A few weeks ago we learned just how bad the Spertus Museum’s dire financial woes are: in September they’re cutting their visitor hours waaaaaay back, to just two Sundays a month, and are laying off almost all of their full-time employees.

Yesterday the NEA announced that 63 arts organizations would receive grants under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, and Spertus College was on its list, receiving a $50,000 award. The Field Museum, The National Museum of Mexican Art and the John R. and Eleanor R. Mitchell Foundation were also awarded grants.

These grants–totalling $2,925,000 and distributed among 63 museums and other nonprofit arts organizations–are given to “support the preservation of jobs that are threatened by declines in philanthropic and other support during the current economic downturn,” according to the NEA website.

See the full list of institutions awarded this grant in FY09 here. The list of Illinois grantees is as follows:

Field Museum of Natural History
Chicago, IL

John R. and Eleanor R. Mitchell Foundation
Mt. Vernon, IL

National Museum of Mexican Art
Chicago, IL

Spertus College
Chicago, IL

As Lee Rosenbaum has observed on her blog culturegrrl, grants in the $25,000 – $50,000 range aren’t enough to save many (really any) full-time jobs, but they do have, as Rosenbaum put it, “the symbolic value of underscoring that arts jobs do have a role to play in the nation’s economic recovery.”

Let’s hope the grant is enough to allow the Spertus to continue some form of programming in the future rather than disappear entirely.

Claudine Isé

Claudine Isé has worked in the field of contemporary art as a writer and curator for the past decade, and currently serves as the Editor of the Art21 Blog. Claudine regularly writes for Artforum.com and Chicago magazine, and has also worked as an art critic for the Los Angeles Times. Before moving to Chicago in 2008, she worked at the Wexner Center in Columbus, OH as associate curator of exhibitions, and at the Hammer Museum in Los Angeles as assistant curator of contemporary art, where she curated a number of Hammer Projects. She has Ph.D. in Film, Literature and Culture from the University of Southern California.