State Journal-Register: Friday night jazz series returns with new name, venue

Springfield State Journal-Register

Thursday, November 4, 2021

Friday night jazz series returns with new name, venue

By Janet Seitz

Upcoming Friday Night Jazz bands

Nov. 5 – Chahrm with Ada Lou

Nov. 12 – Smooth n’ Blue Band

Nov. 19 – Stumpy Joe

Nov. 26 – Frank Trompeter Quartet

The Springfield Area Arts Council is sounding the horns for jazz again.

Uptown Friday Night, a year-round series of jazz concerts held at Robbie’s Restaurant for decades, went on hiatus in March 2020 as a result of the pandemic. Then Robbie’s owner Archer Bailey retired, leaving the Springfield Area Arts Council to search for a new venue.

With musicians and audiences coming out, the jazz series resurrects as Friday Night Jazz and will be held at Boone’s, under new ownership but still locally owned, at 301 W. Edwards St.

The council’s executive director, Sheila Walk, said the new series retains much of the old. ‘We wanted to remain downtown and in a place that is comfortable having live music. It had to be accessible and family-friendly and have food and drink available for purchase but not charge admission. Plus, the venue had to have the appropriate music license and fairly easy parking.’ The 5:30-7:30 p.m. timeframe remains the same.

Walk said this month’s bands are familiar to many, but new bands will debut as the series continues. Generally, a band will only play once a year. This Friday’s event kicks off with Chahrm, known for traditional jazz, vocals and instrumentals.

Walk said the plans are to produce the jazz series year-round indoors or outdoors, keeping health concerns in mind for musicians and audiences. Smooth n’ Blue takes the stage Nov. 12. ‘My groups — Smooth N’ Blue Band, Smooth N’ Blue Duo, Angel Brown Trio, Angel Country Band,’ said Angel Brown, ‘have been most fortunate to continue to perform with the exception of a four-month period when nearly everything was shut down. We have maintained a cautious, considerate approach to performing — masking and distancing in conjunction with vaccines — to protect our venues as well as their patrons. Every venue appeals to a slightly different demographic. We look forward to the opportunity to share our music with a new audience as well as those loyal friends who already follow us.’

‘This program helps the Arts Council fulfill its mission to enrich the community through the arts, Walk said. ‘It’s the kind of everyone wins’ scenario we try to create. Area musicians get paid. The venue attracts more customers. The attendees are entertained. The Arts Council provides free public concerts. Everyone benefits.’

Ada Lou Rogers smiles at the audience as she performs with Chahrm the Band with Ada Lou at Lincoln Land Community College on Feb. 3, 2016. Joining Rogers were were John T. Crisp Jr. on keyboard, Alex Rogers on guitar and Jaro Howse on drums. File/The State Journal-Register

By |2021-11-05T13:08:32-05:00November 5th, 2021|News|Comments Off on State Journal-Register: Friday night jazz series returns with new name, venue


Sketch by Jim Edwards

Uptown Friday Night, a year-round series of jazz concerts held at Robbie’s Restaurant for decades, went on hiatus in March 2020 when the COVID-19 pandemic came to Springfield.  Because Robbie’s owner Archer Bailey retired soon thereafter, the Springfield Area Arts Council had to search for a new venue.  Now that it is safer for musicians and audiences to gather, a new partner for the series has been found.

The Arts Council is happy to announce that Boone’s (301 West Edwards Street, Springfield) will host the best local jazz ensembles each Friday evening.  The renewed series is called Friday Night Jazz.

The new series retains much of the old.  There will be no cover charge; food and beverage will be available for purchase.  The venue is accessible, and families are welcome.  5:30-7:30 P.M. remains the time frame.

November Bands:

5 = Chahrm with Ada Lou

12 = Smooth and Blue Band

19 = Stumpy Joe

26 = Frank Trompeter Quartet

Call Sheila Walk at 217-753-3519 for details.

By |2021-11-01T19:09:58-05:00November 1st, 2021|News|Comments Off on UPTOWN FRIDAY NIGHT Re-starts as FRIDAY NIGHT JAZZ

Arts Council Hosts 24th Biennial On My Own Time Citywide Art Exhibition

The Springfield Area Arts Council’s 24th On My Own Time art exhibition will open on Wednesday, November 3, 2021, in the M. G. Nelson Family Gallery at the Springfield Art Association (700 North Fourth Street, Springfield).  The exhibition will close on Saturday, November 20.  An opening reception will take place on Wednesday, November 3, from 5:30 to 7:30 P.M.  The presentation of awards will begin at 6:15.  The public is invited to attend the reception, which is free, open to the public, and accessible.

Eighty-seven artists submitted one hundred eighty-six works of art to compete in twelve workplace exhibits that were held during October.  A panel of local artists conducted the judging, and all entrants were awarded ribbons for participation in thirteen categories.  Sixty-one pieces of art were selected from the twelve exhibits to receive first place awards, and they comprise the 2021 On My Own Time city-wide exhibit and competition, vying for first-, second-, third-place, and honorable mention awards.  In addition, the Peg Lonson Best of Show Award is given to the overall outstanding art entry in the citywide exhibit.  (Lonson was president of the Springfield Area Arts Council’s Board of Directors from 1984 until 1986, and she later served as Deputy Director of the Illinois Arts Council Agency.  The competition and exhibition is a program she developed in Springfield.)

Rosemary Buffington, coordinator of this year’s program, says, “This is such a worthwhile program both for employees and employers.   It is amazing to see the creativity of those who put in a day’s work and then on their own time create exciting works of art.   The Springfield area is fortunate to have such a tremendous outlet for workers turned artists.”

Participating employers in 2021:

Chatham Public Library

City of Springfield

Illinois Department of Healthcare and Family Services, Office of the Inspector General

Illinois Department of Revenue

Illinois Environmental Protection Agency

Illinois State Board of Education

Illinois State Museum

Illinois State Police

Lincoln Land Community College

Office of the State Appellate Defender

Springfield Public School District 186

The Wardrobe

2021 judges:

Bryon Hartley, glass artist

Mary Ellen Strack, artist and educator

Roger Williams, photographer

On My Own Time is organized as a biennial exhibition program by the Springfield Area Arts Council with funding support from the Illinois Arts Council Agency.  The purpose of the program is to help local businesses, agencies, and educational and medical institutions identify and celebrate the artistic talents of their employees.

For forty-five years, the Springfield Area Arts Council has sought to enrich the community through public access to the arts with a variety of performing and visual arts programs in Sangamon and Menard counties.

By |2021-10-27T21:32:49-05:00October 27th, 2021|News|Comments Off on Arts Council Hosts 24th Biennial On My Own Time Citywide Art Exhibition

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
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