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Creating a Connected Illinois


To build a strong, creative, and connected Illinois through the arts


The Illinois Arts Council was created as a state agency by the Illinois General Assembly in 1965 through legislation sponsored by Senators Paul Simon, Thomas McGloon, and Alan Dixon.  The agency is governed by up to twenty-one private citizens chosen for their demonstrated commitment to the arts and appointed by the Governor. Council members serve in a voluntary, non-paid capacity and are charged with developing the state’s public arts policy, fostering quality culturally diverse programs, and approving grants expenditures. A small professional staff with in-depth knowledge of the arts develops and administers the agency’s programs, provides technical assistance, and ensures the responsible and impactful distribution of all funds. Resources to support the Illinois Arts Council  are provided by the Governor and General Assembly of Illinois and the National Endowment for the Arts.

What We Do

The Illinois Arts Council serves the people of Illinois through a variety of grants and services, primarily geared to: 

  • Support Illinois' Arts Sector: Operating and technical support provided to organizations and programs statewide helps keep Illinois’ arts sector vital, vibrant, and accessible to all.
  • Advance Arts Education: The arts can be a part of the education of every single child in this state through the programs, services, partnerships, and collaborations of the Illinois Arts Council. 
  • Foster Creativity and Working Artists: Resources, opportunities, and direct support for the work of individual artists -- the foundation of Illinois' creative environment.

It is illegal for the Illinois Arts Council or anyone receiving assistance from the Illinois Arts Council to discriminate on the basis of race, color, religion, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, non-binary and gender non-conforming employees, sexual harassment, national origin, ancestry, citizenship status, physical or mental disability, political affiliation, beliefs, age, order of protection status, any other non-merit status, marital or parental status, pregnancy, arrest record, military status, veterans status or unfavorable discharge from military service. Any individual who has been subject to such discrimination may file a complaint with the Illinois Department of Human Rights at (312) 814-6200 or TTY (312) 263-1570.


The Agency is governed by a Council comprised of up to twenty-one private citizens, from throughout Illinois, who are appointed by the Governor. Chosen for their demonstrated commitment to the arts, the Council members are charged with developing the state's public arts policy, fostering quality culturally diverse programs, and approving grants expenditures. These members serve in a voluntary capacity for four-year terms.

Advisory readers composed of sector professionals from throughout the state and nation are appointed by the Council Chairman to assist the Council in the review of grant applications and to lend expertise on policy and program development. Readers are selected through open nominations and serve for one-year terms.

A professional Staff administers and develops the Council's programs, assists grant applicants and provides pertinent information to the public. The Arts Council staff provides technical assistance and lends expertise to artists, arts organizations and community organizations that present arts programming.