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JB Pritzker

Nora Daley
Board Chair

Joshua Davis-Ruperto
Executive Director



Illinois Arts Council Announces Bold New Changes to Enhance Equity, Increase Statewide Impact

For Artists – Tuesday, February 6, 2024

The Illinois Arts Council (IAC) today announced bold new changes to the grant and funding process to enhance equal access to public arts funding throughout the state.

In 2023, the IAC began an overall assessment of its granting programs, policies, and procedures. As a first step, the IAC embarked on a statewide listening tour hosting 34 town hall meetings in over 20 counties attended by over 150 organizations as well as individual artists, legislators, and local government officials.

Concurrent with the listening tour, the IAC partnered with the National Assembly of State Arts Agencies (NASAA) on a quantitative and qualitative review of our current grant programs, policies, and procedures to identify funding gaps and help reduce barriers to receiving support.  The data driven analysis and conversations throughout the state have informed the next chapter of the IAC. The final report and recommendations, Illinois Equitable Grant Making Assessment Initiative (EGAIN) can be found here.


The IAC will better align public resources to communities across Illinois by restructuring and revamping all IAC grant opportunities as well as updates to our policies and procedures.

  • The IAC divided the state into six distinct regions allowing Program Directors to oversee entire communities as opposed to artistic disciplines. This establishes a more direct relationship with rural and under-resourced communities and strengthens re-granting partnerships. The newly created six regions will allow for more equitable funding across Illinois’ communities. The Chicago Metro Region will also be further divided into subregions to better serve distinct communities within our largest urban setting.
  • In FY25, the General Operating Support grant, which serves organizations and communities, will become a 3-year grant cycle. This multi-year simplified application and final report will only include information necessary to determine feasibility and organizational health.
  • A cash match will no longer be required for applicants to ease the burden on small and emerging organizations.
  • The IAC funding formula will be updated ensuring an equitable regional distribution of funds, as well as priority given to historically under-resourced communities.
  • An updated Youth Employment in the Arts program will fund organizations looking to provide paid internship opportunities for individuals from ages 14-22.
  • In FY25, the IAC will also launch a new grant program for individual artists called the Creative Accelerator Fund. Rather than restrict resources to the production of a specific project, this program will provide holistic support to Illinois artists. A primary goal of the program is to bolster a creative workforce that composes a significant portion of Illinois’ creative and economic activity.
  • IAC established a communication department in the agency with a focus on a refreshed brand, website, and strategy to reach artists, organizations, and community stakeholders, expanding virtual and statewide in-person grant writing workshops and informational sessions.
  • IAC began partnering with other state and federal agencies to provide access to additional granting opportunities and resources for the creative sector. The Illinois Creative Collaborative will continue to expand its work with state and federal agencies in the years ahead.

“The arts community in Illinois is one of the most storied and diverse in the country, and IAC’s ongoing work to support artists represents the value my administration places in arts education and investment,” said Governor JB Pritzker. “These changes to the funding process reflect months of active listening and community engagement and I am proud of the work IAC has done to ensure our arts community will only grow stronger in this new phase.”

“The information gathered throughout the past year made it apparent that for the agency to remain good stewards of public funds, the IAC can no longer move forward with business as usual. Granting opportunities and processes must adapt to the realities of a sector struggling to recover from the global pandemic. We must also acknowledge barriers communities have faced to receiving state funding in the past and adjust so all Illinoisians have equal access to support for the arts.” says Joshua Davis-Ruperto, Executive Director, Illinois Arts Council.

 “This process was extremely valuable in evaluating existing funding gaps as well as the current needs of the artists, arts and cultural organizations, and communities statewide. As a result, the IAC has taken a deep dive into its grants and processes and made significant changes to best support the arts throughout Illinois while lightening the burden on our constituents. The arts and culture sector account for $29.7 billion of the Illinois economy and supports more than 216,700 jobs. Our sector is made up of small to large-sized businesses. Our artists are entrepreneurs. We are economic drivers.” says Nora Daley, Board Chair, Illinois Arts Council.

A series of webinars outlining all the upcoming improvements will be held February 14 and 21. More information can be found on the IAC website