The Illinois Arts Council Agency (Council) improves economic vitality and quality of life in Illinois by investing grant funds in the nonprofit arts sector, advancing arts education, providing technical assistance, and promoting an encouraging atmosphere for creative artists to live and work.
The Council recognizes that the best work happens outside of isolation. We are Better Together. Our goal is to “Generate Connectivity” through communication, cooperation, and celebration. The Council continues to exercise its mandate by building and sustaining collaborations and partnerships across Illinois.
Over the past two years, the Council met its goal to “Generating Connectivity” by equalizing opportunities in communities in which individuals lack access to arts programs due to geography, economic conditions, age and diversity.
Example of projects funded:
- In partnership with the Local Arts Network, the Illinois Arts Council Agency created an initiative that works directly with underserved communities to bolster existing arts programming in a way that would allow for state and federal funding. The first community visited in Fiscal Year 2020 was East St. Louis. Over a six month period a town hall meeting was held to assess the needs of local non-profit cultural arts groups, a workshop on grant writing was held for numerous organizations in the region, and the Jackie Joyner-Kersee Foundation accepted the designation of Local Arts Agency in order to disperse Illinois Arts Council Agency Community Arts Access funding throughout the region.
- Through the General Operating Support grant, the IACA funded ARTReach’s Project FIRE; an artist development employment program that offers healing through glassblowing, mentoring and trauma psychoeducation, supports trauma recovery, and creates jobs for youth injured by violence. Glass blowing can be a dangerous art form. It requires a level of trust that forces youth to work together in a new way, often times across gang lines. This program helps students realize that there are other opportunities available to them. Each class ends with a one-hour support session for those involved to speak freely about their personal experiences.
- Through the Summer Youth Employment in the Arts grant, IACA funded four high school students to work for the Little Theatre on the Square. The theatre presents high quality, professional live productions in the cornfields of Central Illinois. Sullivan, IL is a town of only 4,400 people, yet 40,000 people come to see their productions each year. Their work has a direct impact on the economy
In response to the COVID-19 pandemic:
- The Illinois Arts Council Agency assisted in distributed $525,800 in National Endowment Cares Act funding. To have the largest impact with the limited funds, the Agency distributed these dollars to arts organizations below a $500,000 operating budget threshold with a focus on rural communities and minority lead organizations. Over 200 organizations were supported.
- Special Events, 3Arts, and the Arts Work Fund, the Illinois Arts Council Agency helped distribute COVID-19 relief dollars to arts organizations and creative workers around the state. Since its launch on April 1, 2020, the Arts for Illinois Relief Fund awarded $6,909,450 to 2,493 artists and 269 organizations.
- The Illinois Arts Council Agency worked with Arts Midwest to distribute relief funds to 30 Midwestern arts and culture organizations through the United States Regional Arts Resilience Fund. Included in the list of those funded were Illinois-based organizations American Indian Center, Congo Square Theatre, Enrich Chicago, National Museum of Mexican Art, and Threewalls. Illinois support totaled $255,500 in COVID-19 relief grants. The Resilience Fund’s goal is to invest in historically under-resourced arts and culture organizations across the United States as they work to weather the COVID-19 pandemic. In line with these priorities, 22 of the funded organizations are led by and serving people of color and/or Indigenous communities and 11 are based in rural areas.
- The Illinois Arts Council Agency partnered with Illinois Humanities to host an online town hall for constituents across the state. This meeting offered information related to the release of Illinois’ portion of the Cares Act funding and included an in-depth discussion on the application process for the Federal Small Business Loans and the Paycheck Protection Plan. The Town Hall included representation from the National Endowment for the Arts and Americans for the Arts.
Through the Poetry Out Loud initiative, the IACA encourages students to learn about great poetry through memorization and recitation. The program assists in the development of teaching students to master public speaking skills, build self-confidence, and learn about literary history and contemporary life.
For fiscal year 2021:
Grant Applications Received 1,582
Grant applications Funded 1,067
Grants (in Thousands) $12,224,640