Community Helps Art Museum Stay Financially Stable During The Pandemic

Jun 17, 2020

Many nonprofit organizations across Illinois are feeling the financial blow of COVID-19. A northern Illinois art museum is working to stay afloat -- despite the setback.

Freeport Art Museum
Credit Freeport Art Museum

Staff at the Freeport Art Museum jumped into action when Governor J.B. Pritzker announced the stay-at-home order back in March.

Jason Judd is the executive director of the museum. He said the first thing they did was look at legislation that could help them.

“So, we were one of the first to participate in the PPP program from the Small Business Administration,” he said. “We wrote many grants. So, we did get a grant from the Art Works Fund for $12,000.”

Judd said that the museum’s finances normally come from fundraisers and classes that they offer.

He said in May, an individual offered a $5,000 donation if it was matched by the community. The museum raised the funds. Then a family came forward and offered another $5,000. The stipulation again was for the community to match it, this time by the end of June.

With less than two weeks to go, the museum is $1,400 away from its goal.

Judd said he is impressed with the outpouring of assistance.

“And at a time where it's hard to ask for support because a lot of us need some sort of support emotionally, financially, however that support is needed; for people to give during that time and to give to us,” he shared. “I think says a lot about the Northwest community.”

He suggested that most people don’t know that the museum is a nonprofit organization.

“And, you know, I think a common community member doesn't realize this, you know, ‘the library is public, but the museum's not public?'” he questioned.

Judd said the funds will be used for staff salaries, utilities and subsidizing art programs.

He said fortunately the museum didn’t have to make any staffing cuts.

Yvonne Boose is a 2020 corps member for Report for America, an initiative of the GroundTruth Project which is a national service program that places talented journalists in local newsrooms.