Legislative Session ended in the early hours of the morning on June 1st, 2021. There’s more than 4,000 pages of overall legislative language to comb through, and additional updates are still coming. Join the IL Arts Action Network Facebook group or sign up for our newsletter to get the most recent updates on this campaign.
COVID has devastated our state’s creative sector, yet the arts remain an economic engine to power a resilient Illinois recovery. Our state must invest in arts and culture in order to come back stronger.
Through the Illinois Creative Future Fund campaign, we are advocating for Illinois to invest $500 million from federal American Rescue Plan assistance over the next four years in the relief, recovery, and resilience of Illinois’ creative sector, prioritizing BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, and People of Color) rural, and other communities disproportionately impacted by COVID.
This investment would activate the full, diverse power of Illinois’ creative sector through:
- Independent Venues ~ $100 million: Grants to venues to prevent closures by helping cover core operating costs, as well as recovery grants to rebuild/reopen, and funds for venue-centered community development projects.
- Performing Arts, Arts Education Organizations, & Film ~ $100 million: Support of performing arts (music, dance, theater, arts education) organizations and film via relief grants, recovery grants to rebuild/reopen, funds for start-up performances, and grants increasing arts & culture access.
- Museums, Visual Arts, & Cultural Heritage ~ $75 million: Funding to assist museums, galleries and cultural heritage organizations in keeping their doors open/continuing programming, adjusting exhibits and programs to the realities of pandemics, supporting community healing, and telling their neighborhood COVID recovery stories.
- Workforce Development ~ $75 million: Support for resurgence of Illinois’ creative workforce by cultivating an equitable, career development pipeline into creative industries; earn-and-learn job training for creative workers; and provide support for artists who also want to apply their skills to work in other sectors (e.g., health care, advanced manufacturing).
- Arts Education ~ $75 million: Grants to school districts for classroom arts education, utilizing the student engagement and Social-Emotional Learning (SEL) strengths of the arts to support student recovery from COVID impacts, as well as funding for teacher professional development and support for new pathways into the arts teaching profession.
- Capital / Infrastructure ~ $75 million: Funding for arts capital projects, with a focus on supporting local arts organizations throughout the state in adapting their facilities to the realities of pandemics.
The full $500 million would be appropriated into a new, dedicated fund in FY22 for use over the next four years. The dollars should be safeguarded against diversion to other purposes and require the least amount of annual assembly action / reappropriation as possible. Implementation would be through multiple state agencies, based on which are best positioned to administer particular grant programs. IACA, DCEO, and experienced nonprofit intermediaries will be strong partners.
Why $500 million? Why now?
- Illinois must be competitive: 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, California legislators are championing a $1 billion package for the arts.
- The creative sector is a jobs generator: It contributes $30 billion to Illinois’ economy annually and employs nearly a quarter million workers. [US BEA]
- The arts have been hit particularly hard by COVID: Arts venues were the first to close and are likely last to reopen. Unemployment insurance claims in the creative industries have grown by more than 300% (Jan. 2020-2021), twice the rate across all industries in Illinois. [US DOL]
- The proposed funding prioritizes equity: The 2020 unemployment rate (66%) among BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, and People of Color) artists in Illinois was higher than the rate (52%) among white artists. [AFTA]
- In-demand fields need creative workers: The healthcare, marketing, IT, and other fields need digital video editors, graphic designers, writers, and communications specialists, to name a few. Over 70% of companies rate creativity as a primary concern when hiring. [CB/AASA]
- Our students need the arts now more than ever: Arts education contributes to social & emotional learning (SEL), vital to students’ ability to recover from the COVID crisis. Arts learning helps produce perseverance, foster self-awareness, and strengthen student engagement. [Varner]
- When the arts thrive, everybody wins: In addition to being an economic powerhouse, the arts bolster neighborhood vitality, address long-standing inequities, and help heal and rebuild our spirit in this time of crisis.
Leadership Coalition Partners
This proposal is strongly supported by a diverse, statewide coalition. Coalition partners include: