Issue 16 / May 1, 2024

In this issue:

• IAC Congratulates Fellowship/Finalist Cohort Coffee and Conversation in Springfield

Buchanan Center for the Arts Invests in its Future IAC Program Staff Feature Arts Midwest GIG Fund Illinois Artist Spotlight Additional Opportunities

IAC Congratulates FY24 Fellowship and Finalist Cohort

The Illinois Arts Council (IAC) is honored to announce the 2024 Artist Fellowship Award (AFA) recipients. The IAC AFAs are $15,000 awards to Illinois artists in recognition of their outstanding work and commitment within the arts. This year the IAC awarded 17 Illinois artists with Fellowships totaling $255,000. Finalist Awards of $1,500 were also awarded to 13 Illinois artists for a total of $19,500. The Finalist Award category recognizes and encourages additional applicants who demonstrate considerable talent. A list of all Fellows/Finalists along with their bios can be found on the IAC's Website.

The Artist Fellowship Program offered funding in seven artistic disciplines. This year's Fellowship and Finalist Award recipients were selected from 302 Illinois-based creative artists working in the disciplines of Ethnic and Folk Arts, Crafts, and Visual Arts which includes Visual-Based Arts (Installation, Mixed Media, Painting, Graphic & Drawing), Photography, and Sculpture. 

Read the today's official Press Release for more details.

Coffee and Conversation in Springfield

Bella Szabo, Executive Director of the Springfield Area Arts Council - Photo Credit: Nora Gregor

On Wednesday, April 17, 2024 Illinois Art Council’s Director of Programs, Jackie Banks-Mahlum, and Program Director, Angelique Grandone, joined colleagues from Arts Alliance Illinois, and the Springfield Area Art Council for Coffee and Conversation in Springfield. Several arts organizations and individual artists joined a robust conversation about the evolving Springfield arts community, its current challenges, and future goals. The Illinois Arts Council presented its new model for grantmaking and fielded questions from community members. Arts Alliance Illinois shared ways their Help Desk can be leveraged for additional funding and resource opportunities. The IAC is grateful to its partners for hosting such a great event and all those who joined us for coffee and conversation!

Buchanan Center for the Arts Invests in its Future

Kristyne Gilbert, Christi Steelman and Gary Heaton in BCA's soon to be renovated upstairs theater and gallery space

IAC Council Member, Christi Steelman toured the Buchanan Center for the Arts (BCA) in Monmouth this past week. The BCA is undergoing a capital campaign to renovate its main gallery and muti-purpose classrooms. Plans also include building an additional gallery and upstairs theater space (pictured). BCA Board member, Gary Heaton and Executive Director Kristyne Gilbert, led the tour.


The BCA is unique in a multi-county region as the only arts center offering a wide range of arts opportunities which include visual arts, music, theater, literary arts, and even culinary arts. BCA manages a thoughtfully curated shop filled with works by area artists of all disciplines and price ranges. Actively seeking and engaging new artists, their exhibition calendar is booked for the next several years! They are the sole providers of monthly arts curriculum to two school districts which have eliminated arts programs. Their education programming also includes satellite classrooms with area art centers, colleges, and universities as well as partnerships with public housing and the developmentally challenged.


Says Christi Steelman, “I was struck by the depth and breadth of the center’s relationship to the community; it is a gathering space, a resource for artists, and a learning place. They have gained the trust and support of the local community as well as the local government to truly become a center for the arts in rural Illinois of which we can all be proud.”

IAC Program Staff Feature

Danielle Heal, Program Director

Northern Region, Chicago Metro 1

A new major shift of the IAC this year was to divide the state into six distinct regions allowing Program Directors to oversee entire communities as opposed to artistic disciplines. The Muse has been featuring its Program Directors over the last few months so you may better get to know who will be working within your community. Our final feature is on Danielle Heal who is responsible for the the Northern Region as well as Chicago's Metro Region 1. Please refer to the Region Map and the Regional Program Director Finder page on IAC's website to determine your respective Program Director.

Danielle Heal joined the Illinois Arts Council in Spring 2019. She grew up in rural Southwestern Michigan, where her appreciation of the arts began at the age of 5 when she started taking piano lessons. Danielle was invited to join the Indiana University Toradze Piano Studio during her junior year in high school after an audition with the Head of the Music Department. She studied under Alexander Korsantia and George Vatchnadze during that time and during her undergraduate degree in Music Composition at Indiana University in South Bend.

Danielle moved to England where she completed a master’s degree in music Composition at the London College of Music (at the University of West London). After living in England for just over twelve years, she moved back to the states.

Some things to know about Danielle:


  • Danielle has played multiple instruments, including piano, flute, percussion, trumpet and cello
  • She nearly opened a coffee shop before moving to England
  • Danielle was in a Sky cover band in London and a soul band in Leicester
  • She climbed one of the tallest mountains in Great Britain – twice!
  • Danielle started reading music before she learned to read words

Applications are now open for Arts Midwest’s GIG Fund! This grant of up to $4,000 helps Midwestern organizations work with professional artists to present community programming.

Learn more:

  • What: The GIG Fund is a grant of $2,000 – $4,000 that helps organizations bring artists into their community. Curious about what kinds of projects have been funded as part of the GIG Fund? Explore recent GIG Fund grantees in Arts Midwest’s filterable database.

  • When: Intent to Apply is due May 23, 2024 (required). Applications are due June 12, 2024. Funded activities should take place between September 2024 and May 2025.

  • Where: Non-profit organizations located in Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Michigan, Minnesota, North Dakota, Ohio, South Dakota, Wisconsin and the Native nations that share this geography can apply.

  • Who: This funding is available to non-profit and tribal organizations with a budget of $1 million or less looking to present at least two community activities featuring an artist.

Illinois Artist Spotlight

Rita Coburn - FY23 Media Arts Fellowship Recipient

Rita Coburn’s primary focus is the biographical stories of African Americans from a multi-generational lens. Through prominent figures, she reveals key ideals relevant to our global culture. Co-Director and Co-Producer of Maya Angelou: And Still I Rise, the documentary premiered at the 2016 Sundance Film Festival and garnered a Peabody Award in 2017. The documentary Marian Anderson: The Whole World In Her Hands, garnered the Christopher Award and was presented through Carnegie Hall. Currently, she is approaching the life of W.E.B. DuBois. These documentaries are co-productions with American Masters through her company RCW Media Productions, Inc. Other credits include field production for the Oprah Winfrey Show, Radio productions for Oprah Radio, and production on Apollo Live! for BET/Centric. As Executive Director and Producer her company created and distributed Maya Angelou’s Black History Month Specials for Public Radio International. Regionally, she received several Emmy awards for documentaries, “Remembering 47th Street”, “Curators of Culture” and “African Roots, American Soil”. As a Director, Writer, and Producer, she has been awarded a Peabody and two NEH Awards and is ecstatic to be recognized by the State of Illinois for a commitment to the arts and “the stories of my people”.

Learn More

Other Opportunities You May Have Missed

Arts Alliance Illinois Three Part Series on Creating Your Own Business - Part One on Tuesday, May 7 at 11am - Registration Now Available

Lenore Marshall Poetry Prize - Submission Deadline, May 15

Independent Film Exhibition Conference - Chicago June 25-28 - Registration Now Available

Chicago Sculpture International - Project Space - Entry Deadline, Friday, May 3

Capital Development Board Art-In-Architecture Program - Two Requests for Qualifications Now Available

Chicago Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events is now accepting idea submissions for the 2024 Neighborhood Access Program -

Deadline, May 16

Ploughshares 2024 Emerging Writer's Contest Now Accepting Applications - Deadline, May 15

Chicago Dancemakers Forum - Register now for DanceChance - Deadline, May 20

Doris Duke Foundation - Performing Arts Technologies Lab - Deadline, May 6

McLean County Arts Center, Call for Artists - Historic Rte 66, Juried Art Exhibition - Deadline, June 1

The Muse, The Illinois Arts Council Newsletter, is published bi-weekly. Reproduction in whole or part without written permission of the IAC is strictly prohibited. The Muse is distributed free of charge. Contributions from our readers are welcome. The IAC reserves the right to edit or reject any material.

Masthead features the FY24 IAC Fellowship and Finalist Cohort