Press Release

Nearly $500K in Covid-19 Emergency Relief Grants Announced

Will Support Humanities Organizations Across 46 Illinois Counties

CHICAGO, June 11, 2020 — Illinois Humanities announced today it will award 130 COVID-19 Emergency Relief Grants, totaling $497,500, across 46 Illinois counties, to small museums, libraries, performing arts venues, and other cultural and community centers. The purpose of these grants is to help humanities organizations throughout the state to weather the pandemic.

As events, festivals, camps, venue rentals and summer seasons continue to be cancelled, humanities organizations across Illinois are struggling to survive. Arts and cultural organizations who applied for the grant reported more than $11 million in current and projected losses through 2020 and amongst grantees nearly 25% have already had to lay off staff.

“As the impact of COVID-19 continues to devastate Illinoisans, Illinois Humanities is more committed than ever to ensuring our diverse humanities organizations are not only equipped to survive the pandemic but also able to pivot the ways in which they creatively provide programming.” said Illinois Humanities Executive Director Gabrielle Lyon, PhD. “These organizations serve as anchors for our state’s history, culture and livability. They are central to our ability to reopen and rebuild – and, most of all, come back together in community.”

Funds for the relief grants are primarily provided by the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) through the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act of 2020 and supplemented by donations raised during Illinois Humanities’ May 21st Public Humanities Award event.

One of the grant recipients for this round of grants, Wabash Roots’n’Que Festival, located in Mt. Carmel, in southeastern Illinois, has been hit hard by COVID-19, according to festival music and education director Dennis Stroughmatt, who has also been a Road Scholar in partnership with Illinois Humanities. “We’ve lost most of our funding, traditionally raised from March to May in preparation for the June festival,” said Stroughmatt. “Private donors, about 50 percent of our funding, have seen their personal finances get hit hard. We’d hit a wall in fundraising. We can let out a big sigh of relief – somebody actually believes in what we’re doing.”

The work of the Chicago Poetry Center, another of the grant recipients from this round, has been heavily impacted by the pandemic. According to the Center’s executive director, Elizabeth Metzger Sampson, locations where it runs programs, including public schools, have been closed, and the Center has also seen a heavy dent in fundraising. “A quick pivot to virtual programming meant that we could continue to support our students while resources are severely compromised, support our Poet teaching artists while jobs are scarce…,” said Metzger Sampson. “Having the support of Illinois Humanities gives us the assurance to continue pushing for change and providing support to our greater Chicago community.”

Grant recipients received awards of $2500, $5000 or $7500 based on the organization’s budget size. Approximately half of the grants (63) were awarded to organizations based within Cook County and the other half (67) to organizations based outside of Cook County. Applicants were ranked in terms of factors including a demonstrated history of public humanities programming, budget size, geographic location, statement of need, and financial challenges inflicted by the pandemic.

Illinois Humanities will continue to offer opportunities to apply for COVID-Relief funding through the summer. The next application deadline is June 15th. Click here to learn more. In addition to COVID-19 Emergency Relief Grants, Illinois Humanities offers funding opportunities through its Community Grants program, “Activate History” and its “Envisioning Justice” initiative as well as ongoing free, online, public programs.

The 130 organizations funded by this round of COVID-19 Relief Grants include:

·      Atlanta — Atlanta Public Library and Museum
·      Aurora — Aurora Regional Fire Museum
·      Belleville — Center for Racial Harmony
·      Bloomington — McLean County Museum of History
·      Buffalo Grove — The Raupp Museum
·      Byron — Crossroads Blues Society
·      Carbondale — Heterodyne Broadcasting
·      Carbondale — Carbondale Community Arts
·      Carlinville — Macoupin County Historical Society
·      Cedarville — Cedarville Area Historical Society
·      Centralia — Centralia Area Historical Society
·      Champaign — Preservation And Conservation Association Of Champaign County (PACA)
·      Chicago — 6018North
·      Chicago — 826CHI
·      Chicago — About Face Theatre Collective
·      Chicago — Al Raby Foundation
·      Chicago — American Blues Theater
·      Chicago — Balzekas Museum of Lithuanian Culture
·      Chicago — Bronzeville Black Chicagoan Historical Society
·      Chicago — Charnley-Persky House Museum Foundation
·      Chicago — Chicago Blues Museum
·      Chicago — Chicago for Chicagoans
·      Chicago — Chicago Latino Theater Alliance (CLATA)
·      Chicago — Chicago Youth Shakespeare
·      Chicago — CivicLab Inc.
·      Chicago — Collaboraction Theatre Company
·      Chicago — contratiempo nfp
·      Chicago — Crossing Borders Music
·      Chicago — Deeply Rooted Dance Theater
·      Chicago — Definition Theatre Company
·      Chicago — Design Museum of Chicago
·      Chicago — eta Creative Arts Foundation
·      Chicago — Fifth House Ensemble
·      Chicago — Fireband Theatre
·      Chicago — Free Write Arts & Literacy
·      Chicago — Full Spectrum Features
·      Chicago — Fund for Innovative TV DBA Media Burn Archive
·      Chicago — Gilloury Institute DBA Silk Road Rising
·      Chicago — Glessner House
·      Chicago — Global Girls, Inc.
·      Chicago — Guild Literary Complex
·      Chicago — In My Brothers Shoes
·      Chicago — International Children’s Media Center
·      Chicago — Intuit: The Center for Intuitive and Outsider Art
·      Chicago — Kartemquin Educational Films
·      Chicago — Kuumba Lynx
·      Chicago — Lithuanian Archives Project
·      Chicago — Logan Square Chamber of Arts
·      Chicago — Musical Arts Institute
·      Chicago — Muslim American Leadership Alliance
·      Chicago — NAJWA Dance Corps
·      Chicago — NON-OP, INC (NON:op Open Opera Works)
·      Chicago — OPEN Center for the Arts
·      Chicago — Pilot Light
·      Chicago — PlayMakers Laboratory
·      Chicago — Poetry Center of Chicago
·      Chicago — Public Media Institute
·      Chicago — Puerto Rican Arts Alliance
·      Chicago — Que4 Radio
·      Chicago — Silent Theatre Company
·      Chicago — Sixty Inches From Center
·      Chicago — South Side Community Art Center
·      Chicago — South Side Weekly NFP
·      Chicago — Still Point Theatre Collective
·      Chicago — Strategy for Access Foundation NFP
·      Chicago — The Haitian American Museum
·      Chicago — The Paper Machete Group Inc, NFP
·      Chicago — The Rebuild Foundation NFP
·      Chicago — The Ukrainian National Museum
·      Chicago — Third Coast International Audio Festival “Third Coast”
·      Chicago — Young Chicago Authors
·      Danville — Red Mask Players
·      Decatur — African-American Cultural & Genealogical Society of Illinois
·      DeKalb — Preservation of Egyptian Theatre, Inc.
·      Dunlap — Wheels O’ Time Museum
·      East Moline — Quad Cities Jazz Festival, LTD
·      East Peoria — Eastlight Theatre
·      Edwardsville — Madison County Historical Society
·      Elgin — Children’s Theatre of Elgin
·      Elgin — Elgin History Museum
·      Elgin — Hamilton Wings
·      Elmhurst — MWAH! Performing Arts Troupe
·      Freeport — Stephenson County Historical Society
·      Galena — Galena Center for the Arts
·      Galesburg — Galesburg Civic Art Center, Inc.
·      Greenup — Cumberland County Historical & Genealogical Society
·      Greenville — American Farm Heritage NFP
·      Hillsboro — Imagine Hillsboro Theater Group
·      Hinckley — Hinckley Historical Society
·      Ipava — Easley Pioneer Museum Foundation, Inc.
·      Jacksonville — Jacksonville Main Street
·      Joliet — Joliet Area Historical Museum
·      La Grange — La Grange Area Historical Society
·      La Salle — Hegeler-Carus Foundation
·      La Salle — Canal Corridor Association
·      Lawrenceville — Lawrence County, Illinois, Historical Society
·      Lerna — Lincoln Log Cabin Foundation
·      Libertyville — David Adler Cultural Center d.b.a. Adler Arts Center
·      Lincoln — Lincoln Heritage Museum
·      Magnolia — Magnolia Township Preservation Association
·      Mahomet — Museum of the Grand Prairie
·      Marion — Thebes Historical Society
·      Mount Vernon — Jefferson County Historical Society
·      Mt. Carmel — Market Street MTC NFP dba Wabash Roots’n’Que Festival WRNQ
·      Ottawa — Reddick Mansion Association
·      Pekin — Tazewell County Genealogical & Historical Society
·      Peoria — Artists Reenvisioning Tomorrow Inc.
·      Peoria — East Bluff Community Center, NFP
·      Pinckneyville — Illinois Rural Heritage Museum, Inc.
·      Pittsfield — Abe Lincoln Project/Looking for Lincoln in Pike County
·      Pontiac — Greater Livingston County Arts Council
·      Princeton — Bureau County Historical Society
·      Quincy — Historical Society of Quincy and Adams County
·      Riverwoods — Brushwood Center at Ryerson Woods
·      Robbins — Robbins Historical Society Museum
·      Rock Island — Colonel Davenport Historical Foundation
·      Rock Island — Genesius Theatre Foundation
·      Rockford — Midway Village Museum
·      Savanna — Savanna Historical Society NFP
·      Springfield — Hoogland Center for the Arts
·      Springfield — Illinois Route 66 Heritage Project Inc.
·      Springfield — Illinois State Historical Society
·      Springfield — Illinois State Museum Society
·      Springfield — Springfield Theatre Centre
·      St. Charles — St. Charles History Museum
·      Toulon — Stark County Historical Society
·      Union — McHenry County Historical Society & Museum
·      Watseka — Iroquois County Historical Society
·      West Peoria — The Corn Stock Theatre
·      Wheeling — Korean Cultural Center of Chicago


About Illinois Humanities
Illinois Humanities activates the humanities through free public programs, grants, and educational opportunities that foster reflection, spark conversation, build community, and strengthen civic engagement. Illinois Humanities is a nonprofit organization and the state’s affiliate for the National Endowment for the Humanities. Learn more at and on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and LinkedIn @ILHumanities.