$50 million to the creative sector included in Illinois FY2023 budget

It’s official! On Tuesday, Governor Pritzker signed the Fiscal Year 2023 budget package, which includes $50 million for the creative sector! This funding is unprecedented in its scale and focus on our sector. While it isn’t the full amount we asked for, it is on par with two other major sectors that received relief dollars: restaurants also received $50 million, and hotels received $75 million. We are so grateful to all of you and the many Illinois Creative Future Fund partners who advocated for this vital support.

The budget package includes some additional important wins for arts and culture, including capital money appropriation and reappropriation. Check out Arts Alliance Illinois’ full budget analysis for more details about the $50M and other arts and culture-relevant info:

The 50 million dollar question: how can you get access to these relief funds? A new initiative called the Illinois Creative Recovery Grant Program will be created and administered by the Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity (DCEO). All $50 million applies to FY23, which begins July 1, 2022, and DCEO may adopt emergency rules to help move the funds more quickly to our sector.

Many key details of this grant program have not been determined yet, and we know the details of how this is administered will be crucial. Arts Alliance Illinois is working closely with DCEO to influence that process and ensure the creative sector’s needs are met.

Find out more at ArtsAllianceIllinois.org

By |2022-05-28T15:55:17-05:00May 28th, 2022|Uncategorized|Comments Off on $50 million to the creative sector included in Illinois FY2023 budget

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, 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 http://levittampspringfield.org.

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 https://bit.ly/2S3KQyF.

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 leahfarraher@gmail.com.

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 www.pnc.com.

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 levitt.org


  • 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 |2021-05-18T22:40:43-05:00May 18th, 2021|Uncategorized|Comments Off on SEASON TWO OF LEVITT AMP SPRINGFIELD TO START THURSDAY, JUNE 3


Last night, the U.S. Senate unanimously passed the third phase of the coronavirus (COVID-19) response relief package. This $2 trillion emergency stimulus package includes direct support for both nonprofit cultural organizations and state and local arts and humanities agencies, as well as economic relief provisions for independent contractors, “gig economy” workers and artists, entrepreneurs, and small businesses working in the creative economy.

Specifically, the bill includes the following arts-related items to address the continuing damage caused by the COVID-19 virus:

Federal Arts Funding (Note: This is a supplement to their annual appropriations)

  • $75 million for the National Endowment for the Arts
  • $75 million for the National Endowment for the Humanities
  • Special note: Congress accepted our ask to waive matching grant requirements and to waive the requirement for grants to be project-specific. All these new fast-track grants will be for general operating support with no match.
  • $75 million for the Corporation for Public Broadcasting
  • $50 million for the Institute of Library and Museum Sciences
  • $25 million for the Kennedy Center
  • $7.5 million for the Smithsonian

Community Development Block Grants, Small Business Administration, and Unemployment Insurance

  • $5 billion for Community Development Block Grants to cities and counties. Arts groups should work directly with their mayors and local economic development offices for grant support.
  • $350 billion for Small Business Administration (SBA) emergency loans of up to $10 million for small businesses—including nonprofits (with less than 500 employees), sole proprietors, independent contractors, and self-employed individuals (like individual artists)—to cover payroll costs, mortgage/rent costs, utilities, and other operations. These loans can be forgiven if used for those purposes. This new eligibility has been a key element of the CREATE Act we’ve been pursuing;
  • $10 billion for Emergency Economic Injury Disaster Loans (EIDL) for loans up to $10,000 for small businesses and nonprofits to be used for providing paid sick leave for employees, maintaining payroll, mortgage/rent payments, and other operating costs;
  • Expanded Unemployment Insurance (UI) that includes coverage for furloughed workers, freelancers, and “gig economy” workers. The bill also increases UI payments by $600/week for four months, in addition to what one claims under a state unemployment program.

Charitable Giving Tax Deduction

  • An “above-the-line” or universal charitable giving incentive for contributions made in 2020 of up to $300. This provision will now allow all non-itemizer taxpayers (close to 90% of all taxpayers) to deduct charitable contributions from their tax return, an incentive previously unavailable to them. Additionally, the stimulus legislation lifts the existing cap on annual contributions for itemizers from 60 percent of adjusted gross income (AGI) to 100 percent of AGI for contributions made in 2020.

The inclusion of these provisions to help nonprofits, the arts sector, and the creative workforce can be attributed, in part, to the incredible grassroots outreach by arts advocates across the country, coordination with national nonprofit coalitions, and Americans for the Arts and Arts Action Fund.

Americans for the Arts and Arts Action Fund provide offer additional information on how this crisis is impacting the arts in their  national economic snapshot survey and dashboard and their COVID-19 Resource Center. They are also planning a series of webinars through the ArtsU platform to present experts and guidance to the field to help navigate through these new federal provisions during this challenging time. Visit their website for more information.

By |2020-04-16T14:25:14-05:00March 26th, 2020|News, Uncategorized|Comments Off on ARTS SUPPORT INCLUDED IN FEDERAL COVID-19 RELIEF BILL


IMMEDIATE RELEASE                                                                                         

December 3, 2019

Sheila Walk, 217.753.3519
Julia Frevert, 217.789.2235


Springfield, Illinois – The City of Springfield and the Springfield Area Arts Council have announced the opening of the nomination period for the 20th 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 seven award categories include Individual Visual Artist; Individual Performing/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 Monday, December 30, 2019.  Nomination forms for the Mayor’s Awards for the Arts are available online at www.springfield.il.us (http://bit.ly/384OZ8L) and www.springfieldartsco.org. Hard copy nomination packets are available at the reception desks at the Hoogland Center for the Arts box office (420 S. 6th Street), Lincoln Public Library (326 S. 7th Street), Petersburg Public Library (220 S. 6th Street), and Springfield’s Municipal Center reception desk (300 S. 7th Street). Packets also can be requested via e-mail at programs@springfieldartsco.org.

There is no cost to nominate and there is no limit to the number of nominations that may be submitted by a person. However, separate forms must be used for each nomination. Nominations may be submitted for previous nominees who have not been award recipients.

Since the first presentation in 1985, 94 awards have been presented to individuals, organizations, and businesses.  The complete listing of previous winners is attached.

The awards selection committee, appointed by the mayor, will review the nominations and select the award recipients in the designated categories.  The winners will be announced at a ceremony on Monday, January 13, 2020, at 5:30 p.m. in the LRS Theater at the Hoogland Center for the Arts.  The winners also will receive artwork created by a commissioned Sangamon or Menard county artist, a tradition of the Mayor’s Awards for the Arts program.  The public is invited to the ceremony and complimentary reception.

For additional information about the program and nomination process, please call the Arts Council office at 217.753.3519.

By |2019-12-03T21:37:30-06:00December 3rd, 2019|News, Uncategorized|Comments Off on NOW ACCEPTING NOMINATIONS FOR THE 2020 MAYOR’S AWARDS FOR THE ARTS

First Night® Springfield Call for Performers

The Arts Council invites performers (musicians, magicians, artists, dancers, jugglers, et cetera) to be part of our New Year’s Eve celebration.

Springfield Area Arts Council’s signature event is First Night® Springfield, a family friendly, handicapped-accessible, and affordable celebration of the arts. First Night Springfield would not be possible without its generous donors and talented performers who assist us in carrying on a memorable tradition.

This being said, the Arts Council invites performers (musicians, magicians, artists, dancers, jugglers, et cetera) to be part of our New Year’s Eve celebration.

To apply to perform, please submit contact information, a performance sample, and requested stipend for a 45-minute show to the Springfield Area Arts Council at assistant@springfieldartsco.org.

Deadline:  July 31, 2019

For more information, please call 217-753-3519.

By |2019-07-15T04:09:33-05:00July 9th, 2019|News, Uncategorized|Comments Off on First Night® Springfield Call for Performers

Press Release: Poetry Out Loud 2019 Regional Competition

For immediate release                                                                                                               Contact: Sheila Walk

February 4, 2019                                                                                                                                217-753-3519

In the temper and the tantrum, in the well-kept arboretum

I am waiting, like an animal,

For poetry.

By Katy Lederer, “That Everything’s Inevitable” from The Heaven-Sent Leaf (2008)

The Springfield Area Arts Council will host the Poetry Out Loud Central Illinois Regional Contest on Wednesday, February 13, at 4:00 P.M. in Theatre Three at the Hoogland Center for the Arts.  There is no admission cost, and all are welcome.

Poetry Out Loud is a national contest in which students test their skills of oration and interpretation through poetry.  Created by the National Endowment for the Arts and the Poetry Foundation, Poetry Out Loud is administered in partnership with the state arts agencies of all 50 states, the District of Columbia, the U. S. Virgin Islands, and Puerto Rico.  Since the pilot program in 2005, more than 3,000,000 students, 10,000 high schools, and 50,000 teachers have participated in Poetry Out Loud nationwide.  [Source:  National Endowment for the Arts]

In Poetry Out Loud, teenagers select, analyze, and commit to memory classic and contemporary poems for recitation.  Beginning at the classroom level, winners advance to a school-wide competition, then to one of eight regional competitions in Illinois, then to the state tournament, and ultimately to the national finals in Washington, D. C.

The Springfield Area Arts Council partners with the Illinois Arts Council Agency to bring this program to central Illinois.  This year, 11 area high schools, 35 teachers, and 1,395 students are participating.


Decatur:  Eisenhower High School

Eureka:  Eureka High School

Franklin:  Franklin High School

Pawnee:  Pawnee High School

Peoria:  Quest Charter Academy

Rochester:  Rochester High School

Springfield:  Lutheran High School; Sacred Heart-Griffin High School; Southeast High School; Springfield High School

Teutopolis:  Teutopolis Community High School

By |2019-02-10T22:20:38-06:00February 10th, 2019|News, Uncategorized|Comments Off on Press Release: Poetry Out Loud 2019 Regional Competition