May 21, 2021


May 18, 2021


Elizabeth Restrepo

Jasculca Terman Strategic Communications

for Arts Alliance Illinois      

(630) 297-1426

Funds from the American Rescue Plan must support the creative sector. 

ILLINOIS – Through the Illinois Creative Future Fund campaign, a diverse coalition of arts leaders from across Illinois are advocating for the State of Illinois to invest $500 million from federal American Rescue Plan assistance over the next four years in the Illinois creative sector, prioritizing BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, People of Color), rural, and other communities disproportionately impacted by COVID.

COVID has devastated our state’s creative sector, yet the arts remain an economic engine to power a resilient Illinois recovery.  We have a historic opportunity with the federal COVID assistance to demonstrate that Illinois values the over 22,000 creative businesses and 250,000 culture workers in our sector.

Other states are going big: New York just passed a one-year budget that gives their arts sector over $200 million in dedicated funds, plus access to $800 million in recovery grants, and California legislators are championing a $1 billion package for the arts. Illinois creatives cannot be left behind. “Summer is coming, vaccination rates are rising, artists and cultural workers are excited to get back to work. But the full vitality of our creative sector cannot come back without serious investment,” says Claire Rice, Executive Director of Arts Alliance Illinois.

While the Shuttered Venues Operators Grants have offered a short-term lifeline for independent venues, a larger investment is necessary to ensure a full revitalization of the creative sector. “Independent venues have been hit especially hard by the pandemic, and we aren’t sure how long it will take to begin serving our community like we did before,” added Robert Gomez, owner of Subterranean and Beat Kitchen in Chicago, “I am glad venues are standing with the rest of the arts community. Performers, technicians, non-profit groups […] they all come through our doors. We need comprehensive relief for all of the arts, because it’s all connected.” Gomez is also Co-Chair of the Chicago Independent Venue League (CIVL).

“We must support the arts and culture sector, which is so critical to the economic recovery of our neighborhoods and local communities, but we also must remember that the pain of the last year has not been felt equally.” noted Peter Vega, Executive Director of the Chicago Cultural Alliance that represents cultural heritage centers.  “We have to prioritize our BIPOC and rural communities, the communities that were not adequately funded even before COVID-19 hit.”

“Every arts organization in Illinois has been affected by the pandemic,” added Sheila Walk, Executive Director of the Springfield Area Arts Council, “These federal relief dollars can help each one do its work in communities large and small, rural and urban and suburban.  It especially will help those organizations that have limited access to philanthropic and business support.”

“Maywood Fine Arts has had an unprecedented year in light of the COVID-19 pandemic,” added Lois Baumann, Founder and Executive Director, “We have been able to continue our arts and fitness programs with both online and in-person instruction. Still, our numbers have been significantly reduced. Support from the state is vitally important for MFA to continue our 25 years’ mission in our community.”

This funding is not only about supporting the performing arts, museums, and venues that give so much to the vitality of our communities, it’s also about supporting Illinois students who have endured a painful year of uncertainty and isolation. “Arts education contributes to social & emotional learning, which is vital to students’ ability to process what has happened and recover from the COVID crisis.” Michael Skura, President, Illinois Art Education Association “We need to invest in arts learning now more than ever.”

The Illinois Creative Future Fund would activate the full, statewide power of arts and culture to support the economic, societal, and mental and emotional recovery of communities throughout Illinois. Here’s how the $500 million would break down:

  • Independent venues [$100 million]: Relief and recovery (e.g, prevent closures, rebuild, reopen). Venue-centered community development.
  • Performing arts, arts education organizations, & film [$100 million]: Relief, recovery, and start-up performances. Increase arts & culture access.
  • Museums, visual arts, & cultural heritage [$75 million]: Avoid closures and adjust exhibits to pandemic guidelines. Support community healing and tell their neighborhood’s COVID recovery stories.
  • Workforce development [$75 million]: Cultivate an equitable, career development pipeline into creative industries. Provide support for artists who also want to apply their creative skills to other sectors (e.g., health care, advanced manufacturing).
  • Arts Education [$75 million]: Utilize the social & emotional learning of classroom arts education to support student recovery. Teacher professional development and new pathways to become arts educators.
  • Capital projects [$75 million]: Support local arts organizations statewide in adapting their facilities to pandemic guidelines.

The leadership coalition supporting this initiative includes: 2112 Creative Incubator, African American Arts Alliance of Chicago, Art Connected / IL High School Art Exhibition, Arts Alliance Illinois, Association of Midwest Museums, Chicago Cultural Alliance, Chicago Latino Theatre Alliance, Illinois Art Education Association (IAEA), Illinois Association of Museums, Illinois Music Education Association (ILMEA), Illinois Presenters Network (ILPN), Ingenuity, Inc., Landmarks Illinois, League of Chicago Theatres, Illinois Dance Education Organization, National Independent Venue Association (NIVA), Illinois members.

Visit to learn more.

About Arts Alliance Illinois

Arts Alliance Illinois fights for arts resources and policies that benefit our members and all Illinois residents. With 25,000 active subscribers and hundreds of members, we connect the people and ideas that are shaping the future of the creative sector. As the only multidisciplinary organization concentrated on the strength of arts and culture across the state, the Alliance takes on challenges that no single organization or artist can fight alone. Our work in civic engagement, arts education, and cultural equity positively impacts every community across the state. Visit to learn more.