Spring Legislative Recap

Legislative accomplishments for the creative sector during the Illinois General Assembly’s 2023 session

Thanks to the efforts of advocates across Illinois, the creative community achieved a lot this legislative session, including partially or fully reaching important goals outlined in the Alliance’s 2023-2025 Policy Agenda.

Thank you to all the advocates who fought for these victories, many of which were years in the making. Our sector continues to grapple with an ongoing crisis. There is much more work to be done, fighting for public funding and policy reforms to support our sector. We look forward to continuing to partner with an extraordinary coalition of arts advocates to build on these accomplishments.

This Spring, our sector:

  • Achieved a $1.9 million increase in state support for the Illinois Arts Council Agency (13.3%) despite a similarly-sized overall state budget to the previous fiscal year.
  • Increased the audit threshold for small nonprofits in Illinois effective January 1 of next year from $300,000 to $500,000, meaning nonprofits with under half a million in charitable contributions no longer have to undergo time-consuming, expensive, and burdensome full-scale audits.
  • Passed legislation requiring music venues with over 1,000 capacity to have opioid antagonists, such as NARCAN, onsite.
  • Enacted critical Freelance Worker Protections by passing legislation that guarantees workers will be paid within 30 days of completing work.
  • Advocated for re-appropriating $50 million in COVID recovery funds, avoiding a situation where funds expired on June 30, 2023 before reaching applicants.

Illinois Arts Council Agency (IACA) Budget Increase

The overall FY24 budget (SB 250) passed by the Illinois General Assembly reflects $50.7 billion in projected revenue for the upcoming fiscal year, which is roughly the same as last fiscal year. That budget includes a substantial increase to the Illinois Arts Council Agency (IACA) FY24 budget of 13.3% more in State support than last year, from $13.6 million to $15.5 million. The budget increases most IACA individual line items by 10%. Additional highlights:

  • Grants and financial assistance for arts education increased by 28.8% ($383,300), in addition to a 10% boost ($82,500) in support for the Arts & Foreign Language (AFL) grant program.
  • Funding for Illinois Humanities rises by 57.5% ($345,000), significantly more than the Governor’s initially proposed 10% increase.

Federal funding also increased by 12.8% ($150,000) to $1.3 million. This, combined with State funds, results in an overall IACA budget of $16.8M in FY24: a big increase in a State budget based on a flat revenue forecast, and a larger percentage than many other state agencies received.

Our 2023 – 2025 Policy Agenda calls for an increase in state funding to IACA to $50 Million. There is more work to be done to achieve this goal and bring Illinois investment in the creative sector into alignment with its importance to the state’s overall economy. Arts Alliance will continue to push for increased state funding for IACA in this year’s legislative session.

The Audit Threshold

Illinois’ small nonprofit organizations have long been burdened by the State’s annual requirement that nonprofits must go through a full audit if they receive over $300,000 (“audit threshold”) in solicited contributions during the year – the most draconian nonprofit audit requirement in the nation. But this is about to change.

On June 30, 2023, the Governor signed HB1197 (PA 103-0121) into law, increasing the audit threshold to $500,000 in annual charitable contributions. Nonprofits that raise $300,000–$500,000 will only be required to conduct a financial review, which is not as expensive (or time consuming!) as a full audit.

The law takes effect on January 1, 2024 and will sunset on January 1, 2029, which will give us the opportunity to advocate for increasing the audit threshold to an even higher level.

This new law helps advance equity in the nonprofit arts sector. Scores of small arts nonprofits, many led by and serving BIPOC communities, will finally be free of the financial and administrative burden of having to get the State-required annual audit. 

Forefront spearheaded this overall campaign, with Arts Alliance, Illinois Collaboration on Youth, Illinois Partners for Human Service, and the Illinois CPA Society serving as the leading advocacy partners. We are grateful for all the hard work of this coalition to fight for this important reform which will bring relief to small nonprofit arts organizations across the state.

Music Venues and NARCAN

Taking effect on June 1, 2024, HB1557 (PA 103-0020) requires music venues to have opioid antagonists, such naloxone (NARCAN), available onsite. There must also be a staff member onsite who has been trained on how to properly administer it. The law applies to music venues that have a capacity exceeding 1,000 persons and that hold a live musical performance for which tickets are sold to benefit a for-profit entity. The law also provides complying music venues with certain liability protections.  This law will help save lives. In 2021, more than 3,000 Illinoisans died of opioid overdose, a 36% increase from 2019.

Freelance Worker Protection

According to a new Freelance Worker Protection bill, clients must pay freelance workers within 30 days of completing work unless a written contract between the two parties says otherwise. Clients will also not be allowed to require a freelance worker to accept a lower payment than stipulated in the contract in exchange for timely payment.

HB 1192 is currently awaiting the Governor’s signature. If signed into law, it will take effect July 1, 2024. We urge the Governor to sign this important legislation.

Capital Day and our shared Policy Agenda

This year, the Alliance developed and implemented new advocacy strategies and activities to amplify our sector’s voice including our first-ever Capital Day, held in Springfield on April 25. Over 135 advocates across Illinois joined local advocacy teams and held more than 50 legislator meetings.

The conversations on Capital Day were informed by our new 2023-2025 Policy Agenda, built using community input gathered through community conversations held last fall across Illinois.

As we continue to build a sustainable structure for bringing together advocates in our collective call for a more equitable arts future in Illinois, we always welcome your feedback and ideas. Email our Director of Community Organizing at to get in touch.

Arts Alliance Illinois thanks its many partners – arts nonprofit organizations, individual artists, arts educators, and creative businesses – across Illinois for their work this Spring legislative session. Join us as a member and sign up for our newsletter if you haven’t already so we can continue to tackle our shared agenda together.

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