COVID-19 arts funds

When there’s good and bad news, it’s best to get the latter first. So, here it is: the state’s cultural organizations are facing losses of approximately $84 million in revenue due to COVID-19-related cancelations. These closures impact more than 3,500 full-time jobs and 13,000 part-time/contract jobs, plus nearly 2.5 million audience members.

Fortunately, there’s good news! Grants are available to statewide artists and arts organizations thanks to the Arts for Illinois Relief Fund, which is the result of a partnership between the city of Chicago, the state of Illinois, and general philanthropy.

“The nonprofit arts and culture sector in Illinois contributes at least $4 billion annually to the state’s economy. The impact of COVID-19 will have a long-term impact on the health of the industry and its economic role in the city and state,” says Claire Rice, executive director of Arts Alliance Illinois, which is co-administering the fund with 3Arts and Arts Work Fund.

“The arts and cultural community is deeply embedded in the fabric of Chicago,” says Mayor Lori Lightfoot and First Lady Amy Eshleman. “Our cultural institutions—from the one-room artist studio to the 1,500-seat theater—employ artists, back office staff, ushers, curators, ticket takers and others. Many artists supplement their work by providing arts education in our schools. All of these individuals contribute to the city’s vibrant arts and cultural sector, which has been temporarily halted.”

As such, more than $4 million has been committed to seed a campaign to provide additional funding. The city’s Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events (DCASE) has contributed $1 million to the relief effort, along with gifts from the Walder Foundation and John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation.

Through the Arts for Illinois Relief Fund, individual artists (including stage and production members and part-time cultural workers) impacted by COVID-19 may apply for one-time grants of $1,500 distributed by 3Arts. Grants will be awarded through a lottery system. Nonprofit arts and cultural organizations of any size may apply for grants from $6,000 to $30,000 through the Arts Work Fund. Applications are available at

“The arts and cultural community have proven that despite devastation caused by COVID- 19, we can all come together to support each other and provide Illinoisans this incredible resource to experience so many different forms of art while at home,” add Governor J.B. Pritzker and First Lady M.K. Pritzker, who is co-chairing fundraising activities with First Lady Eshleman.

“When the time comes for us to once again gather in person—and that time will come—we must remember this amazing community of creative individuals who have graciously made available their work to entertain us. Until then, we encourage everyone to support this incredible community by appreciating their art in new ways.”

Individuals, corporations and charitable foundations interested in donating to the Arts for Illinois Relief Fund may visit

In addition, the state has partnered with business leaders on the Illinois COVID-19 Response Fund so local community foundations and nonprofits can help support residents in need. To learn more, visit

Ms. Arvia is a Rebellious columnist and movie critic; entertainment ghostwriter; award-winning artist; and grant-winning filmmaker.