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Illinois Humanities awards grants for cultural programs in rural Illinois

Bruce Morton
Bruce Morton Photography & Illinois Humanities

Several organizations and individuals in western Illinois will receive grant funding from Illinois Humanities. IH said the Foreground Rural Initiative is a first-of-its-kind program.

“Through our work across the state, it became more and more evident that we need to be more intentional and focus more on rural and small towns in Illinois,” said Fairouz AbuGhazaleh, IH’s Director of Statewide Programs.

“We’ve been doing work. But I think we’ve found that there is more to be done. That’s one of the reasons why this came to be.”

Foreground Rural Initiative is dedicated to supporting the arts and humanities in rural areas, which are often overlooked by traditional funding efforts, according to a news release from IH.

AbuGhazaleh said IH wants to shed light on the work being done in rural areas.

“We believe cultural work really helps lift communities and can be a major impetus for sparking hope, connecting people, and helping with community-building and economic development,” she said.

AbuGhazaleh said an anonymous donor helped fund the multi-year program.

Individuals received grants of up to $5,000 and organizations received up to $10,000. Recipients from west central Illinois include:

  • Tri States Public Radio, for a podcast about the past and present of Forgottonia
  • Chris Vallillo of Macomb
  • Fulton City Arts in Fulton County
  • Historic Ellisville Restoration Organization
  • The Hub Arts and Cultural Center in Rushville
  • The Schuyler County Architectural Foundation

“It was beautiful receiving the applications and just seeing the work that they are involved in, the work that they’re doing, and the plans that they have for the future, and how hopefully the grant that they received is going to help further their work,” said AbuGhazaleh.
Overall, IH awarded $250,000 in grants to 27 programs in 19 counties.

AbuGhazaleh anticipates they will be awarding another couple rounds of grants through the initiative.

Tri States Public Radio produced this story.  TSPR relies on financial support from our readers and listeners in order to provide coverage of the issues that matter to west central Illinois, southeast Iowa, and northeast Missouri. As someone who values the content created by TSPR's news department please consider making a financial contribution.

Rich is TSPR's News Director.