Arts for Illinois Relief Fund

published: Sept. 14, 2020

Update as of 10/27/20: The selection process for emergency grants to individual artists through the Arts for Illinois Relief Fund is now complete. All applicants were notified as of September 8. AIRF grants to individual artists will be on hiatus until or unless an additional refueling of funds takes place. Stay tuned to the Arts for Illinois website for other updates

Summary of grant support: More than 9,100 artists across the state applied for emergency relief through AIRF, with funding to support 2,493 since this effort began in April. A total of $3,739,500 has been distributed directly into the hands of Illinois artists. Based on the amount and restrictions of support by funders, the geographic distribution of grantees includes 69% within the City of Chicago (representing 58 zip codes), 22% from collar counties in the metropolitan region, and 9% from elsewhere across the state (representing 99 different municipalities). Later in 2020, AIRF will produce a summary of this relief effort. For privacy and security reasons, data on individual artist grantees (including names and addresses) will not be distributed publicly, as stated on our FAQ page.

Overview of AIRF: 3Arts is a partner in the Arts for Illinois Relief Fund (AIRF), 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.

3Arts managed the distribution of funds to Illinois artists based on an open application process. (Emergency support for arts organizations was managed by Arts Work Fund.)

Through AIRF, 3Arts issued $1,500 unrestricted, one-time grants to as many eligible artists as possible, given the total funding available. Grant selections were based on a lottery system. Any applications not selected in one round were automatically re-entered into subsequent cycles for consideration. Please read our FAQ page for further details on eligibility, the application and selection process, and grant distribution. 

Because of the magnitude of this crisis, we received more requests for funding than there were funds to distribute. Following equitable practices, the grants were 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. 

Due to our small staff, we have limited response capacity. Should you have any additional questions that our FAQ page does not answer, you can reach us at:



Arts for Illinois Relief Fund FAQ Eligible Artistic Categories

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