Below is a letter to the governor that was signed by 5,992 Illinoisans from over 700 arts and culture organizations and representing 449 different zip codes.
Dear Governor Pritzker,
We in the Illinois creative sector appreciate your efforts in leading our state through the ongoing COVID crisis. The crisis continues to devastate creative small businesses and nonprofit arts organizations, however, and we urge the State of Illinois to invest in our sector’s survival.
We ask that the Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity commit $50 million in Business Interruption Grants (BIG) to the creative sector, with prioritization given to communities of color and other disproportionately impacted communities.
A strong creative sector is vital to Illinois’ recovery. Arts and cultural production contributes more than $30 billion to our state’s economy and provides over 224,000 jobs (U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis), yet COVID is causing a surge of permanent closures in our sector, with no end in sight. In a recent survey by Arts Alliance Illinois, 300 arts organizations alone reported nearly 8,000 cancelled events and $94 million in lost revenue in just the past three months.
Phase 3 allowed many bars, restaurants, hair salons, and fitness centers to open, at least partially, giving them much needed revenue. Creative sector enterprises such as performing arts venues, on the other hand, had to remain closed, experiencing the full brunt of the economic crisis for a longer time. Phase 4 guidelines loosen restrictions but not to a degree that enables creative businesses to earn sufficient revenue.
We support the efforts to safeguard public health, and our first priority is to keep our audiences and customers safe from COVID. At the same time, our sector desperately needs financial support from the state in order to survive and help drive recovery.
As governor and as a private citizen, you have long championed the arts and creative enterprise. During this time of crisis, we ask that this support come also through the DCEO committing $50 million in BIG funding to the creative sector, especially disproportionately impacted communities.
Thank you for your consideration.
The Illinois Creative Sector