When Arts Alliance Illinois first announced the Illinois Creative Recovery Grant (ICRG), I could not help but think of the Bible story I loved as a child. You know, the one where the widow is gathering sticks to make the last meal for her and her son when she meets the hungry Prophet Elijah. He promises the widow that if she uses the last of her resources to make him a loaf of bread, her flour jar will never run dry. It’s been kind of like that for the creative sector, which was among the hardest hit by COVID-19. While some funding opportunities, including PPP, Back to Business, and Business Interruption grants, carried organizations through the early part of the pandemic, the arts community is still struggling.
Thanks to advocacy efforts by a statewide coalition led by Arts Alliance Illinois, the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity (DCEO) is now poised to distribute a historic $50 million in grant money to assist businesses, nonprofit organizations, sole proprietors, freelancers, and independent contractors in the arts.
Applicants can receive between $5,000 and $250,000, provided they were in operation on or before March 12, 2020. Funding amounts are based on declines in revenues experienced between 2019 and 2020 or between 2019 and 2021, whichever is greater. Businesses or organizations that received a BIG or B2B grant may apply, and applicants who launched businesses in early 2020 and do not have a comparison to 2019 are eligible to receive $5,000.
And, while grant writing can be daunting, Arts Alliance Illinois is providing several resources to make the process a painless one. Applicants are encouraged to visit artsalliance.org/creativerecovery to access webinars, grant eligibility guidelines, a help desk, and the application window.
A word for those with grant-writing-phobia: ICRG is not narrative-heavy and is based mainly on content derived from IRS tax forms such as 1040, 990, and 1065. There will be no reporting requirements after awards are received, and (and this is a big one!) all eligible businesses that meet the criteria and submit all of the program documentation will receive funding!
Please note: the deadline is looming: applications must be submitted by May 10 for consideration by DCEO.
To learn more about the Illinois Creative Recovery Grant, access the help desk and apply, visit www.artsalliance.org/creativerecovery or Illinois Department of Commerce & Economic Opportunity www.dceo.illinois.gov/smallbizassistance/b2b.html.