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Chicago Announces New $60 Million Citywide Funding For Artists, Concerts, And New Public Art

By Elliot McGowan

Chicago Announces New $60 Million Citywide Funding For Artists, Concerts, And New Public Art

The budget for public art in the City of Chicago will increase from $100,000 a year to $3 million.

Mayor Lori Lightfoot, the Chicago Park District, and the Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events have announced an investment plan of over $60 million to support local artists and organizations. The citywide recovery plan is being named “Arts 77” and will support all 77 of Chicago’s community areas through a range of programs and initiatives.

A release that was posted on Chicago.gov earlier today explains that Arts 77 “signals a new direction for Chicago’s cultural policy, in which the arts are embedded in initiatives and strategies across the City government. This plan seeks to expand access and participation in the arts citywide, prioritize the employment of creative workers through City programs and services, and deepen public sector investment in the creative sector through financial support and cultural policy.”

New and expanded programs will now be launched across Chicago including individual Artists Program grants, Artist Response Program grants, $18.5 million in art and infrastructure investments, and ‘Culture in My Neighborhood’ which is a $40 million collaboration by DCASE, the Chicago Park District, and Chicago Public Library).

A Neighborhood Access Program will also fund $1 million worth of grants ranging from $5,000 to $50,000 “designed to be responsive to the complex needs of individual communities” while the new Chicago Presents Program will offer grants up to $30,000 “to support cultural presenters activate cultural programs… spanning across all genre’s music, performance and dance.”

According to the commissioner of the Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events, Mark Kelly, “It’s unprecedented and it’s right for the times. It means it is no longer ‘DCASE delivers the arts’ but the entire city government is now involved. It’s embedding the arts in the city. Think of this as a new Works Progress Administration project for the entire city.”

In the same interview, Kelly explained that the budget for public art in Chicago up until now has been as little as $100,000 per year. This will now be drastically increased and the city’s capital budget will inject $3 million a year into for next five years.

There will also be $3.5 million in funding towards new public art in Chicago’s O’Hare Airport as part of the O’Hare International Airport Terminal 5 Expansion Project. 

$3.5 million will be used to “celebrate the work of Chicagoland artists through large-scale commissions and acquisitions and to provide international visitors a dynamic and welcoming first impression of our city.” 30 Chicago-area artists will be a part of the project, reportedly the largest single acquisition of works by Chicago artists for over 30 years.

Additional updates regarding grants and programs will be available in the coming weeks but for now, all information can be found at www.chicago.gov/arts_77.

See more: 22 Must-See Street Art Murals That Prove Chicago’s Art Scene Is Legendary