Issue 4 / September 15, 2023

Fellowship Recipient Honored by Illinois Representative Theresa Mah

This week, FY23 Fellowship Recipient in Music Improvisation, saxophonist, Nick Mazzarella, was honored by Illinois Representative Theresa Mah (2nd District) at the National Museum of Mexican Art in a check presentation to the artist. The check presentation marked the kick off to a series of listening sessions the Illinois Arts Council Agency is leading this fall throughout the Chicagoland area to assess the impact and effectiveness of IACA programming and processes.

“With this award, we are recognizing Mr. Mazzarella’s wonderful additions to the arts in Illinois, both for the entertainment his work has brought to countless audiences, and for the impact he has made in our shared history,” Mah said. “From Sam Cooke to Mavis Staples, Illinois artists occupy a unique place in American music, and Mr. Mazzarella has made his own brilliant contribution to that tapestry. I feel privileged to offer him this honor.”

“Recognition and support is crucial for any artist." says Mazzarella. "The Illinois Arts Council Fellowship Award is a tremendous honor in that it acknowledges one's body of work and provides significant financial assistance for the continued development of that work. In my particular case, the Fellowship will enable me to complete vital recordings of my original music, tour with those projects, and expand both my professional network and the scope of my improvisational practice through immersive visits to centers of musical culture abroad. Most importantly, I intend to make use of the ample resources provided by the Fellowship grant to generate opportunities for collaboration and collective creative growth within my immediate and extended musical community.”

For a full bio on Nick Mazzarella, and all the FY23 Fellowship recipients, visit the IACA web page.

Illinois Represented at National LEAD Conference

The Kennedy Center 2023 Leadership Exchange in Arts and Disability (LEAD) Conference occurs annually and provides an opportunity for professionals in the field of arts and culture to develop best practices and resources; engage in conversations with colleagues and experts from around the world; and learn practical methods for designing inclusive arts experiences and environments. Representing the Illinois Arts Council Agency was Board Chair, Nora Daley, Executive Director, Joshua Davis-Ruperto, Program Director, Danielle Heal, and Director of Strategic Partnerships, Teresa Davis (pictured).


This year’s conference on August 27-31, 2023 in Boston, MA was attended by a group of IACA Board and staff members. The IAC also awarded scholarships to 16 Illinois constituents to take part in this professional development opportunity allowing increased representation of Illinois’ creative sector at the 2023 LEAD Conference. Next year, the LEAD Conference will take place in Seattle, WA from July 29 – August 2, 2024 and the IAC hopes to again offer scholarships for this opportunity. More information on the LEAD Conference can be found at

Illinois attendees and IACA Lead scholarship recipients

Teresa Davis with Karen Mari of Chicago Youth Symphony Orchestra.

Teresa Davis smiles with Mesha Arant and Esther Grimm (top) of 3Arts with Rachel Arfa, City of Chicago.

Arts Midwest is now accepting applications for the GIG Fund. Through this grant, Midwestern organizations may request up to $4,000 to contract with a professional artist and offer activities to their community. 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. Applicants must submit an Intent to Apply by September 21, 2023 and applications are due October 3, 2023.

To better assist applicants with their applications, the Illinois Arts Council Agency offers a series of webinars and drop-in sessions. Webinars require pre-registration and cover topics such as eligibility, navigating through the Salesforce grants management system, as well as the application and review processes. First time applicants are especially encouraged to register. If you miss any of these sessions, a recordings are made available within 48 hours.

Drop-In sessions are informal Q&A sessions designed to help applicants who have already begun working on an application and do not require pre-registration. For a complete list of available sessions, please visit the IACA's Workshops and Webinars page.

Recent Announcements...

September 1, 2023 - IACA Announces FY24 Artist Fellowship Program Application/Guidelines Now Available

August 25, 2023 - IACA Announces FY24 Rebuild Illinois Cultural Capital Planning Grants

The Muse, The Illinois Arts Council Newsletter, is published bi-monthly. Reproduction in whole or part without written permission of the Illinois Arts Council is strictly prohibited. The Muse is distributed free of charge. Contributions from our readers are welcome.

The Illinois Arts Council Agency reserves the right to edit or reject any material.