The Chicago Creative Worker Assistance Program will provide 450 – 500 relief grants to low and moderate income artists and creative workers who are residents of Chicago and have lost income due to the COVID-19 pandemic, including freelance artists, arts administrators, teaching artists, artisans, curators, independent cultural producers and creative industry technicians such as stage managers, theater and music technicians, art handlers, preparators, cinematographers, and film lighting technicians/gaffers. Grants will range from $2,000 - $5,000.
We anticipate many more requests for funding than there are funds to distribute. Grants will be distributed via a lottery system.
The Chicago Creative Worker Assistance Program application is now closed.
Submit all other questions to the Chicago Creative Worker Assistance Program Team online:
The COVID-19 pandemic has placed unprecedented strain on the arts and culture community, with most music venues, galleries, theaters and museums shuttered for over a year and many still unable to operate at full capacity, leading to a vast shortage of employment opportunities for Chicago’s creative workforce. Additionally, many artists and creatives are gig workers whose pandemic unemployment insurance benefits have expired. To support artists, creative workers and their families, the City of Chicago Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events, in partnership with Allies for Community Business, has established the Chicago Creative Worker Assistance Program.
To be eligible to apply for a Chicago Creative Worker Assistance Program grant, individuals must meet the following criteria:
• Be a resident of the City of Chicago, Illinois with a valid street address (no PO boxes). A Driver’s License, State I.D., Chicago CityKey, or Consular Identification card showing Chicago address must be provided.
• Be at least 18 years old.
• Must have a 2020 annual household income that does not exceed the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) established Low to Moderate Income limits for the Chicago Metro Area ($52,200 or less for a single individual, $74,550 or less for a family of 4).*
• Must have experienced lost income due to the COVID-19 pandemic of $2,000 or more as documented by reported difference in 2019 and 2020 income. Alternatively, a self certified list of cancelled gigs can be submitted to verify lost income due to COVID-19.
• Be a professional artist/creative worker (including artists, freelance artists, arts administrators, teaching artists, artisans, curators, independent cultural producers and creative industry technicians such as stage managers, theater and music technicians, art handlers, preparators, cinematographers, and film lighting technicians/gaffers) as evidenced by current, recent resume, CV, website, or list of past exhibitions, performances, publications, and/or other artistic activities.
• DCASE defines a professional artist/creative worker as someone who:
o Is actively creating, curating, teaching, producing, distributing, administering or executing creative/artistic work
o Has at least a two-year history (since at least 2019) of public presentation, publication and/or employment in the arts.
• Must work within one of the following artistic disciplines: Dance; Film & Media Arts; Interdisciplinary; Literary Arts; Music; Theatre; and/or Visual Arts/Design. DCASE has broad definitions of each of these disciplines. Please click on the disciplines to see detailed listings of qualifying genres and sub-disciplines. If you are unsure if your work qualifies, please contact the Chicago Creative Worker Assistance Program Team: English/Spanish.
• Must not be a City of Chicago employee.
*2020 household income must be less than 80% Area Median Income (AMI). Household income based on the household size listed on your tax return can be found online at: https://www.chicago.gov/content/dam/city/depts/doh/general/2021_HUD_income_limits.pdf
All eligible individuals will be entered into the lottery system. Individuals meeting the following criteria will be prioritized:
• Individuals that are residents of LMI (Low and Moderate Income) community areas.*
• Individuals whose pandemic unemployment insurance (UI) benefits have expired.
• Individuals whose 2019 annual household income does not exceed the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) established Low to Moderate Income limits for the Chicago Metro Area.
* DCASE defines LMI communities as zip codes with an average household income of less than 60% Area Median Income (AMI)
• Grantees reporting lost income of $5,000 or more will receive grants of $5,000.
• Grantees reporting lost income of less than $5,000 will receive grants tailored to fill income gaps.
• Grants will be made in a single, one-time payment.
• Applicants will be screened for eligibility and grantees will be selected from the eligible applicant pool via a lottery system.
• All grant recipients will be taxed on the amount awarded. The percentage will be based on your taxable income bracket. Allies for Community Business will send 1099 Forms to all grantees.
• Individual applicant data (including name) will not be shared, duplicated, or distributed publicly.
• Smartsheet operates with standard security certificates and features for data collection and storage.
Grants are intended to cover lost income and to be put towards general living expenses. Grants may not be used for property taxes, legal settlements, or reimbursement to other parties for goods or services previously donated.
This grant program is funded by Coronavirus Relief Funds (CRF), established by the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES Act). In alignment with CRF guidelines, no costs being paid for with this grant can be double-counted against the proceeds of any other federally-sourced funds or other financial assistance you may be receiving, if any. The total assistance received from all sources may not exceed the total lost income due to COVID-19.
• 10/20: Application opens
• 11/10: Application closes at 5:00pm CST
• By mid-December: Grant recipients are chosen via lottery and all applicants are notified of results.
• By the end of December: ACH payments distributed.
What You Need to Apply
• Contact Information
• Artistic Discipline
• Financial information including 2020 income, 2019 income, and lost income due to COVID-19
• Proof of Chicago Residency: A current, valid Driver’s License, State I.D., Chicago CityKey or Consular Identification card showing Chicago address must be provided. Due to state expiration deadline extensions, IDs with expiration dates in March 2020 and later are considered current.**
• Resume, CV, link to artist website, or list of past exhibitions, performances, publications, or other artistic activities
• Optional: September 2021 bank statement with name of the applicant or copy of voided check. This is not required but will help expedite payment if you are selected as a grantee.
• Optional (ONLY needed if the difference between 2020 and 2019 income is less than $5,000 AND less than the actual lost income due to canceled gigs/events) – List of canceled gigs/events that resulted in income loss including the specific location/venue of the event(s) cancelled; the date(s) of the event cancelled; and the amount of income projected from each cancelled event.
**If your ID does not show your current Chicago address, you can upload a lease or utility bill in addition to your ID to prove your Chicago residency.
How To Apply
We strongly recommend submitting your application earlier than the stated deadline. Late or incomplete applications will not be accepted or reviewed.