Skip to main content

IAC Strategic Plan 2021-2026

The Strategic Plan reflects the mission of the Illinois Arts Council (IAC) and lays out a clear vision with distinct strategies for achieving the agency’s objectives over the next five years.

This Plan is intended to address the needs of Illinois’ varied rural, mid-size and urban communities throughout the state. It ensures that the IAC will make the arts accessible for all Illinoisans, including people with disabilities, older adults, veterans and those in traditionally underserved communities.

The IAC conducted a wide range of extensive research and outreach involving interviews, surveys, general feedback from stakeholder’s communities throughout Illinois, and input from agency Board Members and staff. This Plan seeks to build upon the IAC’s existing programs, partnerships, and resources by supporting Illinois’ traditions as well as developing opportunities for innovation. 


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


All Illinoisans benefit from widespread public support and participation in the arts.


We believe in the transformative power of arts and culture. Through grantmaking and services, we adhere to and promote the following values: ​

  • Advancing Equity and Access
  • Supporting a Creative Life
  • Empowering Communities
  • Strengthening the Creative Economy
  • Generating Connectivity
  • Providing Professional Development for IAC Staff

At the core of our plan is a set of objectives that maintain and advance the IAC’s commitment to investing in artists and arts organizations, while focusing on a commitment to access, inclusion, diversity, and equity as a key area for growth and impact.

Advancing Equity and Access

Ensure equity and access in programming and grant opportunities for all Illinoisans, including (but not limited to) individuals who identify with a specific geographic location, economic status, race, sexual orientation, gender expression, or ability.


  • Identify and promote policies and procedures that advance inclusion and equity.
  • Ensure that all individuals who apply to, work with, or otherwise interact with the IAC are treated with fairness and respect, and are afforded equal opportunities.
  • Increase the participation of historically underserved communities by fostering a diverse staff that is fully representative of the inclusive practices and fiscal and ethical responsibility of the Illinois Arts Council.
  • Through focused support, show that the IAC respects diverse traditions, heritages and experiences, valuing and recognizing the equal rights of all human beings.
  • Engage residents at the local level through continued and expanded support of folk and traditional arts.
  • Encourage and bolster constituent participation in conferences and webinars centered on Access, Inclusion, Diversity, and Equity.

Supporting a Creative Life

Nurture critical thinking and life skills through access and participation in high-quality learning opportunities in the arts, in and out of school.


  • Work to improve access to and increased inclusion of arts education in K-12 schools.
  • Grow and stabilize youth-employment programs in the arts through opportunities such as paid internships and apprenticeships.
  • Provide and support continuing professional development opportunities for artists and arts leaders throughout Illinois.
  • Ensure all IAC Arts-in-Education activities meet the new Illinois Arts Learning Standards.
  • Promote and support innovation in Arts-in-Education.

Empowering Communities

Build capacity for a community by strengthening the cultural, physical, and social character of localities across the state.


  • Identify and support existing community cultural assets.
  • Support arts programming in underserved and rural communities through direct funding and IAC resources.
  • Create focused outreach to underserved and rural communities with grant writing workshops and partnership/mentoring opportunities.
  • Sustain programs that are diverse in geography, culture, and activities by being responsive and adaptive to constituents’ needs.
  • Provide professional development opportunities for community arts leadership.

Strengthening the Creative Economy

Enhance the Illinois economy by supporting operations and boosting economic influence of the cultural not-for-profit sector across Illinois.


  • Promote the creative arts sector as a dynamic contributor to the vibrant economy and integral to improving the state’s quality of life.
  • Recognize and establish individual artists and arts organizations as entrepreneurs and small businesses vital to Illinois’ economy.
  • Establish fair compensation throughout the cultural arts community.
  • Support development of creative placemaking through partnerships and IAC resources.

Generating Connectivity

Create networks of mutual support among individuals, organizations, and the IAC in rural, mid-sized, and urban settings.


  • Grow the network of Local Arts Agencies throughout the state.
  • Expand staff presence throughout the state to connect with, listen to, learn from, and mentor constituents and stakeholders for a deeper engagement in the arts.
  • Expand IAC partnerships with organizations that share similar visions and goals; both for-profit and non-profit, foundations, corporations, and other state agencies.
  • Update the Agency’s technology to boost platform accessibility  for both staff and constituents.
  • Rework the IAC’s comprehensive website to better act as a primary source for state-wide arts and culture.

Providing Professional Development for IAC Staff

Encourage self-assessment and progressive thinking to create innovative solutions in the daily work of the agency with a focus on the revitalization of our state through the arts.


  • Offer training opportunities for staff related to technology and community development.
  • Educate staff on systemic racism and discrimination, and their historic and contemporary manifestations within the arts sector, and develop startegies to overcome these issues.
  • Facilitate additional staff participation in national conferences, webinars, and affinity groups.
  • Provide staff with opportunities for immersive community experiences throughout Illinois.