Smile Politely

Money well spent: Urbana announced 2016 Arts Grants recipients

Following below is the full press release and list about UPA’s decisions on how to wisely spend what dollars we have on helping people make art in our community. 

I’ve perused the list, and while many folks/groups/orgs on it are unknown to me, there are a few about which I am excited to be an underwriter for (as a taxpaying citizen of Urbana). Here they are, in list order: 


Matt Jacklin, Bringing Ghana  to Urbana: The Traditional Xylophone Music of Ghana

(I have never heard of this guy, but Ghanan xylophones sound rad.)

Guen Montgomery, National Mandate Exhibition

(I saw her at KAM’s faculty exhibition, and was intrigued by why a female Civil War Soldier would be making a letterpress of the advised ways to fend off a shooter.)



Mother Nature, The Miseducation of Hip-Hop

(Sweet. I heard these ladies at PygFest, and they were part of Black Girl Genius Week. Is there more awesome? Oh. Yeah. This.)


The Unreliable Bestiary, BEAR

(Deke Weaver. I have been told a little bit about this. It will be amazing.)


Youth Literature Festival

(I’ve attended three of these so far. I’m biased, but these are my biased picks, and I love this one.) 

Urbana-Champaign Independent Media Center,  IMC Gallery

(They’re around the corner from me and there is art there. Yay!)


CU Folk and Roots, 2016 Champaign-Urbana Folk and Roots Festival

(Responsible for 3 of my 4 Pokey LaFarge experiences, and 1/8 my Robbie Fulks)


Japan House, Matsuri, A Japanese Festival

(There will be another one, and maybe the lines will not be so long this time!)

Allright, enough commentary. Here’s the full list. I am sure they are all equal amounts of awesome, which means this is a banger list. 

The City of Urbana Public Arts Commission is pleased to announce the recipients of the 2016 Urbana Arts Grants Program. Created in 2009, the Urbana Arts Grants Program makes funding available for projects by artists, artist teams, organizations, and festival presenters that enrich the lives of Urbana residents and visitors through the arts.


This eighth funding cycle of the program, 61 applications were received, requesting more than $193,000. Applications were evaluated based on artistic quality, community integration, and project feasibility by two selection panels, each consisting of five community members. A total of $47,500 in funding was awarded to 27 recipients. To recognize these grant recipients, an announcement celebration was held on April 15 in downtown Urbana.


Below are the 2016 Urbana Arts Grants recipients. Descriptions of the projects may be found in the attached document or online at


Individual Category:

1. Luis Gonzalo Pinilla and Patricia Leon, Sharing Memories, The Mirror, City Sponsorship of $2,500

2. Matt Jacklin, Bringing Ghana  to Urbana: The Traditional Xylophone Music of Ghana, City Sponsorship of $1,000

3. Daniel Edwards, Music for Solo Steel Pan, City Sponsorship of $500

4. Lara Orr, Iguales, City Sponsorship of $1,550

5. Claire Happel, Rivertown Duo, City Sponsorship of $1,250

6. Guen Montgomery, National Mandate Exhibition, City Sponsorship of $850

7. Kate Kuper, The Write to Dance, City Sponsorship of $1,250


Group Category:

1. Mother Nature, The Miseducation of Hip-Hop, City Sponsorship of $2,500

2. The Unreliable Bestiary, BEAR, City Sponsorship of $1,750

3. 8 to Create, 8 to Create Live Art Show, City Sponsorship of $2,500

4. La Nuova Aurora Opera, King Arthur: A Semi-Opera by Henry Purcell and John Dryden, City Sponsorship of $2,500

5. Say Uncle, Say Uncle, City Sponsorship of $2,475

Nonprofit Category:

1. BBL Fine Arts Academy, BBL Fine Arts Summer Camp, City Sponsorship of $2,000

2. Robert E. Brown Center for World Music, Balinese Gamelan for Elementary Students, City Sponsorship of $900

3. Central Illinois Puppetry Guild, Puppet Palooza, City Sponsorship of $850

4. Clark-Lindsey, “As I Age” Wall – Imagine the Possibilities, City Sponsorship of $500

5. Champaign Urbana Area Project, CUperStar, City Sponsorship of $1,000

6. Champaign Urbana Symphony Orchestra, We’ve Got Rhythm: The 2016 CUSO Youth Concerts, City Sponsorship of $2,000

7. Urbana-Champaign Independent Media Center,  IMC Gallery, City Sponsorship of $1,500

8. Urbana Pops Orchestra, Urbana Pops Orchestra 2016 Season, City Sponsorship of $2,000

9. Youth Literature Festival, Youth Literature Festival, City Sponsorship of $1,500

Festival Category:

1. 40 North, 2016 Boneyard Arts Festival, City Sponsorship of $4,100

2. CU West African Collective, Midwest Mandeng: A West African Drum and Dance Festival, City Sponsorship of $3,000

3. CU Folk and Roots, 2016 Champaign-Urbana Folk and Roots Festival, City Sponsorship of $3,000

4. Japan House, Matsuri, A Japanese Festival, City Sponsorship of $1,800

5. Makerspace, Heartland Maker Fest 2016, City Sponsorship of $1,325

6. Read Across America, 16th Annual Read Across America Event, City Sponsorship of $1,325 

For more information, visit To stay updated on arts events in Urbana, follow the Urbana Public Arts Program on FacebookTwitter, and Instagram, or subscribe to the Public Arts Program e-newsletter.

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