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Young Poets Pen Prize-winning Poems

Two teen winners have been announced for the inaugural Illinois POETRY OURSELVES contest. Naomi Kelly from Wheaton Warrenville South High School (in Chicago suburb Wheaton) placed first, and Thaddeus Bergschneider from Franklin High School (in the central Illinois village of Franklin) took second.

The pair wrote and submitted their own authored poems and were two of seventeen high-schoolers invited to compete. Entries came from students who had been named Illinois finalists in a national competition for reciting classic and contemporary poems, Poetry Out Loud.

“I am thrilled that our state launched this new venture that brings teens and poetry together,” said Sheila Walk, executive director of the Springfield Area Arts Council and manager of both competitions. Walk stated she asked the eight Illinois regional coordinators to judge students’ creations and made sure no names or home schools were visible during the judging. The Illinois Arts Council Agency sponsored and oversaw POETRY OURSELVES.

“The skill and passion evidenced in these works bring a wonderful spotlight to young people in Illinois. They are creative and insightful,” said Walk when announcing the winning poems.

“Arm the Children” by Bergschneider is a plea. It says in part “…give them hope…give them words…give them love / which knows / that the only loss / is not to fight at all.” He is a junior in a high school with approximately 80 students.

Wheaton senior Kelly penned “The Places You’ll Go.” She wrote in part “…I witnessed humanity grapple against itself…I witnessed the innocent pay the price.” The population of her school stands at about 1,900 students.

Winners will receive specially-designed trophies. All POETRY OURSELVES participants received a writing journal.

Poetry Out Loud Logo

By |2022-04-11T10:10:26-05:00April 11th, 2022|News|Comments Off on Young Poets Pen Prize-winning Poems

SPRINGFIELD AREA ARTS COUNCIL ANNOUNCES STATE POETRY OUT LOUD WINNERS

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 www.poetryoutloud.org 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 (programs@springfieldartsco.org).

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”

SPRINGFIELD AREA ARTS COUNCIL ANNOUNCES CENTRAL ILLINOIS REGIONAL WINNERS

From “I Am Offering this Poem” by Jimmy Santiago Baca

I am offering this poem to you,

since I have nothing else to give.

Keep it like a warm coat

when winter comes to cover you,

or like a pair of thick socks

the cold cannot bite through.

I love you. 

These words, among those recited by Thaddeus Bergschneider of Franklin High School, earned him first place in the Central Illinois Poetry Out Loud Contest held at the Hoogland Center for the Arts on Thursday afternoon, February 10, 2022.

Cole Delaney of Franklin High School  and Jackson Vogel of Eureka High School were the second- and third-place finishers in the competition.  Due to the pandemic, the regional contest audience was limited to parents and teachers of the contestants.

Bergschneider and Delaney will advance to the virtual Illinois State Contest in March.  The Illinois State Contest will feature recitations by two students from each Poetry Out Loud region in the state.  The Illinois State champion will advance to the national competition.

973 students and 17 teachers in 6 schools began the 2022 Poetry Out Loud season in central Illinois last fall.

Other contestants in the Central Illinois Regional Contest were

Elizabeth Palagi and Jazmyn Schnetzler, Eisenhower High School (Decatur)

Emma Ingersoll, Eureka High School (Eureka)

Josephine Brunner, Lutheran High School (Springfield)

Jillian Herter and Gracie Reeder, Sacred Heart-Griffin High School (Springfield)

Dallis Anderson, Springfield High School (Springfield)

Contest staff for the Central Illinois Regional Contest included

Recitation judges:  Anne Bishoff (Athens), Matt Schwartz (Jacksonville), Shatriya Smith (Springfield)

Accuracy judge:  Thèa Chesley (Springfield)

Scorekeeper:  Bob Jessup (Springfield)

Prompter:  June Russell (Lewiston)

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 www.poetryoutloud.org.

 From left to right - Second: Cole Delaney; First: Thaddeus Bergschneider; Third: Jackson Vogel

From left to right – Second:  Cole Delaney;   First:  Thaddeus Bergschneider;   Third:  Jackson Vogel

Photo by Will Armitage

By |2022-02-23T17:43:12-06:00February 14th, 2022|News, Poetry Out Loud|Comments Off on SPRINGFIELD AREA ARTS COUNCIL ANNOUNCES CENTRAL ILLINOIS REGIONAL WINNERS

SAAC announces recipients of 2022 COMMUNITY ARTS ACCESS grants

Springfield Area Arts Council is pleased to announce the recipients of its 2022 COMMUNITY ARTS ACCESS grants in Sangamon and Menard counties.

Community Arts Access grants are given in conjunction with the Illinois Arts Council Agency.  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.

Garvey-Tubman Cultural Arts and Research Center – Music Lessons

Hoogland Center for the Arts – Disney’s Descendants

Illinois State Museum Society – Noir:  Art Exhibition

James Weldon Johnson Study Guild – Writing Contest

Land of Lincoln Barbershop Chorus – Barbershop n Country Concert

Menard County Singers – Rehearsal and Performance Space Rental

The Pharmacy Gallery and Art Space – Emerging Artist Program

Scholastic Art Awards, Mid-Central Illinois Region – Honors Day Classes

Senior Services of Central Illinois – Senior Art Classes in Acrylics

Springfield International Folk Dancers – Rehearsal Space and Costume Storage Rental

Springfield Urban League – After-school Art Academy

Theatre in the Park – Pre-show Entertainment

Voices of Love, Peace, and Joy – Music Scholarship Contest

By |2022-01-05T21:01:19-06:00January 5th, 2022|News|Comments Off on SAAC announces recipients of 2022 COMMUNITY ARTS ACCESS grants

2021 First Night® Springfield Coronavirus Update

The Springfield Area Arts Council announces cancellation of most 2021 First Night® Springfield performances and activities set for this Friday due to a surge in coronavirus infections throughout Illinois.

“The weight of wisdom from many corners brought the Arts Council board to this decision,”  said Sheila Walk, executive director of the Arts Council.  “This record-setting rise in cases statewide drives us to protect our performing artists and all our potential attendees in and around Springfield.”

All afternoon and evening events at both the Hoogland Center for the Arts and the nearby First Presbyterian Church will not take place, and there is no virtual or online version.

“We care about art.  We care about our community.  Although this year’s 35th annual celebration of the arts is COVID-cancelled, please join us in looking forward to First Night Springfield 35.0 on December 31, 2022,” said Walk while thanking all who have contributed to the now-scratched event.

Friday Night Jazz, this week featuring Stone Cold Blues Band, will continue as planned from 5:30 p.m. to 7:30 pm at Boone’s at 301 East Edwards Street.  Following pandemic protocols is encouraged.

Hoogland Center for the Arts will contact current First Night ticket holders to refund all charges.  For details, contact the Springfield Area Arts Council at 217-753-3519.

By |2021-12-29T20:43:20-06:00December 29th, 2021|News, Uncategorized|Comments Off on 2021 First Night® Springfield Coronavirus Update

Springfield Area Arts Council announces 35th Annual First Night© Springfield

Downtown Springfield once again will celebrate New Year’s Eve with fireworks, crafts, entertainment, and fun for all.

December 31st marks the 35th year the Springfield Area Arts Council has hosted this local celebration of the arts, a family-friendly event enjoyed by tens of thousands since 1987.

“We are proud and excited to offer this event to our capital city again,” said Sheila Walk, Arts Council executive director, adding most activities will take place inside the Hoogland Center for the Arts at 420 South Sixth Street.

Younger folks are invited for artful activities free of charge from 1:00 to 4:00 P.M. on New Year’s Eve at the Hoogland.  These afternoon events are presented by Creative Reuse Marketplace, Dana-Thomas House, Garvey-Tubman Center, Illinois State Museum, Lincoln Memorial Gardens, Lowe’s, Springfield Art Association, and YMCA.  Springfield Dance also will perform.  No pre-registration is required.

Friday Night Jazz, free music sponsored for decades by the Arts Council, will take place in early evening at Boone’s, 301 West Edwards (just west of the Illinois State Museum) from 5:30 to 7:30 featuring Stone Cold Blues Band.  Boone’s offers drinks and food for sale; there is no cover charge.

First Presbyterian Church at 321 South Seventh Street will host a locally-written play by Robert Davis to mark Watch Night, an African-American tradition.   It recalls the vigil leading to January 1, 1863, when Abraham Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation freed southern Blacks held in slave bondage.  The play will be performed at 6:00 P.M.  Also in the church sanctuary, at 7:00 P.M., organist and music historian Paula Romanaux will perform works by modern African-American composers.  There is no charge for these First Presbyterian performances, although donations will be accepted.

From 7:00 P.M. to 11:00 P.M., many entertainments will roll out inside the Hoogland Center.  Those groups already set to perform include Capital City Improv, International Brotherhood of Magicians Ring 239, Spencer Films, Springfield International Folk Dancers, Springfield Muni, and the host Arts Council; other performance groups may be added soon.  Sangamon Watercolor Society will exhibit members’ work in the gallery.  Tickets are $5 for youth and $20 for adults.  They may be purchased at the door or in advance by going to Hoogland’s website:  www.hcfta.org.

Performances will take place on several stages inside Hoogland’s spacious four floors.  Guests will receive detailed schedules upon arrival.

Arena Food Services will provide light refreshments for sale during both afternoon and evening in the Hoogland Center lobby.

“While we are thrilled to bring these talents to our Springfield community, especially after their absence for so many months, we still are mindful of pandemic protocols,” commented director Walk.  “We will have masks and sanitizer for everyone who needs them and ask our guests to keep one ballet leap apart whenever they can.”

Fireworks will start shortly after the conclusion of activities inside the Hoogland, at 11:15 P.M.  People are invited to gather at the intersection of Capitol Avenue and Fourth Street for the show, which will end in time to reach other destinations for the stroke of midnight.

“Springfield can take pride that this family-friendly, alcohol-free, and fully-accessible New Year’s Eve celebration has so many partners,” Walk said.  She named the City of Springfield for assisting with the fireworks display, the Abraham Lincoln Association for sponsoring the Watch Night play, and the Hoogland Center for providing rent-free performance space annually for seventeen years.  Walk added that the Arts Council will share proceeds from this First Night with the Hoogland Center.

Walk also noted the passing in 2021 of two men long associated with this local celebration of the arts.  Springfield Police Sergeant Robert “Bob” Dilley worked First Night for years and after his retirement volunteered to staff the event’s operations center in the Arts Council office.  Carl “Boom Boom” Steinmacher was lead pyro-technician of all but one of Springfield’s 34 First Nights.  “Both these fine people are missed,” said Walk.

By |2021-12-20T16:36:11-06:00December 17th, 2021|News|Comments Off on Springfield Area Arts Council announces 35th Annual First Night© Springfield
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