Arts & Humanities Month News

October is National Arts & Humanities Month. Here’s the latest news and and a few ways to help you celebrate.

The Biden White House has released A Proclamation on National Arts and Humanities Month, 2021:

“As our Nation continues to grapple with consequential crises — from combating the ongoing global pandemic and addressing cries for racial justice to tackling the existential threat that climate change poses to our planet — the arts and humanities enable us to both understand our experiences and lift our sights. During this National Arts and Humanities Month, we celebrate the power of the arts and humanities to provide solace, understanding, and healing. We recognize the ability of the arts and humanities to amplify important and diverse voices and messages. We reflect on the fact that, as we have struggled with isolation, anxiety, and the loss of loved ones, we have turned to music and dance, literature and poetry, and philosophy and history to bring us together and help us persevere through, and grapple with, our current moment.”

The Creative Economy Revitalization Act (H.R. 5019/S. 2858) has recently been introduced in both the U.S. House and Senate. This bill would create a $300 million dollar grant program that will mitigate creative worker displacement, stimulate local creative workforce growth, strengthen connections for local creative small businesses and networks, create a pipeline for new creative jobs, enrich communities, increase access to culture, and invest in creative workers and local economies harmed by COVID-19.  Will you take a moment now to ask your members of Congress to become a cosponsor of this important legislation?

All month long, you can join the celebration of what the arts and humanities mean to you and your community. Click here to see all the ways you can engage this month and get to know the official ambassador of National Arts and Humanities Month, Alora Young, a 2021 Youth Poet Laureate.  And be sure to follow our Instagram where we are participating throughout the moth!

By |2021-10-07T10:01:53-05:00October 7th, 2021|News|Comments Off on Arts & Humanities Month News

5th Annual Gwendolyn Brooks Youth Poetry Award

This past Saturday, August 21, ILLINOIS HUMANITIES hosted the virtual awards ceremony for the 5th Annual Gwendolyn Brooks Youth Poetry Awards. This year’s poems celebrated the bonds of family, friendship, and community while also reckoning with social injustices and national tragedy. You can hear our state’s youngest poets perform their award winning work here, and you can read this year’s winning and honorable mention poems here. The ceremony also included the premiere of “For Young Poets,” an original work by Illinois Poet Laureate, Angela Jackson, which she wrote especially for the event.

Find full details here:

By |2021-08-26T22:16:47-05:00August 26th, 2021|News|Comments Off on 5th Annual Gwendolyn Brooks Youth Poetry Award

Springfield artists use talents to encourage COVID-19 vaccines | WICS Newschannel 20

Executive Director Sheila Walk and local musician Ren Nickerson of Idle Oath were featured in a report on local projects that use the arts to fight vaccine hesitancy.

Watch the full report on the Newschannel20 website:

Find out more about the program, including updates and photos, on our Arts Vaccination Campaign page.

By |2021-07-29T11:36:05-05:00July 29th, 2021|News|Comments Off on Springfield artists use talents to encourage COVID-19 vaccines | WICS Newschannel 20

‘Back to the Music’ Program Announced

“It’s time to get back to the music

There is an uplifting sense of community in recent days and weeks as we start to see more and more of our neighbors.

That camaraderie captures the spirit of one of the very first grants from the Community Foundation for the Land of Lincoln toward realizing the goals of The Next 10 – a collaborative community engagement effort for the Greater Springfield Area to define how we take bold steps together for our region’s future. Working to reignite local entertainment by supporting artists’ performances in our community’s restaurants, pubs and venues, the program is appropriately called ‘Back to the Music.’

Every facet of society has felt the brunt of the pandemic the last 15 months, although artists have particularly felt its affliction. With the inability to perform for crowds, Illinois artists and performers experienced a 66% unemployment rate during the pandemic as reported by Arts Alliance Illinois. A $25,000 grant to the Springfield Area Arts Council directly addresses revitalization of local culture as we emerge from the pandemic.

The Back to the Music program addresses a key tenet of The Next 10, furthering the mission of Project #4: A Culturally Rich Community. Not only does this provide economic relief for artists and businesses, but also it revitalizes our culture to bring life and energy to our community. To see the full Visioning Report and learn more about The Next 10, visit

Working with artists across a multitude of genres and backgrounds, the Springfield Area Arts Council is identifying nearly 50 area musicians through its extensive roster to perform in local venues for the program. It provides payment to local artists for performances and gives relief for businesses and venues normally investing hard-earned profits to boost attendance and/or bring in new patrons.

With musicians empowered to approach venues, it provides freedom to local artists to create their own shows. Local musicians – like Virgil Rhodes and Jazz by Footprints or Josie Lowder – can support venues that have supported them in the past or showcase their talents to a new audience.

“Not only were gallery and venue owners safeguarding the public, but also they were cautious regarding their visual and performing artists,” said Sheila Walk, executive director of Springfield Area Arts Council.

“Now that it has become safe to reopen galleries and venues, some assistance is needed. Just as other small businesses received aid during the pandemic, we turn our attention toward community arts. This generous grant will help us get Back to the Music.”

It’s the kind of win-win that the Arts Council and the Community Foundation strive to create – something positive for local artists and businesses and for an eager public awaiting live music.

Stay tuned to the Springfield Area Arts Council’s website and social media to see when and where artists will perform.

Artists lend extraordinary texture and creativity to our community. Let’s show our support to artists as they beautify and enliven Greater Springfield.

To learn more about the Community Foundation for the Land of Lincoln or The Next 10, visit or call 217.789.4431.”

From Aren Dow, “It’s time to get back to the music,” State Journal-Register, July 4, 2021 (

By |2021-07-29T11:35:09-05:00July 20th, 2021|News|Comments Off on ‘Back to the Music’ Program Announced

Artists Support Community Vaccination Efforts

Artists across Illinois are contributing their talents to help communities get vaccinated.

Springfield – As restrictions are lifted, the arts and culture sector in Illinois recognizes
that continuing to get their audiences and communities vaccinated is important for safely
getting back to in-person arts activities. Artists in 24 regions across Illinois are creating
72 pro-vaccination projects this summer as vaccines now are widely available.
Three projects are made possible by collaboration between Arts Alliance Illinois and
Springfield Area Arts Council.

“Artists in every genre were deeply affected by the pandemic,” says Sheila Walk, Arts
Council Executive Director. “Although the venues in which to exhibit or perform their art
were closed, their creativity never stopped. The Arts Council is pleased to offer this
opportunity to area performers, and I know these artists will design powerful messages in
unique formats. Certainly, I appreciate Arts Alliance Illinois for providing funding for artist
stipends, and I look forward to seeing what artists statewide will create through this
program. To protect oneself and one another, it is important that Illinois citizens get the
COVID vaccine, and I hope these artist-designed messages encourage people to be

Four Springfield performing artists have taken on the challenge of creating messages
designed to promote vaccination. Dancer Julio Barrenzuela is organizing a salsa dance
party and family picnic that includes on-site vaccinations. Reggie Guyton, actor and
director, is working with others to create spoken word pieces that address some
common concerns about the vaccination while highlighting the benefits. Musical duo Idle
Oath will write and perform an original song to promote receiving the immunization and
is hiring a visual artist to animate the lyrics.

Vaccination is especially important to the arts and creative sector. Even as the state
moved to Phase 5 on June 11, lifting restrictions on restaurants and businesses, many
cultural centers and venues remain closed and still are managing capacity-limits while
projecting decreased revenue due to state social-distancing recommendations. The arts
industry is eager to return to the work of bringing communities together.
Participating regions include Aurora, Bloomington, Carbondale, Centralia, Champaign-
Urbana, Decatur, DuPage County, East St. Louis, Elgin, Evanston, Galena, Galesburg,
Joliet, Lake County, Mattoon, McHenry County, Oak Park, Peoria, Quad Cities, Quincy,
Rockford, Southeast Suburban Chicago (Dolton, Calumet City, Lansing), South Suburban
Chicago, and Springfield.

arts alliance illinois logo

About Arts Alliance Illinois:
Arts Alliance Illinois fights for arts resources and policies that benefit our members and all
Illinois residents. With 25,000 active subscribers and hundreds of members, we connect
the people and ideas that are shaping the future of the creative sector. As the only multi-
disciplinary organization concentrated on the strength of arts and culture across the
state, the Alliance takes on challenges that no single organization or artist can fight
alone. Our work in civic engagement, arts education, and cultural equity positively
impacts every community across the state. Visit to learn more.

Learn more about these projects at ->

By |2021-07-20T10:55:40-05:00July 20th, 2021|News|Comments Off on Artists Support Community Vaccination Efforts

House Subcommittee Votes on Cultural Agency Funding for Fiscal Year 2022

Last week, the U.S. House Appropriations Committee took significant action on their work to fund the government for fiscal year (FY) 2022. The Interior Subcommittee, chaired by Rep. Chellie Pingree (D-ME), sets funding levels for the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA), National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH), and other cultural agencies. 

The committee voted to accept the Biden Administration’s funding request of $201 million for the NEA and also included $201 million for the NEH to keep the agencies funded in tandem. This is a potential increase of $33.5 million over the FY 2021 budget for both agencies, the largest increase in their history! This is the result of tireless advocacy from around the country, an Administration that understands the value of the creative sector, and bipartisan support in Congress.

During the subcommittee vote, Rep. Pingree said, “The cultural sector has been particularly devastated by COVID-19, and this funding will help to support relief and recovery for community organizations across the country.”

Next, the bill will go before the full House of Representatives for passage. This process will take place over the next several weeks, and the full House vote is anticipated to happen prior to the planned August congressional recess. After the appropriations bills pass the House, the same process begins in the Senate Appropriations Committee.

Visit Americans for the Arts Action Fund for more information on how you can help advocate for increased funding for cultural agencies.

By |2021-07-05T15:01:23-05:00July 5th, 2021|advocacy, News|Comments Off on House Subcommittee Votes on Cultural Agency Funding for Fiscal Year 2022

Rahele Megosha from South Dakota Named 2021 Poetry Out Loud National Champion

2021 Poetry Out Loud National Champion Rahele Megosha. Screenshot by James Kegley from Poetry Out Loud national finals video submission

2021 Poetry Out Loud National Champion Rahele Megosha. Screenshot by James Kegley from Poetry Out Loud national finals video submission

Washington, DC—Following recitations of poetry by Linda Pastan, Jehanne Dubrow, and Mary Lamb, Rahele Megosha, a senior at Washington High School in South Dakota, was announced as the 2021 Poetry Out Loud National Champion during last night’s national finals webcast at Megosha will receive a prize of $20,000.

The second-place winner is Kendall Grimes, a junior at Battle Ground Academy in Tennessee, who receives a $10,000 prize. The third-place winner is Soojin Park, a senior at Auburn High School in Alabama, who receives a $5,000 prize. The remaining six students who competed in the finals will each receive a $1,000 prize. The schools of each of the top nine finalists will receive $500 to purchase poetry materials.

This is the 16th year that the National Endowment for the Arts and Poetry Foundation have partnered with the state and jurisdictional arts agencies to support Poetry Out Loud, a program that encourages the nation’s youth to learn about great poetry—both classic and contemporary—through memorization and recitation. The Poetry Foundation provides and administers all aspects of the monetary prizes awarded for Poetry Out Loud. The Poetry Out Loud national finals are administered by Mid Atlantic Arts.

In a short video about the impact of Poetry Out Loud, Megosha said: “Being able to get to know these different poets and their different poems, it really helps me understand the multitude of perspectives that exist in this world and I think that’s a really beautiful thing.”

Last night’s national finals were the culmination of the 2020-2021 Poetry Out Loud program, with thousands of students from all 50 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands, Guam, and American Samoa participating during this school year. Both the national semifinals and finals took place virtually in 2021, with state and jurisdictional champions submitting pre-recorded videos that were reviewed and scored by judges based on criteria including physical presence, voice and articulation, dramatic appropriateness, evidence of understanding, overall performance, and accuracy. Read more about all 55 state and jurisdictional champions in the national finals program book.

The National Endowment for the Arts also recently announced the 2021 winners of the Poetry Ourselves, a second competition open to the Poetry Out Loud state and jurisdictional champions to highlight their original poetry. Read about the winners of that competition on the NEA’s website.

By |2021-06-01T01:14:30-05:00June 1st, 2021|News, Poetry Out Loud|Comments Off on Rahele Megosha from South Dakota Named 2021 Poetry Out Loud National Champion

Artist on the Plaza Begins 2021 Season June 1st

The Springfield Area Arts Council’s mission is to enrich the community through the arts.  To help fulfill that mission, the Arts Council produces an outdoor summer performance series called Artist on the Plaza.  The performance series is free to the public and features local talent.  Funding for the 2021 season comes from the Illinois Arts Council Agency.

Artist on the Plaza

Takes place every Tuesday and Thursday between Memorial Day and Labor Day (June 1 – September 2)

12:00 – 1:00 P.M.

On the Old State Capitol south lawn (near Fifth and Adams in downtown Springfield)

This concerts are family-friendly and are the perfect way to spend a lunch hour or to take a break from seeing the sites.

Bring lawn chairs or blankets.  Shade provided.  Free.  Accessible.


June                                                      August

1 Robert Sampson                           3 Adrian Russo

3 Josie Lowder                                  5 St. Andrew’s Society Dancers

8 Dennis Darling                                10 Jaden Saunders

10 John Drake                                    12 Tom Irwin

15 Colin Helton                                  17 Prairie Winds Flute Ensemble

17 After-school Special                  19 Capital City Big Band

22 Messengers for Christ              24 Derrick Streibig

24 Springfield Dance                       26 Tad Derek O’Brien

29 Mike Anderson                           31 Sam Crain

July                                                        September

1 Craig Russo                                      2 Peaches and Bacon

6 Erica Egger

8 David Tell

13 Phil Steinberg

15 Rhodes and Battles

20 Arlin and Erin

22 Ian Wick

27 Springfield Theatre Centre

29 Micah Walk

Attached:  Art by local artist Jim Edwards

By |2021-06-01T01:04:30-05:00June 1st, 2021|News|Comments Off on Artist on the Plaza Begins 2021 Season June 1st

We’re asking for $500Million for Illinois arts and culture! Other states are going big: New York just passed a one-year budget that gives over $200 million in dedicated funds for the arts, plus $800 million in recovery grants, California legislators are championing a $1 billion package for the arts. Illinois must invest!  

The American Rescue Plan dollars coming to our state are meant to help the people and industries hardest hit by COVID. Arts venues were the first to close and are likely last to reopen. Arts education is getting cut when students need it most. We need big action from the state, with priorities for BIPOC and rural communities. Please email/call your legislators to support the Illinois Creative Future Fund! 

We were the first to close and will be the last to reopen. Ask your state legislators to dedicate $500 million to the arts! This is the last week of the legislative session, now’s the moment. 

Read the full proposal and take action here:

By |2021-05-25T11:16:39-05:00May 25th, 2021|advocacy, News|Comments Off on


SPRINGFIELD, IL. May 14, 2021 – The Levitt AMP Springfield Music Series, a 10-week series of free and live music presented by PNC Bank, is coming back to Springfield for a second season June 3, through Aug. 5. The concerts will showcase a diverse lineup of high-caliber talent from across the country, performing at 6 p.m. each Thursday, on the vacant block north of the Illinois Governor’s Mansion. For a full schedule of concerts and additional information about the artists, visit

The first season in 2019 attracted more than 7,700 attendees and was voted “Best Free Entertainment” by Illinois Times readers. The event’s second season was originally scheduled for the summer of 2020 but postponed due to COVID-19.

“We strongly believe in the correlation between access to the arts and enhancing communities,” said Brian Ray, PNC regional president of Central Illinois. “Bringing back this music series to downtown Springfield will allow our neighborhoods to once again come together, in a safe and socially distant environment, to celebrate a diverse and culturally rich experience.”

“Following the extraordinary challenges of the past year, the power of public space and live music to nourish our well-being and create shared experiences has taken on even greater importance,” said Sharon Yazowski, executive director of the Mortimer & Mimi Levitt Foundation. “We’re excited to see Downtown Springfield Heritage Foundation and its partners breathe renewed energy into the Y Block through the return of the Levitt AMP Springfield Music Series, inspiring joy and a sense of community for all who come.”

Admission is free and the public is invited to bring their own picnics, blankets, lawn chairs and enjoy the concerts. In order to safely accommodate larger crowds, organizers are painting large circles – or pods – on the grass to allow for social distancing. Attendants are asked to wear face masks except when sitting inside 8×8-foot pods, in groups of up to six people. These pods are available on first-come, first-served basis.

Attendees also are encouraged to support local restaurants by picking up takeout on their way to the block to serve as their picnic. Beverages will be available on site for purchase. Restaurants interested in serving food to concert-goers should fill out the form at

Generous series sponsors include the Community Foundation for the Land of Lincoln, Isringhausen Imports, US Bank, Levi Ray & Shoup, Downtown Springfield Heritage Foundation, the Illinois REALTORS, Springfield Park District, City of Springfield, Wyndham Springfield City Centre, Central Baptist Church, La Piazza, Springfield Jaycees, Star Graphics, Springfield Area Arts Council, Republic Services and Downtown Springfield Inc.

Other sponsors include the Springfield Black Chamber of Commerce, Urban Action Network, Kerber Eck & Braeckel, Conn’s Hospitality, Heartland Coca Cola, NPR Illinois’ Nightsounds, Cavanagh & O’Hara, Springfield NAACP, Midwest Family, Capitol Radio Group, Neuhoff Media, plus Aldermen Shawn Gregory, Kristin DiCenso, Joe McMenamin, Jim Donelan and Erin Conley.

Those interested in volunteering at the concerts should contact the Springfield Jaycees at

Follow Levitt AMP Springfield on FacebookInstagram and Twitter for updates and weather changes.


About PNC Bank

PNC Bank, National Association, is a member of The PNC Financial Services Group, Inc. (NYSE: PNC). PNC is one of the largest diversified financial services institutions in the United States, organized around its customers and communities for strong relationships and local delivery of retail and business banking including a full range of lending products; specialized services for corporations and government entities, including corporate banking, real estate finance and asset-based lending; wealth management and asset management. For information about PNC, visit

About The Levitt AMP Springfield Music Series

The Levitt AMP Springfield Music Series is supported in part by the Mortimer & Mimi Levitt Foundation, a private foundation that partners with towns and cities across America to activate underused public spaces, creating thriving and inclusive destinations where people of all ages and backgrounds come together through the power of free, live music. In 2021, free Levitt concerts will bring a broad array of musical experiences and high-caliber artists to communities nationwide. Learn more at


  • The Springfield Park District will be hosting children’s activities during each evening of the concerts.
  • The Springfield Jaycees will host their annual dog pageant with the series on Thursday, July 1.
  • The Juneteenth Celebration Committee and Springfield Black Chamber of Commerce are co-hosting June 17 as the first night of a weekend-long celebration of Juneteenth, also called Freedom Day or Emancipation Day, as it commemorates the last slave becoming free on June 19, 1865.
  • The HipHop Xpress, an internet-connected mobile classroom and sound studio inspired by George Washington Carver’s Jesup wagon, will be parked on 4th Street during a performance in June so that people can make their own music during the intermissions.
  • The Abraham Lincoln Presidential Museum’s new exhibit, “State of Sound: A World of Music from Illinois,” explores the incredible contributions Illinois has made to music through music, video and stunning artifacts, including a Cheap Trick guitar and Mahalia Jackson’s first record. The exhibit is open to the public 9 a.m. – 5 p.m. daily, just a few blocks from the Y Block.
By |2021-05-18T22:42:12-05:00May 18th, 2021|Levitt AMP, News|Comments Off on SEASON TWO OF LEVITT AMP SPRINGFIELD TO START THURSDAY, JUNE 3
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