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Illinois arts get big boost from state capital plan

Arts projects statewide are set to share $50 million.

Claire Rice, Executive Director of Arts Alliance Illinois met with the Sun-Times Editorial Board Wednesday, April 4, 2018.
Claire Rice, executive director of Arts Alliance Illinois
Sun-Times file photo

Arts projects in Illinois can expect a $50 million boost from the state’s $45 billion capital spending plan, which Gov. J.B. Pritzker is expected to sign.

“We are having a great week — no doubt,” said Claire Rice, executive director of Arts Alliance Illinois, an arts advocacy group in the city. “Fifty million dollars is more than four times what the sector received in 2009.”

It’s too early to say just how the money will be divided up, but it will be administered by the Illinois Arts Council Agency, Rice said.

“I’m sure many people have ideas about where that money should go, but as for the alliance, we are of course encouraging for the council to consider geographic distribution, to consider audiences served and to really support the health and strength of the entire sector,” Rice said.

Among the projects in the city the Arts Alliance urged the state to support were improvements to the “outdated” seats at Lyric Opera of Chicago; a rehab of the historic South Side Community Arts Center; and the new $54 million addition at Steppenwolf Theatre, which will include a 400-seat theater-in-the-round, a wine bar, sidewalk lounge and an airy, two-story atrium.