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City announces $2.3M relief fund for artists, creative workers impacted by pandemic

Chicago artists and creative workers who have been financially impacted by the pandemic could soon find relief from the city.

DCASE Commissioner Mark Kelly said, “Chicago’s arts landscape has been devastated by the pandemic, but I’m excited to see our talented artists and venues come back to life and energize Chicago.”
DCASE Commissioner Mark Kelly said, “Chicago’s arts landscape has been devastated by the pandemic, but I’m excited to see our talented artists and venues come back to life and energize Chicago.”
Tyler LaRiviere/Sun-Times

Chicago artists and creative workers who have been financially impacted by the pandemic could soon get some relief from the city.

The Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events on Thursday announced a $2.3 million relief fund for creatives who have been suffered a loss of income during the pandemic.

The Chicago Creative Worker Assistance Program will benefit hundreds of members of the arts and entertainment industry by dispensing financial assistance grants ranging from $2,000 to $5,000 by the end of this year, according to a release from the mayor’s office.

Arts administrators, teaching artists, artisans, curators, independent cultural producers and technicians who lost income over the last 18 months due to coronavirus restrictions will be eligible for the aid.

Mayor Lori Lightfoot is hoping this news provides a major sigh of relief for creatives since many are gig workers whose pandemic unemployment insurance benefits have expired.

“The pandemic took a particularly devastating toll on our arts and culture community as shows were canceled, music venues were closed, and artists faced financial insecurity,” Lightfoot said in a statement.

“Revitalizing our arts and culture scene is essential to our ability to recover from this pandemic on both an economic and a social level. I am proud to offer continued support and relief to the artists and creators who bring us beauty, culture, and experiences that make us human.”

The announcement comes nearly a week after Navy Pier hosted “Chicago LIVE Again!” — a two-day outdoor festival that celebrated the return of live performances.

DCASE Commissioner Mark Kelly said he’s looking forward to the city’s talented artists returning to the spotlight this fall along with the resurrection of entertainment venues, which are gearing up for a busy end of the year.

“Chicago’s arts landscape has been devastated by the pandemic, but I’m excited to see our talented artists and venues come back to life and energize Chicago,” Kelly said.

The Chicago Creative Worker Assistance Program is scheduled to launch in mid-October, with an application deadline in November. Grantees are expected to receive funds before the end of this year.

The city is planning to offer a second wave of financial assistance grants for creative workers next year, according to a release from the mayor’s office.

DCASE will host virtual information sessions about the Chicago Creative Worker Assistance Program Oct. 26 at 3 p.m. and Oct. 27 at 10 a.m. Creatives can register to learn more about the financial assistance at ChicagoCulturalGrants.org.