As most of you reading this are probably aware, Urbana resident Ashley Ames passed away on July 6th from injuries sustained in a May 29th house fire. While her passing was undoubtedly a tragic event, it has rallied the community to a great degree, and a series of vigils, benefit shows and other events have either happened or are planned, the largest of which is this weekend’s Ashleyfest. I sat down with coordinators Brent Faklis and Alice Cronenberg via video message.
SP: How much planning and time goes into an event like this?
Alice: We’re too busy to type out an email, so…
Brent: We especially have been very busy throughout this entire thing, moreso in these past couple weeks.
Alice: In the first two weeks of planning this, Brent and myself put in roughly four to five hours per day, so I’d say overall the first couple weeks was really busy, then it slowed down a little bit, and then the last three weeks it’s pretty much been non-stop festival stuff.
SP: Who all winds up being involved in setting something like this up?
Alice: Well, first we had to find a venue so James Farham (owner of Indigo Gallery) and Natalie Ellis (owner of Class Act) came into it, and then we’ve got people keeping track of artwork, people talking to bands, people doing promotion…
SP: Do you find that bands and artists came to you wanting to participate, or were you mostly contacting them yourselves?
Alice: We had people contacting us non-stop…
Brent: At first, we thought it would be more of an effort contacting people but word got out, and it was like a wildfire.
SP: Where does the money raised from the benefit go to?
Alice: The money that we have left over is going to a scholarship program we’re putting together in honor of Ashley.
SP: Is there anything else you’d like to get out there about the benefit, fund, or other related things?
Brent: Just how grateful we are to everyone for the help. Indigo, Class Act —
Alice: WPGU and Liz from the Daily Illini have been awesome with promotion.
Brent: Weiskamp [Screen Printing] donated shirts very early on.
Alice: This community has helped out so much, V. Picasso put on the other benefit…
Brent: There are so many factors to consider, even going back to the earlier questions, there were legal issues we had to work out in terms of the fundraising —
Alice: David Thies kindly offered his services to help us out with that.
Brent: That’s been a big part of all this, just the logistics of all the internet side of things, there’s gonna be a webstore and auction for all the art that’s going up soon.
Ashleyfest runs tonight (July 29th) thru Saturday at Indigo Gallery and Class Act Interactive in downtown Champaign. Click through to the website for a full schedule and more information. Additionally, the festival is in need of volunteers, especially on Friday and Saturday nights at Class Act. Email firstname.lastname@example.org if you’re interested.