Arts Work Fund

Effective March 30, 2020

The Arts Work Fund is temporarily shifting all its grant making to provide unrestricted general operating support to help small arts and cultural organizations that are struggling with immediate lost revenue and non-recoverable expenses due to COVID-19. All other grant making is on hold because we are allocating our entire grant budget to this new effort.

AWF Emergency Relief Fund

In partnership with the Arts For Illinois Relief Fund and the City of Chicago Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events, the AWF Emergency Relief Fund is accepting requests for funding to support operations of organizations that are struggling with immediate lost revenue and non-recoverable expenses due to COVID-19.

  • This grant opportunity is open to all arts organizations in Illinois.
  • The majority of funds available will be for organizations located in and service Chicago.
  • Organizations by, for, and about people of color will be more strongly considered for funding at this time.

The Arts Work Fund Emergency Relief Fund will be put on pause on April 15, 2020 at 5:00 p.m. to allow time for processing Round 1 applications and for additional fundraising for Round 2. The application for Round 2 will reopen on Monday, May 4 at 9:00am CST

To receive an email notification when the application reopens, please enter your name and contact information at this link:

What You Need to Know

  • All funding will be unrestricted.
  • Organizations must hold 501c3 nonprofit status from the IRS and operate in and serve Illinois.
  • Grant size will range between $6,000 – $30,000, dependent on organization budget size and the extent of lost revenue and non-recoverable expenses incurred due to COVID-19.
  • Applications may be submitted on a rolling basis. We will do our best to respond within ten business days of your submission, and to get grant checks disbursed within 30 days or less.

Organizations are eligible for grant amounts based on annual expenses for the most recently-completed calendar or fiscal year:

Budget Size Grant Amount
$100,000 and under $8,000
$100,000-500,000 $12,000
$500,000-800,000 $16,000
$800,000-1.5 million $20,000
$1.5 million+ $30,000


The following organizations are not eligible for this funding opportunity:

  • Organizations whose primary mission is related to social services (juvenile justice, housing, community development) but also have an arts program.
  • Stand-alone or one-time festivals, conferences or other events.
  • Stand-alone publications, films/videos or websites.
  • Religious-based activities.
  • Groups that are legally, financially or operationally part of a larger institution, e.g. the art department of a college.

A short application will require the following information:

  • Completion or updating of The Chicago Community Trust’s organizational profile.
  • In Question #2 of the short application form in GrantCentral, please provide: A description of the impact COVID-19 has had on immediate lost revenue or non-recoverable expenses to your organization. Please be as specific as possible.
  • Any additional information you would like to provide about your organization and your current situation.


To apply for funding, please log in to GrantCentral and navigate to the Funding Opportunities tab. We will try to accommodate as many requests as possible and will do our best to respond quickly.

Find upcoming grant opportunities in Grant Central