Dear Chicago Reader,
I am writing in response to the mention of Chicago Filmmakers’ 20th Anniversary Benefit in Lewis Lazare’s column of March 11. While we appreciate the coverage and the good intentions, we felt that the piece, perhaps because of its brevity, may have created an inappropriate impression that we would like to clear up. The piece suggests that Chicago Filmmakers’ move from its previous space on Belmont to its current location on Division was a direct result of reduced funding from the Illinois Arts Council. Our decision to leave the Belmont building was largely due to several city building code violations which we could not afford to remedy, as well as the fact that our rent had gotten too expensive. It is also true that we had to cut our overhead due to reduced funding, but the Illinois Arts Council is not the only funding agency that has cut its grants. Chicago Filmmakers, like most other organizations in the arts community, has experienced severe cuts across the funding landscape, in both government and private sectors.
More importantly, it needs to be said that the cut in our IAC funding is not due to any punitive action on the part of the IAC; it is the result of state cuts to the IAC budget. Chicago Filmmakers’ evaluations by the IAC peer panels over the years have consistently been high; there is simply less money to award than before. Also to say that our IAC grants have “dwindled” to $30,000 minimizes the significance of funding at that level, which is still substantial for our organization.
On a final upbeat note, the outcome of our move has been a good one. Chicago Filmmakers’ new theater is considerably more comfortable, and we are proud to be part of the artistically vibrant West Town community.