Since its launch on April 1 by Illinois Governor JB Pritzker and Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot, the Arts for Illinois Relief Fund has awarded nearly $7 million in grants to 2,493 artists and 269 organizations across the state who have been impacted by COVID-related closures. Much more is needed, but we are finding joy in this significant accomplishment.
Donations received by the fund have supported a diverse representation of the state’s creative sector, small to large organizations, geographically spread across the state, and representing a vast number of artistic disciplines and creative practices. Our sincere thanks to all contributors to the fund, including individual donors, local and state government, and private philanthropy.
The fund has centered racial equity and prioritized equitable access for other historically marginalized groups. 63% of individual grants have been awarded to artists of color, 12% to artists with disabilities, and 5% to trans or gender non-conforming artists. Organizational grants also prioritized racial diversity as well as diversity of physical ability, artistic disciplines and geography, including a dedicated round of funding to organizations outside of Chicago, in partnership with seven community foundations across the state.
Of course, the Relief Fund is only one part of a larger structure of support for the creative sector. Over the last eight months, Arts Alliance Illinois has been working urgently to bolster the creative sector through emergency communications, policy and resource briefings, community organizing for local, state, and federal advocacy, and impact research. We’ve always felt our work is important, but 2020 has shown that this work is critical and essential for the survival of the arts in Illinois.
As we move forward through the coming year, we will continue to need to draw on our vast network of creatives and advocates who believe that the arts matter. The only way through these crises is together.