Starved Rock Country Festival of the Arts lands $15,852 tourism grant

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The Starved Rock Country Community Foundation will be receiving a $15,852 state tourism grant for the Starved Rock Festival of the Arts.

The Tourism Attraction and Festivals Grant program, launched in August 2021 and awarded on a quarterly basis, helps organizations fund efforts intended to spur tourism. As part of this, $10 million in first round funding was met with $16 million in matching funds, for a total of $26 million in investments for 41 projects designed to support ongoing recovery efforts in the hard-hit tourism industry.

Grants were awarded on a rolling basis with awards ranging from $11,500 to $562,500, with an average award of $243,902.

In order to be selected, each applicant demonstrated how this award would help businesses in the surrounding area, as well as the project’s ability to attract visitors for overnight stays. Projects scored higher based on proximity to commercial corridors and services, including hotels/motels, restaurants, retail, and other commercial operations.

The inaugural Starved Rock Country Festival of the Arts, which took place in Ottawa in September 2021, featured live music, films and artwork, with a mission of showcasing the region’s dedication to the arts.

“We are very grateful that our Festival of Arts last year in September was recognized,” said Pamela Beckett, co-found of the Starved Rock Country Community Foundation. “We applied for the grant as soon as it became available, and we were hopeful that many of the features of our festival would qualify for reimbursement. We know our community enjoyed the festival and we are hopeful that it will occur again in 2023. On behalf of the leadership team, all of the artists, musicians, filmmakers, volunteers and community partners, we send our sincere thanks to the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity.”

Gov. JB Pritzker and the Illinois DCEO announced an additional $15 million in funding Friday to support the tourism sector across Illinois, through a second round of the Tourism Attraction and Festivals Grant program offered by the state.

Through the $15 million investment, which is open for applicants beginning Friday, $5 million will be reserved for festivals, which serve as economic drivers while bringing communities together, and $10 million will support a broad range of other tourism-related project such as attractions, museums, live performance venues, among other items. This grant is funded using American Rescue Plan Act dollars.

This round of funding prioritizes downstate communities, communities that have experienced declines in hotel tax revenues and provides $5 million specifically for festivals.

“When the pandemic struck, the tourism industry across the globe lurched to a standstill,” Pritzker said. “That’s why, last August, I launched the Tourism Attraction and Festivals Grant program — delivering the support our communities needed to bring back parades, festivals, and cultural celebrations that are so vital to families in neighborhoods across our state. Today, I’m proud to announce an additional $15 million for this successful program to continue supporting our tourism sector, driving economic development and bringing our communities together.”

Tourism is a significant industry in La Salle and Bureau counties. Starved Rock and Matthiessen state parks are among the state’s biggest tourist attractions, drawing roughly 2.4 million visitors this past year.

In order to maximize funding, applicants are required to submit matching funds with the goal of attracting additional visitors to localities and events, thereby supporting local hotels, restaurants and businesses. Through the revised approach for the second round of funding, the state is ensuring localities and tourism entities hardest-hit by the pandemic receive additional support.

Through a Notice of Funding Opportunity, localities, tourism and festival businesses, and entities can apply for grants of up to $500,000 that may be used to establish and enhance tourism attractions or festivals. Applications will be accepted until Friday, Sept. 23. Go to https://www2.illinois.gov/dceo/Pages/default.aspx for more information.

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July 30, 2022 at 04:36PM

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