Lo! ’t is a gala night

   Within the lonesome latter years!  

An angel throng, bewinged, bedight

   In veils, and drowned in tears,  

Sit in a theatre, to see

   A play of hopes and fears,

While the orchestra breathes fitfully  

   The music of the spheres.

-from “The Conqueror Worm” by Edgar Allan Poe


These words, recited by Ryan Horstman of Springfield’s Sacred Heart-Griffin High School, earned him third place in the Central Illinois Poetry Out Loud Contest held this month.

Thaddeus Bergschneider and Madden Delaney of Franklin High School were the top two finishers in the competition.  They will advance to the Illinois State Finals in March.  Due to the pandemic, all competitions are held virtually.

The Illinois State Contest will feature recitations by two students from each of eight Poetry Out Loud regions in the state.  The Illinois State champion will advance to the national contest.

260 students and 10 teachers in 5 schools began the 2021 Poetry Out Loud season in central Illinois last fall.

Other contestants in the Central Illinois Regional Contest were

Elisabeth Anderson and Maddy Graham, Eureka High School (Eureka)

Makenna Gill and Bethany Wagner, Morton High School (Morton)

Grace Lambert, Sacred Heart-Griffin High School (Springfield)

Alysa Samaniego, Springfield High School (Springfield)

Contest staff for the Central Illinois Regional Contest included

Recitation judges:  Randy Brooks, Carol Davis, and Juliann Quigg

Accuracy judge:  Thèa Chesley

Scorekeeper:  Bob Jessup

Technician:  David Cain

Poetry Out Loud in Illinois is a collaborative project of the Illinois Arts Council Agency and seven agencies, each of which hosts a regional contest.  The Poetry Out Loud:  National Recitation Contest is a national program that encourages high school students to learn about great poetry through analysis, memorization, performance, and competition.  The National Endowment for the Arts and The Poetry Foundation, in conjunction with state arts agencies, support this nation-wide program with participants from all fifty states plus Guam, Washington, D.C., the U.S. Virgin Islands, and Puerto Rico.

More information is available at

By |2021-02-25T08:11:10-06:00February 25th, 2021|News, Poetry Out Loud|Comments Off on THE SPRINGFIELD AREA ARTS COUNCIL ANNOUNCES CENTRAL ILLINOIS REGIONAL WINNERS

Arts policy and the COVID crisis: Resources and Actions | February 2021

Much has been happening over the past few weeks regarding COVID-19 relief on the federal and state levels, and the arts are still in need.

Take action: Click here to call on Congress to include strong relief for the arts sector in the COVID relief package.  

And a quick announcement to join us and get your questions answered on all things unemployment & SVOG! Learn more below. 

TOMORROW! February 19, 3:30 pm: The Latest on Unemployment 
We will have a representative from the Illinois Department of Employment Security with us to answer your questions about unemployment and any issues you’ve had navigating the system this past year.
Register here.

February 26, 1:00pm: Q&A for the Shuttered Venue Operators Grant program 
We will have a representative from the Small Business Administration to answer your questions about the SVO program.
Register here. 

Friday Office Hours with Jonathan
Have a policy question you don’t see covered by the webinars above? Join Alliance Deputy Director, Jonathan VanderBrug for a Friday Office Hour session from 10AM – 11AMCST. Come with your SVO, legislative, and relief program questions and Jonathan will do his best to offer you some clarity!
Sign up for #AskJonathan here.

By |2021-02-19T09:58:37-06:00February 19th, 2021|News|Comments Off on Arts policy and the COVID crisis: Resources and Actions | February 2021

Now Hiring : Part-Time Bookkeeper

Erica, our top-notch bookkeeper for three years, has decided to leave us.  So we are looking for someone to work 2-5 hours a week, year-round.

$15 per hour.  No benefits other than flexible schedule.


Maintain accounts receivable and accounts payable

Assist with the preparation of fiscal year budget

Process payroll and taxes

Pay bills and make deposits

Reconcile bank statements

Prepare financial reports for board

Generate year-end reports, tax documents, and donor letters

Assist with annual audit

Help with the preparation of grant applications and reports

Work as needed with fund-raising events and programs

Advise staff and board on financial matters

Other duties as assigned

Experience with QuickBooks software and usage of standard accounting practices required

Interest in the arts and/or non-profit organizations desired

If interested, send a resume and cover letter to Sheila Walk at

By |2021-02-18T14:56:45-06:00February 18th, 2021|News|Comments Off on Now Hiring : Part-Time Bookkeeper

HeARTS for the ARTS

Would you help us spread the word about two new fund-raisers, please?

Having two big, annual fund-raisers Covid-canceled in 2020 prompted the Arts Council board to find new ways to pay operating expenses.  So, next week, we are running two events – a Valentine’s Day drive-through dinner and a backyard barbecue package Facebook auction.

Details are below and in the attached fliers.

Thank you, so much!

Drive-through Valentine’s Dinner from Nelson’s Catering

Pick-up: Sunday, February 14; 3:00-5:00 P.M. at Creative Reuse Marketplace (122 S. 4th St.)

Sweet Lovin’ Chicken Dinner

With cheese potatoes, southern-style green beans, fresh garden salad, roll/butter, and salted caramel brownie

Forever Always Meatless Lasagna 

With green beans, fresh garden salad, garlic breadstick, and salted caramel brownie

Each order includes a handmade gift.     Cost: $25.00     Order deadline: Thursday, February 11, at noon

Buy dinner tickets at

Backyard Barbecue for 25 People from Nelson’s Catering

Appetizers: Grilled Chicken Wings, Bourbon-glazed Meatballs, Stuffed Mushrooms

Entrées: Grilled 1/4 Chicken, Pulled Pork Barbecue, Smoked Beef Brisket

Sides: Cheddar Cheese Potatoes, Green Beans, Rolls and Butter

Desserts: Fresh Fruit Salad, Salted Caramel Brownies

FACEBOOK AUCTION     Visit to place your bid.

Auction begins Sunday, February 7, at 6:00P.M.  Winning bidder announced on Sunday, February 14, at 6:00 P.M.

Dinner flier                                          Auction flier

By |2021-02-05T09:43:38-06:00February 5th, 2021|News|Comments Off on HeARTS for the ARTS

2021 National Poetry Month Poster Now Available

This April will be the 25th anniversary of National Poetry Month! To request the 2021 edition of the National Poetry Month Poster, or to download the PDF, please visit the Academy of American Poet’s website.

This year’s poster was designed by senior Bao Lu from Edward R. Murrow High School in Brooklyn, New York.

By |2021-01-25T10:44:23-06:00January 25th, 2021|News|Comments Off on 2021 National Poetry Month Poster Now Available

Resources for Artists (January 2021)

IL Create the Future

We’re collecting stories of artists making a difference, and we want to hear from you! Are you finding creative ways to use your artistic practice to engage with your community? We’re promoting civically engaged artists on our social media and encouraging the creative community to get involved! We’d love to highlight your work. No project too small.

Share your story here

Artists as Social Change Agents    January 26, 2:00-3:00 pm

Webinar.  Networking from 3:00-3:30 pm eastern.

This conversation explores how the arts can change what people know and believe, and how they engage in communities. Learn more or register.

Watch an Arts Alliance Illinois webinar for the latest on unemployment insurance benefits.  The Illinois Department of Employment Security (IDES) is already implementing the extension of coverage for gig workers and independent contractors, as well as the additional $300/week.

You can find the webinar here:

arts for illinois logo

By |2021-01-21T12:18:31-06:00January 21st, 2021|News|Comments Off on Resources for Artists (January 2021)

Community Arts Access 2021 Recipients Announced

The Springfield Area Arts Council is pleased to announce the recipients of its 2021 COMMUNITY ARTS ACCESS grants in Sangamon and Menard counties.

Community Arts Access grants are given in conjunction with the Illinois Arts Council Agency and the City of Springfield. The grants provide the opportunity for local arts agencies like the Springfield Area Arts Council to distribute state funds in their own service areas according to local needs. The program is designed to give the community more access to the arts, especially among under-served populations.

The grantees and their programs follow.

Downtown Springfield, Incorporated – Transforming vacant storefronts downtown with art installations

Illinois State Museum Society – Ancestral Threads exhibit focusing on the fiber art of Sherise Wright, quilter

Illinois Symphony Orchestra – Sunday at Six recitals

James Weldon Johnson Study Guild – We Join Hands, a program to heighten awareness of African-American artists and authors

Menard County Singers – Space rental for rehearsals

Mini O’Beirne Crisis Nursery – To provide art activities for clients

The Pharmacy Gallery and Art Space – To mentor emerging artists

Scholastic Art Awards – Program booklet design and printing

Springfield Ballet Company – Dancing through the District, in partnership with the Springfield Park District

By |2021-01-11T16:41:10-06:00January 11th, 2021|News|Comments Off on Community Arts Access 2021 Recipients Announced

First Night® Springfield – Coast to Coast!

Let’s fly into the New Year with First Night®, from coast to coast.

This family-friendly event hosted on New Year’s Eve by the Springfield Area Arts Council, can be enjoyed alone or with friends and family.  Bringing you music, art, dance, poetry, and fun activities for children, this year’s celebration of the arts will feature talented performers not only from the Springfield area but also from Monterey, California, and St. Petersburg, Florida.  What better way to see 2020 out than with four hours of high quality entertainment from three time zones?

“As the Arts Council approaches its 45th anniversary in 2021, we’re giving First Night Springfield to our community at no charge,” says Sheila Walk, Executive Director.  “To keep artists and audiences safe, several of our programs were COVID-cancelled this year, but we’re keeping this holiday tradition alive.  Our 34th annual festival of the arts will be ‘virtual’ on Thursday, December 31st, and will be available on Facebook , YouTube, and Vimeo.  You can find the links on our website at  We hope many people join us for all or part of the evening from the comfort of their homes.”

Walk adds, “First Night Springfield is not only the Arts Council’s signature event, but also it is our biggest annual fund-raiser.  Our event sponsors help us pay area performers.  We’ll collect donations securely throughout the four-hour show to make some money.”

First Night Springfield will begin at 8:00 P.M., and a fireworks show from St. Petersburg will bring the countdown to midnight.  This virtual production is being created by Brian Crowdson; the evening’s hostess is favorite local actress, Aasne Vigesaa.  Felicia Olin and Karen Nickerson created the promotional material.

From Lamar Walls, one of the organizers of the event:  “The visual arts will be represented at this year’s First Night celebration.  The Springfield Area Arts Council will give away art kits in partnership with Lowe’s Home Improvement and will hold a children’s art contest via our social media platforms using #kidsartsaac for a chance to win art-themed prizes.”

Where:  in front of the Hoogland Center for the Arts at 420 South Sixth Street, Springfield

When:  Saturday, December 26, from 11:00 A.M. to 1:00 P.M.

The visual arts also will be part of the New Year’s Eve program:

Making a celebration hat and a popper – from Monterey, California

Rock painting – from St. Petersburg, Florida


Enjoy original blues music from the legendary James Armstrong and country blues from Jake Shane along with country music from Britney Long and cowboy music from Randy Erwin.  There will be musical theater selections from Legacy Theater and ballet from Springfield Dance.  The Craig Russo Project and The House Trio will perform Latin jazz.  Poetry will be presented by Sydney McCabe, Delon James, and Derick Turner.


Shinsho Mugen – taiko drummers

MC Lars and Spector Dance – rap

Dirty Cello – bluegrass

Heartstrings – Celtic

Monterey Next Generation – children’s jazz orchestra


Underground Cirque – fire dancers

Gio’s Typos – holiday poetry

Cal Morris – classical

BoHo Sideshow – roots

By |2020-12-24T00:35:18-06:00December 24th, 2020|News|Comments Off on First Night® Springfield – Coast to Coast!
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