Chicago wouldn’t be Chicago without its artists. Painters, filmmakers, sculptors, dancers, musicians, theater makers, writers: artists help us tap into our own creativity, to see the world in new ways, to share experiences in communal spaces.
But as the COVID-19 pandemic unfolds, these communal spaces have shut down. And too many artists aren’t sure how they’re going to make rent this month. Or next.
As social distancing quickly becomes the new normal, many artists whose paycheck-to-paycheck livelihood depends on the next gig find themselves looking at an empty calendar for the next several weeks (at least). An empty calendar means no income. For gig-to-gig freelancers, there’s no paid time off. There’s no work-from-home option for DJing a gallery opening, or acting in a world premiere production, or dancing for a packed club.
The fund recognizes the inequity inherent in our communities - globally, nationally, locally, and often especially in the arts. Even in times of stability, many working artists are able to pursue their careers with the help of family wealth, the support of a partner, or work in other fields, and many benefit from other social privileges connected to race, gender, sexuality, size, ability, citizenship status, and more. (As Ijeoma Oluo, organizer of the Seattle Artists Relief Fund, writes, some of us are in “the rare and privileged position to be able to weather this [crisis] financially. Many are not.”) The fund recognizes that government agencies, institutions, and non-profits do not or are not able to prioritize those whom inequity affects most on a daily basis, even outside times of crisis. As such, the Fund prioritizes artists who are Black, Indigenous, People of Color, Queer, Trans+, Non-Binary, and Disabled, but will endeavor to support as many Chicago artists as possible.
Please pitch in to our relief fund for our fellow artists!
This fund was created by Chicago-area artists in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. We allocate microgrants of up to $300 each in order to support our colleagues in the greater Chicago arts community who are experiencing financial repercussions due to pandemic-related cancellations.
Priority will be given to BIPOC [Black, Indigenous, and People of Color] artists, trans+ & nonbinary & queer artists, and disabled artists - but we aim to help as many Chicago-area artists in need as possible. Our ability to do that will depend on how much we can raise.
If you’re an artist with resources to spare, please consider contributing to support your colleagues. If you’re a lover of the arts, please consider contributing directly to the individuals who devote their lives to creating for our city.
If you are an artist in need of relief funds, click here to take our application survey and apply for relief.
**Please note: our application form is currently closed. Sign up here to be notified when it opens.**
Confidentiality and transparency statement:
The Chicago Artists Relief Fund is managed by a group of community volunteers. Bios can be found here. Though organizational affiliations are listed, each individual is acting on their own behalf, not as a representative of the organizations with which they are affiliated.
All application information is kept confidential by the organizers and is not shared with any outside parties. Please view our more detailed confidentiality agreement, signed digitally by all members of the team, here.
100% of contributions are allocated directly to artists who apply to the fund. No volunteer receives any percentage.
We are following best practices for internal record-keeping to ensure every dollar is accounted for. We will update the community as funds are allocated.
Citing our sources:
We gratefully acknowledge writer and activist Ijeoma Oluo and her Seattle Artists Relief Fund, which inspired us to start this effort for the Chicago region.
Who are we?
We are an independent group of artists in the Chicago area, not officially affiliated through anything other than a shared love for our community. Alphabetically by first name, we are:
Learn more about us here.
Image design by Michelle Underwood.
Please email firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Arts Section
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(This list will be continually updated as we become aware of new opportunities:)
Brave Space Alliance's Crisis Pantry
COVID-19 Freelance Artist Resources
Chicago COVID-19 Hardship and Help Page
Chicago Theatre Workers Relief Fund
Chicago COVID Resources
The Dancers Fund
Stimulus Package for Humanity: Micro-Commissions for Art at the Intersection of Social Justice and the Pandemic
Old Town School Staff and Faculty Assistance Program
Pride South Side Studio
The Actors Fund (for everyone in entertainment, not just for actors!)
Arts for Illinois Relief Fund
Arts Leaders of Color Emergency Fund
Artist Relief Tree
Americans for the Arts's Coronavirus (COVID-19) Resource and Response Center
Dramatists Guild Foundation
Emergency Funds for Freelancers
EqualSound Corona Relief Fund (for musicians)
Illinois Artists of Color Emergency Grants
National Coalition for Arts' Preparedness and Emergency Response
SAG-AFTRA's COVID-19 Disaster Fund
COVID-19 Trans/Queer Relief Form
Season of Concern
Queer Writers of Color Relief Fund
We love you, Chicago.
- Susan Carlson
- Mary Morten
- Tanera Marshall
- Diana Clegg
- Genevieve James