UPDATED: Federal, State + Local COVID-19 Loans for Galleries, Artists + Arts Groups


Every business that has had to close its doors to the public and suspend planned events and exhibitions is in need of meaningful support from multiple sources right now. As of today there are several avenues officially open for applying for financial assistance for galleries and small arts businesses. 

We are posting key information for you below and hope that you can get started right away to secure funds to keep your operations going and your staff paid during these unpredictable times. These are communications we have received via our aldermen as well as city and state offices. Good luck! Stay safe! If you want to talk to Emily or Ginny in the "office" email us.


An Overview: 

The Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act allocated $350 billion to help small businesses keep workers employed amid the pandemic and economic downturn. There are several kinds of loans and grants available. Because funds are limited, it is important to file as soon as possible. If you have a banker today, call them to make an appointment. However, you can apply online now for the EIDL loan below.

Economic Injury Disaster Loan Program - The Small Business Administration (SBA) is providing federal disaster loans to businesses of less than 500 employees, non-profits, sole proprietorships, independent contractors, and faith based organizations. Apply NOW at the SBA’s website. NOTE: you must have all information available with you when you apply. You CANNOT save an unfinished application.

Paycheck Protection Program, provides 100% federally guaranteed loans to small businesses. Under the program:

  • Eligible recipients may qualify for a loan up to $10 million determined by 8 weeks of prior average payroll plus an additional 25% of that amount.
  • Loan payments will be deferred for six months.
  • If you maintain your workforce, SBA will forgive the portion of the loan proceeds that are used to cover the first 8 weeks of payroll and certain other expenses following loan origination.

The administration is releasing details soon. In the meantime, see if you are eligible and find out needed paperwork by visiting the US Chamber of Commerce website.

SBA 7(a) Loans - These are the typical SBA loans. Under the CAREs Act,

  • The SBA will pay the principal and interest of new 7(a) loans issued prior to September 27, 2020.
  • The SBA will pay the principal and interest of current 7(a) loans for a period of six months.

Please contact your lender if you have a current loan, or the local SBA office

There are many helpful resources, and I strongly suggest that every business download these guides.


Artists: Apply for the Arts for Illinois Relief Fund

If you are a practicing artist, an Illinois resident, and experiencing financial loss or hardship as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, keep reading.

3Arts is a partner in the Arts for Illinois Relief Fund (AIRF), a statewide effort that provides financial relief to artists and arts organizations with urgent need due to the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. The fund is a public-private partnership between the City of Chicago, the State of Illinois, the broader philanthropic community, and the residents of Illinois. The fund is managed by Arts Alliance Illinois and implemented by partnering organizations 3Arts and Arts Work Fund.

3Arts is managing the distribution of funds to Illinois artists based on an open application process. (Emergency support for arts organizations is being managed by Arts Work Fund, using a separate application. Learn about that opportunity here.)

Through AIRF, 3Arts will issue $1,500 unrestricted, one-time grants to as many eligible artists as possible, given the total funding available.

Please read our FAQ page for further details on eligibility, the application and selection process, and grant distribution. 

Artists will be required to submit a W9 form in order to receive payment. There are multiple ways to provide us with that form. Please consult our FAQ page for options.

Because of the magnitude of this crisis, we anticipate more requests for funding than there are funds to distribute. Following equitable practices, the grants will be available and distributed in phases to allow time for internal processing as well as communication to reach as many artists as possible, especially those who may not have immediate access to technology or other resources to complete an application quickly. We will update this page with application time frames, and, during temporary closures while we wait to receive additional funding, invite artists to be notified personally when a new cycle opens.

Grant selections will be based on a lottery system. Any applications not selected in one round will automatically be re-entered into subsequent cycles for consideration.

Due to our limited response capacity, please refer to the FAQ and the application itself which will have further instructions. Should you have any obstacles or questions when completing your application that the FAQ page does not answer, you can reach us at:

Apply Now


Chicago Artist Coalition Grants

CAC is pleased to share that it is moving forward with its artist grants that are typically awarded in person each spring. Artist grants, which are more important than ever to our artist community will be awarded and celebrated electronically later this month and in early May. We recognize that now more than ever, artists need funds to support their studio practice. Stay tuned! 

In these uncertain times, it is empowering that nonprofit service organizations are providing the necessary resources to artists to continue their livelihood. Below are external resources offering emergency relief. Please contact the organizations listed directly if you have questions about any opportunity:

Closed but keep an eye if they re-open: 

Additional COVID-19 Resources: 

Arts for Illinois

Updated April 1: 

Today, Arts Alliance Illinois joined Governor JB Pritzker and Mayor Lori Lightfoot in launching Arts for Illinois — a collaboration between the State of Illinois, the City of Chicago, and members of the philanthropic community to support the statewide creative sector during the COVID-19 crisis.

This new platform will raise money for and provide direct relief to the creative professionals and cultural organizations that have been impacted by the shutdown. It will also serve as an online community where creatives share their work, connecting with the public while at home during these challenging times.

Through the newly launched Arts for Illinois Relief Fund, individual artists and artisans – including stage and production members and part-time cultural workers – experiencing an urgent need are able to apply for one-time grants of $1,500 distributed by 3Arts. Grants will be awarded through a lottery system and will be disseminated quickly. 

Additionally, nonprofit arts and cultural organizations of any size will be able to apply for relief through the Arts Work Fund. Based on their demonstrated financial need, organizations will be awarded grants from $6,000 – $30,000. More information about application guidelines and eligibility can be found online. 

Visit Arts For Illinois



Small Arts Businesses: City of Chicago Resiliency Fund

The Resiliency Fund has a team of trusted experts at your service to guide you through the application, underwriting and closing phases of your loan. Questions can be submitted in English and Spanish.

Due to the high expected demand, the number of Resiliency Fund loans will be limited. Applications will be reviewed on a rolling first-come, first-served basis. We therefore recommend applying as soon as possible. To get started please click here. In the event the website is overwhelmed, we recommend checking back often to submit your application.

Mayor Lori Lightfoot is committed to leveraging every dollar available to business owners from any source in order to provide as much funding as possible to Chicago's small businesses. The Resiliency Fund is structured to complement the new federal Paycheck Protection Program that the Small Business Administration (SBA) will launch soon. The City and its partners will seek to provide all Resiliency Fund loan applicants with the best offer available, including from the SBA's new program.  



To be eligible for a Resiliency Fund loan, a small business must meet the requirements below. 

  • Employ fewer than 50 employees, 50% of whom are Chicago residents
  • Have realized gross annual revenues of less than $3 million pre-COVID-19
  • Have suffered a revenue decrease of at least 25% due to COVID-19
  • Be located in the City of Chicago and have been in business for at least 1 year at of the date of application

To apply, please visit us here to start your application.

In the event that you/your business does not qualify for this program, please look at the City’s resource website to find other programs that may meet your needs.

Due to the recently passed federal stimulus package, your business may be eligible for aid from the federal government. 


COVID-19 Federal Programs Now Available

Due to the recently passed federal stimulus package, your business may be eligible for aid from the federal government. Learn more about the current available options below.

  • Paycheck Protection Program – The U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) will provide $349 billion in loans through the Paycheck Protection Program to small businesses and non-profits. Portions of these loans will be forgiven to the extent that recipients maintain their existing workforce or rehire. Loans can be up to $10 million and interest rates are maxed at 4% for portions of the loan that do not qualify for loan forgiveness. Learn more here.
  • Economic Injury Disaster Loan – The program provides small businesses with working capital loans of up to $2 million that can provide vital economic support to small businesses to help overcome the temporary loss of revenue they are experiencing. Borrowers can request an emergency advance of $10,000 within 3 days of submitting the application and do not have to repay the advance if they are denied a loan. Learn more here.
  • Subsidy for Current Loan Payments – The SBA will cover up to 6 months of principal and interest payments that are owed on most existing SBA loans. Learn more here.
  • Training and Advising for Existing Businesses – Additional funds are provided to SBDCs, Women’s Business Centers, and Minority Business Centers for education, training and advising to small businesses. Small Businesses can take advantage of this now.
  • Aid to Midsize Businesses and Nonprofits – $454 billion will be available from the U.S. Treasury to provide financial assistance through loan programs established by the Federal Reserve. As part of that, a special fund is dedicated to midsize businesses and nonprofits with 500-10,000 employees to provide financing to banks and other lenders to make direct loans to these entities. The interest rate on those loans would be capped at 2%, with no payments due for the first six months. These loans cannot be forgiven.

There are additional small business grants and loans available including the Hospitality Emergency Grant (applications due April 1), Illinois Small Business Emergency Loan Fund and Downstate Small Business Stabilization Program

Learn more here.