We no longer have to imagine life without culture; thanks to the statewide lockdown, we’re living it. For now, we take solace in its eventual return. But culture in all its aspects—from the artists and restaurant workers who live paycheck-to-paycheck or gig to gig to the largest institutions—faces existential issues that will outlive the pandemic. On this page, we’re aggregating links to fundraisers and other initiatives that are springing up to counter the effect of the outbreak that has threatened our livelihoods and culture itself. Though not listed here, almost every nonprofit in the city that takes donations needs them now more than ever. If you can help, here’s how. We’ll all thank you for your role in saving Chicago culture.
The state of Illinois, city of Chicago and the philanthropic community have just teamed up to launch Arts for Illinois, featuring grants to nonprofit cultural institutions and artists alike.
6018 North has launched a weekly “Sanctuary Sessions: Wellness During Quarantine”
Hilton Asmus Contemporary gallery has launched Hilton Asmus Live, a broadcast series about art and artists.
Chicago Dance Crash: is streaming “Bricklayers of Oz: The hip hop origin story of the Yellow Brick Road” through March 31.
The Fly Honeys are doing a weekly “Live From the Hive” livestream compilation on Fridays at 8:30pm beginning April 17 and running through May 1.
Mandala South Asian Performing Arts: Mandala’s Makers Festival, scheduled for June, goes virtual. Festival artists to be announced in April.
Lucky Plush Productions: Plucky Lush Virtual Party. Lucky Plush’s annual fundraiser party moves online. May 22, pay-what-you-can tickets start at $10.
Dance Center of Columbia College: The Dance Center is making full length videos of past performances available to stream through the end of May.
Hubbard Street Dance Chicago has a COVID-19 Crisis Relief Fund to cover salaries and healthcare for dancers and staff.
Synapse Arts is hosting an all-day Dance Break April 30, with performances, mini-classes, dance films and activities for all ages.
Hedwig Dances moves Hedwignites fundraiser online, Friday, May 8 at 7:30pm.
Dozens of local dancers and companies are offering livestream classes for free or donate-what-you-can, including, but not limited to: Aerial Dance Chicago, Ayako Kato/Art Union Humanscape, Ballet Chicago, Chicago Human Rhythm Project, Dance Center Evanston, The Fly Honeys, Hedwig Dances, Hubbard Street Dance, Joel Hall Dancers, Lucky Plush Productions with University of Chicago, Visceral Dance Chicago, Winifred Haun & Dancers, Molly Shanahan/Mad Shak,
Dining and Drinking
The hospitality industry has been especially hard hit, with thousands of employees laid off. Many restaurants, nearly all of them small businesses, are open for carry-out and delivery, even when that is not their normal m.o. Others are hosting GoFundMe campaigns for their workers.
Dining at a Distance: Jenn Galdes of Grapevine PR helped launch a directory of restaurants open for carry-out and delivery.
Chicago Hospitality United: Cody Hudson designed a line of T-shirts and sweatshirts (and more) to support hourly Chicago workers.
Restaurant Workers Relief Program: West Town Bakery has been transformed into an ongoing headquarters for worker relief, offering to-go dinners and grocery bags to unemployed restaurant workers.
James Beard-nominated Chef Jenner Tomaska will auction a private, in-home dinner via Instagram to raise funds for Virtue Restaurant’s Employee Relief Fund and first responders in the Hyde Park community, beginning April 3 at noon and running 24 hours.
GoFundMe Fundraisers for hospitality employees
Cafe Marie Jeanne
Cellar Door Provisions
The Fifty/50 Group
Lettuce Entertain You
Moody Tongue Chicago Culinary Brewery
One Off Hospitality Group
Sepia and Proxi
Chicago Cinema Workers Fund “With the assistance of fiscal sponsor Full Spectrum Features and community partners, Chicago International Film Festival and Nightingale Cinema, we have started a fund for hourly cinema workers who have been furloughed or seen a reduction in compensation. Funds raised will be distributed evenly between applicants, with the goal of providing $300 relief, equivalent to 20 hours of work at $15 an hour. Every $10,000 we raise would provide approximately 30 workers with relief funds at this level.”
Siskel Film Center’s “Film Center from Your Sofa” in collaboration with distributors to provide streaming of features previously scheduled for their screens.
Music Box Theatre is streaming Chicago-made indie hit “Saint Frances” in a limited streaming release.
Music Box Theatre is teaming up with Kino Lorber starting March 25, for the Brazilian film “Bacurau.”
Music Box Theatre is streaming Ken Loach’s latest, “Sorry We Missed You,” via Kino Lorber, starting April 8.
Bookends & Beginnings has launched a GoFundMe to ensure its survival.
Seminary Co-Op has launched a GoFundMe to address this “existential threat.”
The Gray Center for Art & Inquiry is launching weekly Gray Sound Sessions April 7 at 8pm. Its debut performance will Opera Povera’s Full Pink Moon: Opera Povera in Quarantine.
Various musical theater stalwarts are teaming up for Seasons of Concern Chicago’s virtual benefit concert, Chicago Offstage! Live at Home on April 19 at 6pm.
TimeLine Theatre is streaming a performance of “Kill Move Paradise” from April 1 to April 19.
Adler Planetarium has launch a virtual exhibition commemorating the fiftieth anniversary of Apollo 13 called “13 Stories with Captain James Lovell.”