CHICAGO — Artists who have found themselves out of work and needing financial help amid the coronavirus outbreak still have a shot at getting relief through a statewide grant program.
Mayor Lori Lightfoot announced Monday that the Arts For Illinois Relief Fund is taking applications again after it received a $1.5 million infusion of donations.
“We pride ourselves on being a city of artists and I want to keep it that way,” Lightfoot said. “I don’t want anyone in our city to think that they only can follow their passion by going to New York or California.”
The artist relief fund, which was originally allocated $4 million, drew an overwhelming response after it was launched in early April. The fund received more than 8,500 applicants, according to a fund spokeswoman.
Because of the overwhelming response, officials had to temporarily stop accepting applications and raise more money.
The new $1.5 million came from several different donors, including foundations and private individuals.
The fund provides one-time, $1,500 grants to artists and entertainment industry workers struggling amid the crisis. Nonprofit arts and cultural groups also are eligible for grants for up to $30,000.
So far, more than $3.3 million has been awarded to 906 artists and 166 cultural organizations across the state, according to the fund spokeswoman.
In a news release, Arts Alliance Illinois executive director Claire Rice said they’re grateful to foundations and individuals who have stepped up to donate, but still more is needed to keep the program going.
“We must keep fundraising because the need is so great,” Rice said. “Artists and creatives, some of our most valued community assets, can also be some of our most vulnerable: many living paycheck to paycheck with little savings, stringing gigs together to make a living. What’s more, often these individuals supplement their income by working in the other devastated industries: restaurants, childcare, and private transportation.”
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