disciplines are encouraged to apply. The youth curators invite you to stretch the boundaries of your imagination to create something truly new and original. The youth curators are particularly excited about innovative, unexpected, and unusual work for K – 3rd graders, but will consider projects for young people ages 0 – 12.

About the selection process

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

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. Previous SPARK projects include a choose-your-own adventure play, a musical video game, and a community-sourced mural. Really, any discipline, any medium is encouraged to apply! The sky’s the limit! 

Artists should be enthusiastic about working with young people, and open to allowing youth input to impact or transform their project. Experience working with young people is not necessary; Filament will provide resources, including professional teaching artists, to support your collaboration with our youth artistic teams. 

“SPARK was an opportunity to not only make collaborative art with the most innovative creative minds imaginable (kids!), but to receive incredible support from a forward-thinking organization with a rich knowledge of what it means to build meaningful, child-centered experiences.”
Danny Clay
2021 SPARK Artist


  • – Applications for the 2023 SPARK program have closed, awards will be announced in February 2023. 
  • – SPARK residencies will be hosted in April/May, July/August, or October/November 2023.
  • – Artists from outside Chicagoland are welcome to apply as a remote residency. Remote artists will receive the same stipend and administrative support, but will not have access to Filament’s space and stock.
  • – All applications will be reviewed and evaluated by young people in 3rd-8th grades.
  • – Projects must be intended for young audiences. This year we are especially interested in pieces for K-3rd grade!
  • – 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 sharingss must adhere to most recent CDC safety standards and COVID-19 protocols.
  • – The 2023 SPARK artists will be selected on February 25, 2023 and notified by March 1.
  • – The 2023 SPARK artists should be available on March 25, 2023 for a program kick-off and launch party.
  • – For additional questions, please contact

Application Tips

  • – Your application will be reviewed by 3rd-8th graders. We strongly encourage you to speak directly to the youth curators in your application. We strongly encourage you to run any written portion of the application through a readability formula like this one to ensure that it is accessible.
  • – Tell us about your project as clearly and enthusiastically as possible. Focusing on technical jargon, your educational credentials, people you’ve studied under, etc. is not particularly compelling to SPARK’s curators. Theatre terms we take for granted as being universally understood (such as “workshop” or “physical theatre”) will likely not be familiar to our youth curators. For example:
    • DO say
    • “I want to make a play about resilience, but it doesn’t have a script yet. To write that script, we’ll play games and tell stories and free-write about how we get through hard times. I will take the ideas we all have together and turn them into the script.”
    • DON’T say
    • “I’m creating a devised work on the topic of resilience.”
  • – No, really. We’re not kidding. Eight, ten, and twelve-year-olds are going to read and evaluate your application. The youth curators are deeply intelligent and wildly passionate about theatre, storytelling, equity, and community engagement. They do not have MFAs in Theatre. Please keep them in mind as you are writing.
“Spark gave me the opportunity to create my first mural! The team is super supportive and genuine. I think Spark is a great opportunity for any artist looking to bring their vision to life with a motivated team.”
Hannah Markey
2021 SPARK Artist

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. 

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