Yearly Archives: 2020


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!

Springfield’s Got Talent Winners Announced

Kids: Vocal

Winner: Kayleigh Paris

“I’m Going to Love You” by Meghan Trainor

Runner up: Amanda Rollins

Love Is An Open Door

Kids: Performance Arts

Winner: Mike Hofner

Lost Boy Dance by Annaliese

Young Adult: Vocal

Winner: Evelyn Vinzant

Adult: Vocal

Winner: Marsha Grant

Song; There Are Worst Things I Could Do 

Adult: Visual Arts

Winner: Glen Aylward Barriers

Adult: Performance Arts

Winner: Natalie Sims

MNY Crazy For Love

Runner up: Ben Paoletti

Oh, My Gourd!!

Runner up: Layna Rivas


Adult: Musical

Winner: Becky Kunken

Hornpipe from Handel’s Water Music 

Runner up:  Merle Steinert

I will follow you into the dark

Runner up: Prairie Winds Flute Ensemble

Ashokan Farewell performed by the Prairie Winds Flute Ensemble

To view the winning videos visit:

By |2020-12-18T13:44:31-06:00December 18th, 2020|News|Comments Off on Springfield’s Got Talent Winners Announced

Arts Council Announces Annual Community Grants for Non-profit Organizations

The Springfield Area Arts Council announces the opening of its fiscal year 2021 COMMUNITY ARTS ACCESS re-granting program.

Non-profit organizations in Sangamon and Menard counties are invited to apply for funding.

Guidelines and application materials will be available on the Arts Council website on  November 9th and may be requested from Sheila Walk at 217-753-3519 or The application deadline is November 30th.

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.

2020 Community Arts Access Grant Recipients:

Garvey-Tubman Center

Illinois Symphony Orchestra

James Weldon Johnson Study Guild

Land of Lincoln Barbershop Chorus

Menard County Singers

Mini O’Beirne Crisis Nursery

The Pharmacy Gallery

Scholastic Art Awards

Senior Services Center

Springfield Ballet Company

Theatre in the Park

The Springfield Area Arts Council, a 44-year-old local non-profit, enhances the quality of life in its geographic area and enriches the community through its performing and visual arts programs and events throughout the year. Its grant programs provide critically-needed funds to assist individuals and organizations in fulfilling their missions.

By |2020-11-06T12:17:53-06:00November 6th, 2020|News|Comments Off on Arts Council Announces Annual Community Grants for Non-profit Organizations

Adena Rivas interviewed on WMAY’s “Let’s Talk Arts & Entertainment” about “Springfield’s Got Talent”

Adena Revis is the coordinator of “Springfield’s Got Talent,” a virtual talent show and fundraiser for the Arts Council. She was interviewed by Kevin Hart for the WMAY program “Let’s Talk Arts & Entertainment” on October 28, 2020. She discussed the talent show and other endeavors. Listen to the interview below:

By |2020-10-29T20:04:28-06:00October 29th, 2020|News|Comments Off on Adena Rivas interviewed on WMAY’s “Let’s Talk Arts & Entertainment” about “Springfield’s Got Talent”

Springfield’s Got Talent: Virtual Talent Show Begins October 15

Dear Springfield Family,

We know these are difficult and uncertain times we are all facing right now. Due to these
circumstances, the Springfield Area Arts Council in partnership with the Illinois Times would
love to lift all of our spirits. This time of year is usually when we are getting ready for the
holidays. In the spirit of this, we are going to do something new this year.
We are going to have a Virtual Talent Show!
No auditions are required and you can enter into multiple categories within your own age group.
This event is a fundraiser for the Springfield Area Arts Council so there is a registration fee for
each submission; however, we do have a limited amount of registration grants for those
experiencing financial hardship. Please contact us to apply.
Information on categories, age groups, and registration fees are below.

Categories: Video uploads

1) Visual Arts (ex: painting, photography, drawing, etc.)
– Submit a time lapsed video showcasing design to completion (10 sec. minimum – 30 sec. maximum)

2) Vocal (ex: singing, poetry, etc.)
 Submit a video showcasing your vocal talent. Having recroded back track is allowed. (30 sec. minimum – 3 min. maximum)

3) Musical (musicians- individual, duo, group)
 Submit a video showcasing your instrumental talent. Singing with instrumental is allowed. (30 sec. minimum – 3 min. maximum)

4) Performance Arts (ex: dance, lip sync., puppetry, drag, standup, etc.)
 Submit a video showcasing your performance talent (30 sec. minimum – 3 min. maximum)

Age Groups for Each Category:

1) Kids: 12 years and under
2) Young Adult: 13 to 17 years
3) Adult: 18 years and older

Registration Cost Per Age Group/Per Submission:

1) Kids: $5
2) Young Adult: $10
Adult: $15


Top prizes/awards for each category and age group. Prizes/awards include gift cards and certificates.

~ All submissions in “Kids” category will earn special participation gift.

We encourage all residents to participate- individuals or the whole family. The sky is the limit on
creativity! You will have the entire month of November to create and submit your video/s. Due
date for all submissions is Monday, November 16. Voting will then take place from Thursday,
November 19 to Monday, December 7. Voting is open to the entire community. Judging will
commence the week after voting ends and winners will be announced Monday, December 14.
Our overall hope with this project is that we connect as a community and get to see each other
even if only through videos, laugh and smile and create lasting memories.

We look forward to seeing all of your amazing videos and talent, let’s do this Springfield!

‘Live’ at the Market: Saturday, October 24 (city film crew will be at 122 S. 4th St. to film those that are unable to do so themselves)

Sponsorship Opportunity 

Download the PDF information sheet

By |2020-10-23T10:33:10-06:00October 14th, 2020|News|Comments Off on Springfield’s Got Talent: Virtual Talent Show Begins October 15

Americans for the Arts launches collaborative proposal to put creative workers to work in the recovery

The policy proposal,“To Rebuild and Reimagine the United States Post-Pandemic, We Must Put Creative Workers to Work”, was developed with over 100 partners throughout the creative community to Put Creative Workers to Work in the national recovery.

This proposal debuts with over 775 endorsements from creative organizations and creative workers. It combines suggested actions from, among other sources, Standing for Cultural Democracy, the Cultural New Deal for Cultural and Racial Justice, various working papers from Americans for the ArtsCalifornians for the Arts’ Job Creation Strategies and Actionable Items for the Arts SectorArts Wisconsin’s We’re All In Creative Workforce Program, and THE OFFICE’s Artists at Work program. It is also the result of combined work from over 100 members of the creative community through the Getting Creative Workers Working Coalition, a coalition of National Arts Service Organizations and Regional Arts Organizations, and Americans for the Arts’ various networks, including the State Arts Action Network and the United States Urban Arts Federation. Such solidarity makes a strong statement, and we are looking forward to adding to that growing list of endorsements.

There is no recovery without creativity. To rebuild, we must Put Creative Workers to Work both nationally and right here in Springfield.

As local, state, and federal legislators begin to think about how our communities will recover from and reimagine ourselves after the Coronavirus pandemic, they must put the country’s creative workers to work in that recovery. The creative economy is an $878-billion industry that supports 5.1 million jobs and represents 4.5% of the nation’s economy, according to the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis.

In the months to come, both the national and local economy will need the arts and culture sector to deliver on its unique mission and catalyze economic activity, while also addressing the social and educational needs of a community emerging from a disaster.

For that reason, the Springfield Area Arts Council has joined Americans for the Arts and over 725 other cultural organizations and creative workers across the country to propose 15 actions to Put Creative Workers to Work, activating the creative economy for the common good, energizing our fellow citizens, reimagining how communities can thrive, sparking economic growth, and improving the lives of us all.

We encourage all members of this community to read the full proposal, which can be found at, and consider how we might integrate the proposed policies into our own local recovery.

The COVID-19 pandemic has devastated America’s arts industry-63% (!) of the nation’s artists and creative workers are now unemployed and thousands of arts businesses doubt they will survive the pandemic. Despite that, 3 out of 4 artists have used their creative practice to address community needs, raise morale, and create community cohesion, and over 80% are ready to deploy their creativity to support the recovery, according to research from Americans for the Arts.

To date, 725 arts and culture organizations and creative workers from 48 states and the District of Columbia have endorsed the proposal to Put Creative Workers to Work, which will be shared with both Presidential campaigns and members of Congress.

The proposal encourages decision makers at all levels of government to (1) directly employ creative workers in the recovery, (2) encourage employment of creative workers throughout government and in the private sector in service to recovery, (3) adjust existing local, state, and federal policies that keep creative workers from being treated equally to other workers, (4) integrate creative efforts such as arts-based therapies into response, recovery, and resilience efforts, and (5) support access to arts, culture, and arts education for all Americans-particularly right now.

To view the full 15-action proposal as well as the ever-growing list of endorsing organizations and individuals, visit “To Rebuild and Reimagine America, We Must Put Creative Workers to Work” at

Arts organizations and artists are vital contributors to the nonprofit sector, are essential to the economy of the communities they serve, and they should be supported by all forms of relief.

Without creative workers, we cannot fully recover-and they are ready to serve. So, let’s Put Creative Workers to Work.

By |2020-09-11T09:44:27-06:00September 11th, 2020|News|Comments Off on Americans for the Arts launches collaborative proposal to put creative workers to work in the recovery

Illinois Poet Laureate Search 2020

Illinois Poet Laureate Search 2020. We need your input! Submit your nomination by August 15th!

July 30, 2020

Chicago – Governor Pritzker today announced the formation of the 2020 Illinois Poet Laureate Search Committee. The committee, which is comprised of poets, writers, and academics from across the state, will review nominations and recommend an Illinois resident to become the next state poet laureate, a position that has been vacant since late 2017.

“Illinois has been home to many talented poets like Carl Sandburg, Sandra Cisneros, and Gwendolyn Brooks who all used their words to inspire readers across the world,” said Governor JB Pritzker. “I look forward to hearing from the next generation of great writers and announcing the next Illinois Poet Laureate in the coming months.”

To commemorate the life of Illinois native John Prine and celebrate his writing and musical contributions, Governor Pritzker has proclaimed Prine an Honorary Poet Laureate of the state. The legendary singer-song writer, who was born in Maywood, passed away on April 7, 2020 after contracting COVID-19. Prine is the first to receive such an honorary designation.

“I have no doubt that John would be proud and delighted to receive this recognition from his home state of Illinois,” said Fiona Whelan Prine, wife of John Prine. “Although he had moved to Nashville in the early 1980’s, he continued to visit Chicago, and Maywood in particular, to spend time with his family. John continued to follow Chicago sports teams and had never found a hot dog, pizza or Italian Beef sandwich to rival the originals. Watching John, as I did many times, play to an Illinois audience was always thrilling. A home boy delighting in the love and approval of his loyal fans – some of them family, longtime friends, old school buddies and neighbors.”

Whelan Prine added, “John had a great respect for Writers of all kinds. He regarded Poets as being among those whose work carried weight, relevance and elevated craft. It is such an honor for me, our sons, and the entire Prine family to acknowledge that our beloved John will be named an Honorary Poet Laureate of the State of Illinois. Thank you, Governor Pritzker, for this wonderful recognition.”

The first Illinois Poet Laureate, Howard B. Austin, was named in 1936. Only three other poets have held the title, Carl Sandburg (1962-67), Gwendolyn Brooks (1968-2000), and Kevin Stein (2003-2017). First Lady MK Pritzker will serve as the Honorary Chair and final judge in the selection process for the next Illinois Poet Laureate. Honorary Vice-Chair will be the Chairman of the Illinois Arts Council Shirley Madigan. The 2020 Search Committee members are:

  • Nora Brooks Blakely, Committee Chair, President of Brooks Permissions and daughter of Pulitzer Prize Winner Gwendolyn Brooks
  • Dr. Ruben Quesada, Committee Vice-Chair, Poet, Founder of Latinx Writers Caucus, and Poetry Editor at AGNI
  • Chris Aldana, Poet and Founder of Luya Poetry
  • Tara Betts, Poet and Literary Editor at Newcity
  • Kevin Coval, Poet, Artistic Director at Young Chicago Authors, and Co-Founder of the Louder Than a Bomb youth poetry festival
  • Susan Dickson, Program Director at the Illinois Arts Council Agency
  • Mark Eleveld, English Teacher at Joliet West High School, Professor of Philosophy at Lewis University, and Editor of The Spoken Word Revolution poetry books
  • Kara Jackson, 2019 National Youth Poet Laureate and 2018 Youth Poet Laureate of Chicago
  • Allison Joseph, Poet, Professor of English at Southern Illinois University at Carbondale, and Editor of Crab Orchard Review
  • Greg McCormick, Executive Director of the Illinois State Library
  • Kristin Runyon, English Teacher at Charleston High School
  • Mark Turcotte, Poet and Senior Lecturer in English at DePaul University
  • Sheila Walk, Executive Director of Springfield Area Arts Council

Nominations will be accepted from July 1, 2020 through August 15, 2020 via email or mail. Nominees must be current Illinois residents, have a publication history of poems and/or books, and an established history of activity in Illinois’ literary community.

Nominations may be emailed to or mailed to:

Illinois Poet Laureate Search Committee
c/o Office of the Governor
207 State House
Springfield, IL 62706

A full description of the position qualifications and nominating requirements is available on the website of the Illinois Poet Laureate For more information or questions regarding the Illinois Poet Laureate nomination process and position, please contact:

By |2020-08-12T12:33:54-06:00August 12th, 2020|News|Comments Off on Illinois Poet Laureate Search 2020

Artist on Adams Concert Series Will Bring Live Music to Downtown Springfield This Summer

The Springfield Area Arts Council is joining the Adams Family downtown for five weeks this summer to help local musicians share their talent with our community.

For over thirty years, the Springfield Area Arts Council has hosted a summertime concert series called Artist on the Plaza. This year, the Arts Council will host the program with a new title, Artist on Adams, and a new location, outside Café Moxo. As in previous years, this series will consist of performances by local musicians and is free to the public. The hour-long concerts will be family-friendly and enjoyable for all.

The Arts Council acknowledges the Illinois Arts Council Agency for funding the concerts this year through an arts relief grant.

  •  Tuesdays and Thursdays, July 7 through August 6, 2020
  •  12:00 – 1:00 P.M.
  •  411 E. Adams St.; Springfield, IL
  •  Free on-street parking
  •  Performer list will be available soon on the Arts Council’s website:
By |2020-07-06T14:55:06-06:00July 6th, 2020|News|Comments Off on Artist on Adams Concert Series Will Bring Live Music to Downtown Springfield This Summer
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