Arts For Illinois Relief Fund FAQ

published: March 30, 2020

The Arts for Illinois Relief Fund (AIRF) is a statewide effort that provides financial relief to artists and arts organizations with urgent need due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The fund is a public-private partnership between the City of Chicago, the State of Illinois, the broader philanthropic community, and the residents of Illinois. The fund is managed by Arts Alliance Illinois and implemented by partnering organizations 3Arts and Arts Work Fund.

This FAQ page is for artists in Illinois seeking to apply for financial relief. 

Who is eligible for this grant?

  • To be eligible, you must be able to answer “Yes” to all of these questions.
    • Illinois is my home base and geographic focus.
    • I am legally able to receive taxable income in the U.S. (e.g. citizen, permanent resident, and/or any other person who can provide a W9 and SSN or ITIN).
    • I am a practicing artist capable of providing examples of creative work made within the last two years.
    • I am at least 18 years of age.
    • I am not currently enrolled in a degree program (e.g. Bachelor’s or Master’s; if pursuing a Ph.D., coursework must be completed).
    • I am experiencing financial loss and/or hardship due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
    • Any artist working in any one of the following disciplines is eligible: dance, film & media arts, interdisciplinary, literary arts, teaching arts, theater, and visual arts/design. (Read specific eligibility for about each discipline)

How do I prove eligibility?

  • Applicants must provide proof of residence in Illinois. A photocopy or a picture of a valid Illinois Driver’s License or State ID is preferred. However, if either is not available, or are not updated with your current Illinois address, we offer alternatives on the application (e.g. utility bill, bank statement, lease/mortgage).
  • Applicants must choose one of three options to provide evidence of a current artistic practice (work made within the past two years). The material provided should indicate date(s) made or presented:
    • Link to your artist website if it includes recent samples of work, OR
    • Upload up to three (3) image, audio, and/or video files of recent work, OR
    • Link(s) to online audio or video documentation of recent work

What can I use the funding for?

  • This is unrestricted funding that you may use for any kind of relief. You do not need to reveal to us how you spend the money. This fund is intended to help artists experiencing financial losses or hardship as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Is this award taxable?

  • If awarded, you will need to consult with an accountant or tax advisor to determine if this grant is taxable income in your specific situation. See Page 4 (top right) at this link
  • Each person's tax obligations will differ based on individual circumstances. 3Arts must require applicants to complete an IRS Form W9 in order to be considered for this grant.

How do I complete the W9 form requirement?

  • We offer three options on the application: 1) Download the form directly from Complete it digitally or print and take a picture, then upload the signed form into the field on the application. 2) Or, follow the secure link to HelloSign (provided on the application) to complete and submit the form digitally. 3) Or, if either of the above options do not work for you, please write to us at 
  • Please note: You must complete the W9 as an Individual/Sole Proprietor and provide a valid SSN/ITIN, only. You may not complete the W9 as an S-Corp or provide an EIN.

Why do you require a W9 and my Social Security Number or Individual Taxpayer ID Number?

  • A W9 and Social Security Number (SSN) or Individual Taxpayer Identification Number (ITIN) are required by the IRS in order for 3Arts to distribute these grants to artists. Collecting this information at the application phase will allow us to distribute funds more quickly to selected grantees.
  • 3Arts will not retain sensitive information beyond the time frame required by our auditors and so that we may produce required 1099 forms for grantees and their tax reporting obligations at the end of the year.

I would like the application provided to me in another format. What do I do?

  • We have alternative versions of the application available, including in Word, PDF, and Spanish language.
  • If you need any of these formats, or an alternate version of another kind, please send your request to

I am artist with a residence in Illinois and another state. Am I eligible for this grant?

  • Your proof of residence must show a current Illinois address, and, Illinois must be your primary home base and geographic focus. If you fulfill both of these criteria and you periodically maintain residence in another state, you are still eligible. If you have questions about this, please write to

How and where can I apply?

  • Use the link on our website to access the application via the Submittable platform. If you’ve used Submittable before and have an existing account, simply enter your login credentials to begin. If it’s your first time using Submittable, you will need to create an account. This is a simple and speedy process.
  • If you have any technical issues on Submittable, please contact

Can I apply more than once?

  • No. Once you submit an application, you are not able to re-submit. However, if your application is not selected in one cycle, and we are anticipating a refueling of funds, your application will automatically be re-entered into any subsequent round(s).

Why are you collecting demographic data from applicants? Who has access to this data? 

  • Arts for Illinois is committed to equity and inclusion throughout this process. We view data as an essential tool to practice and be accountable to this commitment.
  • As an applicant, your data will be viewed by a team of 3Arts staff and other independent reviewers engaged by our organization (6-7 people).  
  • Individual applicant data (including name) will not be shared, duplicated, or distributed publicly.
  • Aggregate applicant data will be collected, analyzed, and shared in summary on reports to funders and/or the public, without disclosing any personal information.

How will the grants be selected?

  • Applications will be reviewed for eligibility. Incomplete applications will not be considered. 
  • Following equitable practices, selections are based on a lottery process. Each application is assigned a number and randomized, and applications are then selected for review according to funder restrictions* and AIRF's commitment to equity and geographic representation, with 70% of the grants distributed to artists of color and artists with disabilities.
  • Grants will be distributed in phases to allow time for internal processing as well as communication to reach as many artists as possible, especially those who may not have immediate access to technology or other resources to complete an application quickly.
  • The page will be updated regularly with application time frames, and, during temporary closures, artists will be invited to add their names to a list to be notified personally when a new cycle opens.
  • If you are selected for a grant, we anticipate distributing funds within 15-20 business days of when an application cycle closes.
  • *For example, some funders are supporting artists in Chicago only, others are supporting performing or literary artists only, and some funders have restricted their contributions to artists outside of the seven-county metropolitan area. 
  • AIRF reserves the right to decline an application for any reason and at any time. 

What security measures are in place for the information I’m providing in this application?

  • The application platform (Submittable) operates with above-industry-standard security certificates and features for data collection and storage.
  • Our primary payment processing platform ( uses bank-level security, firewalls, and encryption.

If I’m awarded a grant, will my name be made public?

  • No. Personal information (including your name) will not be disclosed or publicized.

Am I able to get this grant more than once?

  • No. Due to the magnitude of this crisis, we anticipate many more requests for funding than there are funds to distribute. Therefore, our intention is to provide one-time relief to as many artists as possible.

If I don’t receive the grant, but the application process re-opens at a later date, do I have to submit another application?

  • No. Your submitted application will automatically be re-entered into any subsequent round(s) as funding becomes available.


Arts for Illinois Relief Fund FAQ Eligible Artistic Categories

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·       Applicants must choose one of three options to provide evidence of a current artistic practice: