COVID-19 Update: 4/1- Pritzker announces Arts for Illinois Relief Fund to help artists and creatives during COVID-19

By Jacob Lorenz and Bethany Rentfro

Update 4/1/2020

Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker announced the new Arts for Illinois Relief Fund to help artists, creatives and cultural organizations who are struggling financially during the coronavirus pandemic at his press conference on Wednesday. 

This fund was created by Pritzker’s wife Mary Muenster (M.K. Pritzker) and it has already raised over $4 million in grant programs for both non-profit art organizations and individual artists, including stage and production managers. 

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The Arts Alliance of Illinois brought together sponsors and partners to launch the Arts for Illinois Relief Fund. 

This fund will provide immediate support to full-time and part-time community workers and arts organizations through a grant process. 

Arts for Illinois also launched a free online platform featuring performers, singers, poets, painters, writers and other Illinois creatives who have made their work available for the public. 

Pritzker listed some of the other performances available on the online platform, such as musicals called Quarantine Concerts, features from children’s theatres and even the Lyric Opera of Chicago. 

“The arts have always been of great importance to me and my family,” Pritzker said. “Of course, so many of the usual ways of enjoying art together have had to be put on pause and tragically, our creative communities have felt the financial hardships.”

Pritzker said anyone who is interested in donating to the fund should visit the Arts for Illinois website: artsforillinois.org. 

Artists and organizations can also apply for grants through the website. 

Amanda Williams, an Illinois artist from Chicago, said she is thankful to Pritzker for the support he has shown for the Arts for Illinois Relief Fund. 

“I’m seeing firsthand how artists are hurting from this crisis,” Williams said. 

Williams said it isn’t just visual artists who are struggling during this outbreak but it is also performers, musicians, production managers and so many others. 

Williams said a global pandemic will not stop artists from doing the things that give their lives purpose and meaning. 

“We will not stop making, creating, inspiring, challenging, bearing witness and bringing hope,” Williams said. “In fact, that is all we know to do in these moments. We need the arts now more than ever.” 

Williams said she hopes this emergency fund will help local artists to keep their lights on or bridge them until their next payments are due. 

“This is a crisis and we understand the severity,” Williams said. “But our hope is that this provides some light, some beacon of hope. I know the uncertainty and pain you are feeling but I hope we can all lean on generosity.” 

Williams said this is also a great educational tool for young children and parents during this time because it exposes kids to different kinds of art forms. 

“This has something for everyone, for every age and new content will be added daily,” Williams said. “If you are an artist interested in adding content, please also reach out.”

Staff reporter Bethany Rentfro can be reached via email at [email protected]

To stay up to date with all the latest news, follow the Daily Egyptian on Facebook and Twitter. 

Update 3/31/2020:

Chloe Schobert | @chloscho_art2020
Statistics of Illinois COVID-19 cases as of March 31, 2020.

COVID-19 cases in Illinois increased by 937 and deaths increased by 26, according to Illinois Public Health Director Dr. Ngozi Ezike. 

The total is now 5,994 cases and 99 deaths in Illinois. 

The CDC’s new guidance says people should be concerned about spreading the virus 24 to 48 hours before symptoms show, Ezike said. 

“This is further evidence we need to stay home,” Ezike said. “You can’t eyeball someone and think you know if they’re sick or not.” 

Gov. J.B. Pritzker also extended the stay-at-home order through April 30. 

“Saving as many lives as possible is the one goal I will put above all others — every time,” Pritzker said. 

Prizzker said the Department of Corrections has released 300 inmates to free up space for inmates and staff with COVID-19. 

The inmates being released are low-level offenders and near the end of sentences and pregnant women. DOC is reviewing each inmate release carefully to make sure no one has a history of violence.

Staff reporter Jacob Lorenz can be reached at [email protected] or on Twitter at @jtlorenz6. 

To stay up to date with all your southern Illinois news, follow the Daily Egyptian on Facebook and Twitter.

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