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County to provide $1.5M in grants for suburban arts and culture nonprofit organizations

Cook County President Toni Preckwinkle announced Tuesday, Jan. 23, the launch of a new grant program to assist arts and culture organizations in building resiliency in the post-pandemic economy.

The Nonprofit Relief Grant Program is a component of Cook County Arts, a $5 million pilot arts initiative funded by the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA). Cook County Arts focuses on suburban communities as many artists and organizations there are ineligible for major funding opportunities available through the City of Chicago.

The deadline to apply is Feb. 29 with awards announced before June. For detailed information on eligibility and how to apply, visit

The Cook County Bureau of Economic Development is spearheading the initiative, which will include relief grants, creative placemaking investments and new research on the suburban arts sector.

“Suburban nonprofit arts organizations have not had access to significant COVID-19 recovery resources, and Cook County aims to fill this gap for the cultural sector,” Preckwinkle said. “Culture and creativity serve as critical elements in thriving communities as they provide opportunities for joy, human connection and affirmation. Cook County is committed to exploring ways to build support for the cultural sector into our ongoing community-building initiatives.”

In this phase of the initiative, Cook County will provide $1.5 million in grants to nonprofit arts organizations to mitigate the lingering effects of the pandemic on the cultural sector. The arts and culture sector was among the hardest-hit industries in the pandemic, and organizations continue to face significant challenges due to changing operational needs and declines in both earned and contributed revenue.

Eligible nonprofit arts organizations may apply for $5,000 or $10,000 grants depending upon the size of their operating budget. Applicants must be a registered 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization located in suburban Cook County with a primary mission focused on arts and culture programming. These unrestricted grants will help support the work of suburban museums, theaters, arts festivals and more.

The County is partnering with Arts Alliance Illinois to conduct outreach to nonprofit arts organizations, host informational webinars and offer direct support to applicants throughout the grant period.

“Arts and culture organizations add so much to community well-being and the resiliency of local economies,” said Claire Rice, executive director of Arts Alliance Illinois. “Government support is core to ensuring these organizations can continue their necessary work, and we hope this relief program will serve as a steppingstone to a more resilient arts future for our suburban communities. The Alliance is eager to work alongside the County to help connect organizations in need with the relief funding they deserve.”

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