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Struggling Live Venues Can Get Up To $10,000 From New City Relief Fund Lottery

The city said 120 eligible applicants will be randomly selected for the coronavirus relief grants.

A sign on the door at the Empty Bottle.
David Leep/Fabio Brienza
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CHICAGO — Struggling theaters, music venues and other performing arts centers in Chicago could get up to $10,000 in coronavirus relief money under a plan announced by the city Friday.

Venues across the city are suffering due to months-long coronavirus-related closures. It’s been estimated that 90 percent of live music venues won’t survive.

While the owners, operators, performers and fans await financial help from Congress, the city said it will administer grants to eligible venues under a new Performing Arts Venue Relief Program. It is being funded in part by the Walder Foundation and the Arts for Illinois Relief Fund and in partnership with Accion.

RELATED: 90 Percent Of Chicago’s Independent Music Venues Will Close Because of Coronavirus, Desperate Owners Say

Applications will be accepted starting Monday. The city said 120 for-profit and nonprofit applicants will be awarded up to $10,000 each.

To be eligible, an applicant must be in Chicago, have a Public Place of Amusement or Music and Dance license and primarily produce or present performing arts programming. That includes theater, dance, performance art and/or live music or live mixing by DJs. 

Eligibility criteria and applications will be available at beginning Monday. Applications must be received by October 23. Grants will be distributed on a lottery system to qualified recipients, the city said.

The city said anyone interested in supporting Chicago’s performing arts venues are encouraged to donate through the Arts for Illinois Relief Fund at

A haunting video was recently made to highlight the plight of the city’s independent music venues, which have been closed for six months amid coronavirus.

The video, set to metal band Varaha’s “Irreparable” and showing the empty stages and bars at 17 Chicago-area venues and many more, is an attempt to get people to support #SaveOurStages, a national campaign calling on Congress to save music venues, said Fabio Brienza, the band’s guitarist and vocalist who directed and produced the video.

Sponsored by Senators John Cornyn (R-TX) and Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), the Save Our Stages bill would help independent music venues, small theaters, comedy clubs and event promoters across the nation.

Block Club Chicago’s coronavirus coverage is free for all readers. Block Club is an independent, 501(c)(3), journalist-run newsroom.

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