City of Chicago Announces Performing Arts Venue Relief Grants

October 2, 2020

Grants Will Be Distributed to Theater, Dance and Music Venues That Have Experienced Devastating Losses of Income Due to the COVID-19 Pandemic

Christine Carrino, 312.656.6108

Jamey Lundblad


CHICAGO, IL — Mayor Lori E. Lightfoot and the Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events (DCASE) announce the new Performing Arts Venue Relief Program to help performing arts venues which have lost significant revenue due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Applications open Monday, October 5, and the program will provide $10,000 grants to up to 120 for-profit and nonprofit Chicago-based performing arts venues who have been closed to performances. The 2020 City of Chicago Performing Arts Venue Relief Grants Program was created, with support from the Walder Foundation and the Arts for Illinois Relief Fund and in partnership with Accion, to support this critical arts and culture sector with the challenges they face from the pandemic.

"Performing arts venues are incredibly important to our City because they make up the fabric of our neighborhoods," said Mayor Lightfoot. "In order to keep this rich, diverse part of our City's culture alive, it is critical that we continue to provide space and support for our artists, cultural workers and performing arts companies. I am proud to work with DCASE on this initiative and look forward to finding more innovative ways to help out our performing arts community during these uncertain times."

Eligible entities must be located in Chicago, have a PPA (Public Place of Amusement) or Music and Dance license, and primarily produce or present performing arts programming – including theatre, dance, performance art, and/or live music or live mixing by DJs. Complete eligibility criteria and applications will be available at beginning on Monday, October 5. Completed applications must be received by October 23 for consideration and grants will be distributed on a lottery system to qualified recipients. Individuals, corporations, and charitable foundations interested in supporting Chicago’s performing arts venues are encouraged to donate through the Arts for Illinois Relief Fund at

Performing arts venues have faced large challenges due to the COVID-19 pandemic since they focus on bringing people together for live, shared experiences. With ongoing expenses for their facilities still accruing, these businesses and organizations are still experiencing significant losses of income. They will also be some of the last to reopen at full capacity, and when they do, will have to drastically rethink capacity, seating, staging, and other considerations that will impact their recovery.

Funds will be allocated through an equity lens that considers the history of disinvestment and the disproportionate burden of COVID-19 on the South and West sides of Chicago. The program will prioritize funding organizations located on the South and West sides, in Low and Moderate Income (LMI) community areas, and organizations that have not received grants through the Arts for Illinois Relief Fund or the City of Chicago’s Together Now program.


Chicago Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events

The Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events is dedicated to enriching Chicago’s artistic vitality and cultural vibrancy. This includes fostering the development of Chicago’s non-profit arts sector, independent working artists and for-profit arts businesses; providing a framework to guide the City’s future cultural and economic growth, via the 2012 Chicago Cultural Plan; marketing the City’s cultural assets to a worldwide audience; and presenting high-quality, free and affordable cultural programs for residents and visitors.


Walder Foundation

The Walder Foundation was established by Joseph and Elizabeth Walder to address critical issues impacting our world. The Foundation’s five areas of focus—science innovation, environmental sustainability, the performing arts, migration and immigrant communities, and Jewish life—are an extension of the Walders’ lifelong passions, interests, and their personal and professional experiences.


Arts for Illinois Relief Fund

The Arts for Illinois Relief Fund accepts donations of all sizes from individuals, foundations, and public sources to support Illinois’ creative community at In response to the unprecedented strain on the arts and cultural community from the COVID-19 pandemic, the Arts for Illinois Relief Fund was created to provide financial relief to workers, organizations and businesses in the creative industries that have been impacted by the crisis. Since its launch on April 1, 2020, the first rounds of funding, administered by Arts Alliance Illinois in partnership with 3Arts and Arts Works Fund, have awarded $6,909,450 to 2,493 individual artists and 269 organizations around the state. Current donations will support this Performing Arts Venue Relief Program.


Accion Serving Illinois & Indiana

Accion helps neighborhood entrepreneurs grow by providing the capital, coaching, and connections small business owners need to create wealth and jobs throughout Illinois and Indiana. By partnering with entrepreneurs, Accion offers the most cost-effective way to invest in underserved communities. Accion offers small business loans to qualified borrowers and provides free coaching to any entrepreneur who wants to grow their business. Learn more at


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