Chicago launches pandemic relief fund to aid artists, creatives

A new relief fund launched by Chicago officials could give a boost to hundreds of artists and entertainment industry workers in the city who have lost income during the pandemic.

The $2.3 million Chicago Creative Worker Assistance Program will benefit members of the arts and entertainment industry with grants ranging from $2,000 to $5,000, the city’s Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events announced Thursday.

Arts administrators, teaching artists, artisans, curators, independent cultural producers and technicians who lost income over the last 18 months due to coronavirus restrictions will be eligible for the aid, the Chicago Sun-Times reported.


Mayor Lori Lightfoot said in a statement she hopes the funding can provide relief for creatives because many of them are gig workers whose pandemic unemployment insurance benefits have expired.

"The pandemic took a particularly devastating toll on our arts and culture community as shows were canceled, music venues were closed, and artists faced financial insecurity," Lightfoot said.

DCASE Commissioner Mark Kelly said he’s looking forward to the city’s talented artists returning to the spotlight this fall along with the resurrection of entertainment venues, which are gearing up for a busy end of the year.

The relief fund’s announcement comes nearly a week after Navy Pier hosted "Chicago LIVE Again!" — a two-day outdoor festival that celebrated the return of live performances.