Monthly Archives: December 2018


’32nd First Night Springfield dedicated to its founder’ in the State Journal-Register


32nd First Night Springfield dedicated to its founder
By Tamara Browning, Staff Writer

llinois’ longest running New Year’s Eve celebration of the arts will note milestones this year as it remembers the woman who was its founder.
The Springfield Area Arts Council will present First Night Springfield Dec. 31 with activities and performances at several performance spaces in five different venues in Springfield.
It’s the city’s 32nd annual New Year’s Eve celebration of the arts, thanks to the forethought of the late Kay Feurer, to whom this year’s event is dedicated.
Feurer, who died Oct. 18, was executive director of the Springfield Area Arts Council when First Night Springfield was founded as the first one in Illinois. First Night originated in Boston in 1976 as a family friendly New Year’s Eve celebration.
Kay Feurer and her son, Jeff Feurer, flew out to Boston in 1985 when Jeff was 15.
“We actually went to the First Night, and we also went to Worcester, Massachusetts, which is right next door,” said Jeff, who lives in Sherman.
“I kind of checked out like more of the kid/teen stuff kind of, and she checked some stuff out, and then we checked a bunch out together. That kind of gave her an idea of what to do to bring it here.”
Jeff Feurer said his mother never wanted recognition for anything.
“It wasn’t just her. It was a lot of people over the years. The community deserves credit for keeping this alive as long as they have,” Jeff Feurer said. “It is a great alternative to a normal New Year’s Eve party.”
Sheila Walk, Springfield Area Arts Council’s interim executive director, said First Night Springfield has been ongoing for 32 years due to support from the community and a local nonprofit.
“Those two things have to work in tandem. The Springfield Area Arts Council could stage a wonderful event, a wonderful celebration of the arts, but if the community didn’t continue to come out to support it, it wouldn’t be worth our while,” Walk said.
“It’s also our biggest fundraiser of the year, and likewise, if the arts council did not have access to real talent in this area, then we couldn’t put on an event that would bring the community in.”
About 3,000 people attended First Night Springfield last year.
About $7,000 was raised last year (all performers are paid). Walk said First Night is a “cultural buffet, a very rich cultural pool.”
First Night Springfield has a mix of returning and new performers this year.
Among new performers will be Curt Smith with vocals and acoustic guitar (6 p.m. at Hoogland Center for the Arts); Square of the Roots Band, a bluegrass band (starting at 8:30 at Lincoln Library); Pam Brown, a one-woman show portraying Mary Lincoln (5 p.m. Hoogland Center for the Arts); and The Dandelion Pickers, folk music (7 p.m. at Lincoln Home Visitor Center).
“We do pay attention to diversity — gender and ethnic and age — not only to please the audience but also to match our mission that we pay attention to that in all that we do,” Walk said. “We’ll have the Dazzlers Dance Company. We’ll also have marimba.
We’ll have country music from the U.S., and country music out of Brazil.”
Walk said First Night can be an introduction to the local arts.
“You might think, ‘Well, I don’t know if I want to pay all that money to go to a magic show or to go to the ballet, but I can see a 45-minute magic show, a 45-minute ballet all in the same evening for the same $20,’ ” Walk said. “Hopefully, they will then invest in a ticket purchase in 2019 for a full evening of ballet or a full evening of magic or a full evening of jazz.”

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By |2018-12-31T15:27:45-06:00December 31st, 2018|News|Comments Off on ’32nd First Night Springfield dedicated to its founder’ in the State Journal-Register

Kay Feurer remembered in Illinois Times

Thursday, Dec. 27, 2018 12:01 am

Champion for the arts
By Karen Ackerman Witter

“Kay Feurer loved and appreciated the arts,” says Grace Nanavati, director emeritus of the Springfield Ballet Company (SBC). “She left a forever footprint in our city. I adored Kay. She had an internal ticker to my soul. Through her leadership with the Springfield Area Arts Council (SAAC), she made everyone’s life better.”
First Night Springfield, now in its 32nd year…a center for the arts, which Feurer was the first to envision…the Mayor’s Awards for the Arts…a community that values and appreciates the arts and local artists. These are the legacy of Kay Feurer.
Feurer began her involvement with the arts in Springfield as a SBC board member. “She had two young boys at home, and she longed to do something artistic,” says Nanavati. Soon after, she became company manager of the SBC. “Everything Kay did was done purposely. She saw potential for wonderful growth of the SBC and expedited that with her solid business knowledge. Kay was able to see what things could become, and that followed her with every opportunity in her life,” says Nanavati.
Feurer left the SBC in 1985 to become executive director of Springboard, which became the SAAC. She was deeply committed to promoting the arts and local artists and helping the community understand and appreciate what a vibrant arts environment can do for a city. “Kay worked tirelessly to put the arts and artists in front of the community,” says Polly Poskin, a longtime SAAC volunteer and board member. “Kay was very driven and had so much energy. She saw herself in the background making things happen, never seeking praise or recognition.”
Boston originated First Night. Always doing her research before proposing an idea, Feurer traveled to Boston to see this in action. She came back determined to bring this to fruition for Springfield. “She shifted the paradigm of what you can do on a cold winter night in central Illinois and do as a family,” says Poskin, a volunteer at Springfield’s first First Night. “It was clear in a minute that we had the right leadership.”
This year’s First Night Springfield on New Year’s Eve will be dedicated to Feurer. Springfield’s First Night was Illinois’ first and longest running. First Night is a non-alcoholic family-friendly event featuring music, dance performances, hands-on creative activities for children, local artists and entertainment at multiple venues throughout downtown.
Everyone who knew and worked with Feurer cites her business acumen, which was essential to successfully lead a nonprofit organization with a limited budget. Feurer was also visionary. She had the notion of a centralized venue for the arts. “The Hoogland Center as it came to be was a product of her vision,” says Poskin. “She knew that it’s hard to get recognition in the community with everything operating in isolation.” Feurer envisioned a place where many local arts organizations could come together and have a wide variety of venue sizes for performances.
Judy Bartholf has known Feurer since her days at the SBC, and they remained lifelong friends. Bartholf remembers the first meeting when Feurer planted the idea of an art center at the former Masonic Temple, which became the Hoogland Center for the Arts. “She gathered everyone in the main auditorium and spoke to the possibility of turning the building into an art center,” says Bartholf. The Hoogland Center’s website summarizes its history. It credits Feurer for recognizing the potential in 1988, but says, “At the time, taking this vision to reality is seemingly unattainable.”
“The Masons weren’t ready for Kay when she showed up,” says Nanavati. It would take another 15 years before renovations began, and work by many people, but there is no doubt that Feurer’s vision was essential to the Hoogland Center becoming a reality. How fitting that the grand opening of the Hoogland Center was on First Night, 15 years ago this New Year’s Eve.
Feurer also advocated for the arts at the state level. She served on the board of the Illinois Arts Alliance and the Illinois Alliance for Arts Education. She also served Springfield as a volunteer leader for ARC (now Sparc) and the allocation panel of the United Way.
After nearly a decade leading the SAAC, Feurer was enticed to move back to her home city of Chicago in 1994 to be executive assistant to the Illinois President of JP Morgan/Chase Bank. She loved Chicago and retired after 20 years of service.
Feurer moved back to Springfield in 2017, and she died on October 18, 2018. She was the loving mother of two sons, Timothy and Jeffrey, and devoted grandmother of three.

She is deeply missed by her family and many friends. The community should be grateful for her many contributions to the arts in Springfield. “Kay’s foundational work helped make things happen,” says Poskin.“ “I’m very excited this year’s First Night is being dedicated to my dear friend, Kay,” says Bartholf.

Text courtesy of Illinois

By |2018-12-31T15:23:29-06:00December 31st, 2018|News|Comments Off on Kay Feurer remembered in Illinois Times


Cole White, Pawnee High School senior, recited poetry for House of Representatives at the Illinois State Capitol on November 14, 2018.

He was invited to represent Poetry Out Loud at the invitation of Representative Camille Lilly.

He recited “Chicago” by Carl Sandburg and “Ozymandias” by Percy Bysshe Shelley.

White was the runner-up in February’s Central Illinois Regional Contest.

By |2018-12-19T17:11:40-06:00December 18th, 2018|News|Comments Off on COLE WHITE RECITES POETRY AT STATE CAPITOL