Best art gallery

Co-Prosperity Sphere 

Runner-up: Chicago Truborn

Best art group or collective

Englewood Arts Collective 

Runner-up: Project Onward

Best choreographer

Star Dixon 

Runner-up: Stephanie Martinez

Best comedian (non standup)

Maggie Winters 

Runner-up: Alex Collyard

Best comics illustrator

Keith J. Taylor 

Runner-up: Chris Ware

Best comics writer

Chris Ware 

Runner-up: Megan Kirby

Best dance production

Fly Honey Show’s DIY Fly 

Runner-up: Hubbard Street Dance’s RE/TURN at Harris Theater

Best dance studio or training program

Hyde Park School of Dance 

Runner-up: Giordano Dance Chicago

Best dance troupe

Fly Honeys 

Runner-up: Joffrey Ballet

Best dancer

Donnetta “LilBit” Jackson 

Runner-up: Dawn Xiana Moon

Best drag performer

Lucy Stoole 

Runner-up: Derry Queen

Best drive-in movie programming

Music Box of Horrors: Dawn of the Drive-In at ChiTown Movies

Runner-up: ChiTown Movies

Best established theater company

Steppenwolf Theatre 

Runner-up: The Neo-Futurists

Best film festival

Chicago International Film Festival 

Runner-up: Reeling: The Chicago LGBTQ+ International Film Festival

Best film programming

Music Box Theatre 

Runner-up: Gene Siskel Film Center

Best filmmaker

Elias Rios 

Runner-up: Jennifer Reeder

Best independent book publisher

Haymarket Books 

Runner-up: The University of Chicago Press

Best lecture series

Chicago Humanities Festival 

Runners-up: Great Cities Institute at UIC, VOICES at UIC’s Gallery 400

Best movie theater

Special award for most votes of any winner in any category

Music Box Theatre 

Runner-up: Logan Theatre

Best movie theater bar

The Music Box 

Runner-up: The Logan Theater

Best mural

Robin Williams mural at 2047 N. Milwaukee (Concord Music Hall) by Jerkface and Owen Dippie 

Runner-up: Dolly Parton mural at Lytle House (5517 N. Broadway) by Michelle Lytle

Best museum

Art Institute of Chicago 

Runner-up: National Museum of Mexican Art

Best musical

American Mariachi (Goodman) 

Runner-up: Sister Act at Mercury Theater

Best new local opera production

The Magic Flute (Lyric Opera of Chicago) 

Runner-up: Macbeth (Lyric Opera of Chicago)

Best new nonfiction book by a Chicagoan

Three Girls from Bronzeville: A Uniquely American Memoir of Race, Fate, and Sisterhood by Dawn Turner 

Runner-up: U2’s The Joshua Tree: Planting Roots in Mythic America by Bradley Morgan

Best new novel by a Chicagoan

Arsenic and Adobo by Mia P. Manansala 

Runner-up: This Little Life of Mine by Shakia Jackson

Best new play

When Harry Met Rehab 

Runner-up: Where the Air Meets the Water

Best new poetry collection by a Chicagoan

And She Worthy by Kwyn Townsend Riley 

Runner-up: There Are Trans People Here by H. Melt

Best new theater company

Stepping Stone Theater Chicago 

Runner-up: Cabinet of Curiosity

Best nonfiction writer

Eve Ewing 

Runner-up: Alex Kotlowitz

Best novelist

Rebecca Makkai 

Runner-up: Kathleen Rooney

Best off-Loop theater company

The Neo-Futurists 

Runners-up: Porchlight Music Theatre, Raven Theatre

Best open mike

The Open Stage at Annoyance Theatre 

Runner-up: Cole’s Bar

Best opera company

Lyric Opera 

Runner-up: Chicago Opera Theater

Best original digital content (dance)

M.A.D.D. Rhythms (Aisha by Star Dixon) 

Runner-up: Hubbard Street Dance Chicago (Half of Us)

Best original digital content (theater)

The Infinite Wrench Goes Viral (Neo-Futurists) 

Runner-up: ComedySportz Chicago

Best performing arts festival

Ravinia Festival 

Runner-up: Chicago International Puppet Theater Festival

Best photographer

Barry Butler 

Runner-up: The Kid From Pilsen (William Guerrero)

Best playwright

Tracy Letts 

Runner-up: Kristiana Rae Colón

Best poet

Eve Ewing 

Runner-up: Hannah McDonald

Best poetry organization (tie)

Poetry Foundation

Kuumba Lynx 

Runners-up: Chicago Poetry Center

Best reading series

Read Some Shit Chicago 

Runner-up: Grandma’s House

Best sketch/improv troupe

Late Night Shenanigans 

Runner-up: Devil’s Daughter

Best stage actor

Carrie Coon 

Runner-up: Ana Silva

Best stage director

Madison Smith 

Runners-up: Ron OJ Parson, Barbara Zahora

Best stand-up comic

Eliana La Casa 

Runner-up: Luca Ferro

Best storytelling series

The Moth 

Runner-up: Grown Folks Stories

Best street artist

JC Rivera 

Runner-up: Sentrock

Best theater bar or lobby

Steppenwolf Theatre 

Runner-up: The Annoyance

Best theater designer (sets, light, sound, etc.)

Sydney Lynne 

Runner-up: Sam MacNerland

Best theater production


Runner-up: Hot Clown Sex

Best theater training program

Second City 

Runner-up: The Annoyance

Best venue for dance

Harris Theater 

Runner-up: Auditorium Theatre

Best venue for improv

Second City 

Runner-up: Annoyance Theatre

Best venue for stand-up

The Hideout 

Runner-up: The Annoyance

Best venue for theater


Runner-up: Goodman Theatre

Best venue to see drag


Runner-up: Baton Show Lounge

Best virtual play

Queen Lear (Quarantine Queens) 

Runner-up: Pride & Prejudice, Pride & Prejudice Productions

Best visual artist

Kerry James Marshall 

Runner-up: Keith J. Taylor

Best zine

Word Brothel 

Runner-up: Acid Nun (Corinne Halbert)

Best of Chicago 2021 is
presented by

Green Thumb

sponsored in part by

Goethe Institut
Chicago History Museum

Refer to the closed final ballot to see all the categories and finalists that were voted on.