Monthly Archives: March 2022



Poetry Out Loud Logo

There is rhyme and reason in Poetry Out Loud’s state winners for 2022.  The Illinois champion, from tiny Franklin High School, is set to compete for a $20,000 national prize in this popular recitation contest.

“I can’t believe it.  I won!” was champion Cole Delaney’s immediate response when the Springfield Area Arts Council announced his name at the top of 17 regional finalists.

Last September, 28 Illinois high schools and 127 teachers began their participation in Poetry Out Loud.  Statewide, 4,597 students competed in eight regions.  Winners there entered the state contest this week, conducted virtually because of the lingering pandemic.

A panel of language-expert judges viewed videos in which each student recited three poems chosen from several hundred approved possibilites, some classic and some modern.  Naomi Kelly from Wheaton Warrenville South High School placed second, and another student from Franklin, Thaddeus Bergschneider, was third.

“They broke my heart with their sincerity,” recalled judge Mark Turcotte, himself a poet.  Othere judges were Joshua Kryah, professor of English, Morgan Minsk, a former Illinois Poetry Out Loud national finalist, and Demetrice A. Worley, also a  professor of English.  Springfield poet and librarian Théa Chesley checked recitation accuracy and mainframe programmer Bob Jessup handled computer scorekeeping.  Technician David Cain managed the recorded entries.

To win the competition, Delaney recited “The Day” by Geoffrey Brock; “Fate” by Carolyn Wells; and “Not Horses” by Natalie Shapero.  He advances to April’s national competition, this year again being staged virtually.

The Illinois contest featured recitations by winning students from each of eight state regions:  Central, Chicago-City, Chicago-Metro, Eastern, Northern, South-central, Southern, and Western.

Here are names and schools of those regional winners:
Audrey Brumley (Carbondale Community High School)
Grace Casey (Freeburg Community High School)
Lauren Dobbels (Orion High School)
Kelcey Dodd (Jefferson High School, Rockford)
Rebecca Drake (Massac County High School)
Olivia Goodley (Annawan High School)
Veda Kommineni (Edwardsville High School)
Skylar Lim (Taft High School, Chicago)
Jocelyn Lin (Carbondale Community High School)
Keaton Meier (Hersey High School, Arlington Heights)
Ariana Mizan (University Laboratory High School, Urbana)
Mabolanle Salawu (Mather High School, Chicago)
Wade Schacht (Champaign Central High School)

The contest coordinator was Sheila Walk, executive director of the Springfield Area Arts Council, assisted by local writer Carey Smith.  State program manager was Susan Dickson of the Illinois Arts Council Agency.

Poetry Out Loud in Illinois is a collaborative project of the Illinois Arts Council Agency and seven arts agencies who host regional contests.  As a national program, Poetry Out Loud:  National Recitation Contest 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 Washington, D.C., the U.S. Virgin Islands, Guam, and Puerto Rico.

More information is available at or from the Springfield Area Arts Council.

Cole Delaney

Cole Delaney, Franklin High School

By |2022-03-20T21:44:50-05:00March 20th, 2022|News, Poetry Out Loud|Comments Off on SPRINGFIELD AREA ARTS COUNCIL ANNOUNCES STATE POETRY OUT LOUD WINNERS

Mayor’s Awards for the Arts

The Office of the Mayor and the Springfield Area Arts Council announce the opening of the nomination period for the 21st Mayor’s Awards for the Arts.  These awards recognize outstanding talent in and dedication to the arts in Sangamon and Menard counties, the area served by the Springfield Area Arts Council.   The eight award categories include Individual Visual Artist; Individual Performing Artist; Individual Literary Artist; Arts Organization; Arts Volunteer; Arts Educator; Arts Student; and Business Committed to the Arts.

The deadline for nominations is 5:30 P.M. on Thursday, March 31, 2022.  Nomination forms for the Mayor’s Awards for the Arts are available now at:

  • reception desks in Springfield’s Municipal Center East and West;
  • the Hoogland Center for the Arts box office;
  • public libraries in Athens, Chatham, Petersburg, Pleasant Plains, Rochester,

Sherman, Springfield, and Williamsville;

They also can be requested via e-mail (

There is no cost.

The awards selection committee, appointed by Springfield’s mayor James Langfelder, will review the nominations and select the award recipients in the designated categories.  The recipients will receive artwork created by a commissioned Sangamon or Menard county artist.

Since the first presentation in 1985, 99 awards have been presented to individuals, organizations, and businesses.

The awards, created by professional photographer Rich Saal, will be presented at a ceremony on Monday, May 2, 2022, at 5:30 P.M. in Theater Three at the Hoogland Center for the Arts.  The public is invited to attend that ceremony and the reception following.

For additional information, please call the Arts Council office (217-753-3519).

By |2022-03-04T10:02:47-06:00March 4th, 2022|News|Comments Off on Mayor’s Awards for the Arts

Take Action To Make Sure The Arts Are In The FY 2022 “Omnibus”

From Americans for the Arts:

Congressional leaders are in the final steps of negotiating an FY 2022 “Omnibus” appropriations bill that would fund the federal government, including federal cultural agencies like the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA). We need you to take action.

These negotiations may also include inclusion of the bipartisan Save Our Stages (SOS) Extension Act to help provide additional support to performing arts organizations that received recovery grants through the Small Business Administration.

Please take two minutes now to contact your congressional delegation and urge them:

1) Match the House-approved funding level of $201 million for both the NEA and NEH to serve every state and every Congressional district in the country.

2) Include the SOS Extension Act in the final Omnibus bill.

This increase to the NEA’s annual budget would yield more engagement for the military community with Creative Forces therapists, increased investment for programs in high poverty communities, a commitment to significant support for racial and climate justice initiatives, and much more. Supporting the NEA directly benefits artists and communities and is even more vital now in the wake of the devastating effects of the pandemic to the cultural sector.

The SOS Extension Act would extend the project period for Shuttered Venue Operator Grantees to use their funds to pay for allowable expenditures incurred from March 1, 2020 through March 11, 2023. 

Contact your members of Congress today and make your voice heard about how vital the arts are to your state and our country!

By |2022-03-01T19:50:18-06:00March 1st, 2022|advocacy|Comments Off on Take Action To Make Sure The Arts Are In The FY 2022 “Omnibus”