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Urbana Arts Grantees to be revealed Tuesday, April 16th

Okay. Am I the only one who's dying to know the names of the 2019 Urbana Arts Grantees? Well, the wait is almost over.  On Tuesday, April 16th, The Urbana Public Arts Program will open the proverbial envelopes at Blackbird from 5:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. Come grab a drink, meet this year's winners and find out what exciting new things are in store for our local arts scene. 

Find out more about UPAP's Sneek Peak event on Facebook.

Photo from UPAP's Facebook page.


Consider volunteering for Austin’s Day of Service

Austin's Day of Service is an annual event that honors Austin Cloyd, a Centennial High School grad who was tragically killed in the mass shooting at Virginia Tech in 2007. 

This year's event will be April 6th, and it's a day where local students and community members are invited to participate in service projects throughout C-U. From the Facebook event:

The public is invited to participate and volunteer in this event on April 6 from 9:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. Shifts will run in two hour time slots from 9:30-11:30, 11:30-1:30, and 1:30-3:30.

Some of the organizations that will be involved in Austin’s Day are:

- Champaign Unit 4 schools
- Champaign Park District
- The Humane Society
- Courage Connections
- Evergreen Place
- Daily Bread Soup Kitchen

If you are interested in volunteering as an individual or with a group, you can register here. You will have an opportunity to give your time and type of work preferences, then you will be assigned a job within 24 hours of the event.


Habitat for Humanity is hosting several “money smart” workshops next week

Habitat for Humanity of Champaign County has joined up with Money Smart Week Champaign County to host several workshops about managing your home and your money well. All listed events are free, and are happening at ReStore, 119 E. University in Champaign. Here is what they are offering:

Home Maintenance

March 30th, 9 a.m. to 12 p.m. 

Are you ready to buy a home?

April 2nd, 6 to 8 p.m.

Budgeting, Saving, and Record Keeping

April 3rd, 6 to 8 p.m.

Understanding Credit

April 4th, 6 to 8 p.m.

Affordable Home Ownership

April 6th, 9:30 a.m. to 12 p.m.

There are a few other Money Smart Week workshops happening at other locations, you can find those here.

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Rapper, actor, screenwriter, and social activist Tamer Nafar is coming to Allen Hall on Monday night

Palestinian rapper Tamer Nafar will be presenting My Life in Song for free on Monday night, which will include a performance and discussion in addition to Mediterranean/Levantine cuisine. This show is open to the public, and is an wonderful example of how rich and diverse the music scene in Champaign Urbana truly is.

Nafar grew up in the particularly turbulent town of Lyd (Arabic spelling; also known as Lod, Hebrew spelling), in Israel, and his experiences there have shaped his music and informed his activism. Monday’s show is an excellent opportunity to learn more about how Nafar has situated himself as an artist amid the relative chaos of national and international tension. You can check out his sound before the show on Spotify.

Tamer Nafar
Allen Hall
1005 W Gregory Dr
7 p.m.

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Youth Lit Festival to feature free community day, March 30th

The 2019 Youth Literature Festival, co-sponsored by the College of Education at Illinois and the University of Illinois Library, will feature a free community day on March 30th.  Held at the I Hotel, this family-friendly event will feature face painting, arts and crafts, live music, storytelling and puppet performances, youth author talks and book signings and Super Why! from PBS Kids.

Find out more  here

Photo from the Youth Literature Festival Facebook page. 


Aloft Hotel planned for Downtown Champaign space

There have been varying stages in this discussion about the lot at 401 N. Neil in Downtown Champaign over the course of two or three years. The News-Gazette has revealed that the hotel brand that will be heading to Downtown Champaign is Marriott's brand, Aloft Hotel. Though things aren't slated to move until later this year, and the hotel "likely won't be completed until next year", this is news.

There's some backstory of course. Initially, we reported that the Best Western brand, Hotel VIB, was slated to go in that space. Now the conversation has shifted to Aloft.

Top photo from Wikipedia Commons


Ebertfest 2019 film schedule, guests announced

The full schedule for this year's Ebertfest at the Virginia Theatre has been announced. Check out the full release below via the U of I News Bureau, but Sideways and Almost Famous will be screened, as well as BoundAmazing Grace, A Year of the Quiet Sunand more. 

Featured guests include Gina Gershon, Jennifer Tilly, Virginia Madsen, and more.

Ebertfest takes place April 10-13 this year, and single tickets for films go on sale on April 1st.

Read our recap from 2018 here.

From the U of I News Bureau:

CHAMPAIGN, Ill. — The schedule is out for this year’s Roger Ebert’s Film Festival hosted by Chaz Ebert, or “Ebertfest,” coming to Champaign-Urbana April 10-13.

The 12-film lineup includes “Bound,” the first film by the writer-director team that later made “The Matrix,” with co-stars Gina Gershon and Jennifer Tilly coming as guests; “Sideways,” with Oscar-nominated Virginia Madsen as a guest; Cameron Crowe’s “Almost Famous”; documentaries on poet/writer Maya Angelou and children’s TV host Fred Rogers; and a rescued African-American Romeo-and-Juliet romance, “Cane River,” set in Louisiana.

Chaz Ebert said she “couldn’t be happier” in welcoming Gershon, Madsen and Tilly to the festival as guests, describing them as “three of Roger’s favorite actresses.” They and other guests will appear onstage for Q&As after the screening of their films.

Additional films are Jonathan Demme’s “Rachel Getting Married,” which earned Anne Hathaway an Oscar nomination; “Cold War,” a Polish nominee in this year’s Oscars for best foreign language film; “Coeur Fidele” (“The Faithful Heart”), a French silent film from 1923; and the comedy “Romy and Michelle’s High School Reunion,” starring Lisa Kudrow and Mira Sorvino.

As previously announced, Ebertfest also will feature the Aretha Franklin concert film “Amazing Grace,” which will open the festival, as well as “A Year of the Quiet Sun,” a post-World War II romance starring the late Scott Wilson, who had been a frequent Ebertfest guest. Opening night also will include a performance by the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Community Choir of Champaign-Urbana.

Tickets for individual films go on sale April 1. Festival passes covering all screenings are still available.

Among other guests appearing with their films will be producers Alan Elliott and Tirrell D. Whittley, with “Amazing Grace”; and directors Rita Coburn Whack, with “Maya Angelou: And Still I Rise”; David Mirkin, with “Romy and Michelle’s High School Reunion”; and Morgan Neville, with the Fred Rogers documentary “Won’t You Be My Neighbor?”

Neville also will receive this year’s Ebert Humanitarian Award, given the focus of his documentary on the “radical kindness” of Mister Rogers, Chaz Ebert said.

All films are shown in the ornate 1,500-seat Virginia Theatre, a restored downtown Champaign movie palace opened in 1921, which boasts a big screen, high-quality projection and sound, and a theatre organ. Panel discussions and other events are held at the Hyatt Place in downtown Champaign and the U. of I.

The schedule of screenings can be found at, along with reviews. Information about other events and video retrospectives from previous festivals can be found elsewhere on the website. Also on the website at the time of the event will be a link to live streaming of panel discussions and the post-film Q&A sessions.

This year marks six years since Roger Ebert’s death. The festival will celebrate his TV partnership with Chicago Sun-Times film critic Richard Roeper – by way of clips from their “Ebert & Roeper” broadcasts and in-depth Q&As with Chaz following the screening of Roeper’s film selections, “Almost Famous” and “Sideways.”

As in previous festivals, the silent film will be accompanied by the Alloy Orchestra.

An added feature of this year’s festival will be virtual reality demonstrations on the plaza outside the Virginia Theatre in between films on April 12, hosted by the Center for Innovation in Teaching and Learning at the U. of I., through its Virtual Reality Lab and Innovation Studio.  The demos will consist of short films that allow viewers to experience border crossings, natural disasters or joyous occasions in other countries.

“Roger was very much a techie and would have loved the fact that we are bringing a VR demonstration to Ebertfest that will give our audience a chance to experience empathy through the lens of technology,” Chaz Ebert said.

Ebertfest was co-founded in 1999 by Chicago Sun-Times film critic and University of Illinois alumnus Roger Ebert and his wife, Chaz. Organized in collaboration with the College of Media at the U. of I., the festival in large part celebrates films, genres and formats that have been overlooked by distributors, audiences and/or critics.

Since Roger Ebert’s death in 2013, Chaz Ebert has served as the festival producer, as well as host, working with longtime festival director Nate Kohn in selecting the films. They draw from lists Roger made over the first 15 years of the festival and select others based on his established criteria.

Festival passes, covering all screenings, are available for $150 plus processing. A four-pack of passes can be purchased for $510, or 15 percent off. Additionally, a small number of U. of I. student passes will be made available at $100 each.

All passes can be purchased through or at the Virginia Theatre box office, 203 W. Park Ave., Champaign, 217-356-9063.

Those interested in being a festival sponsor should contact Andy Hall, the festival’s project coordinator, at


Additional information and updates available at'

Top photo by Sam Logan

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Here’s your lineup for the first year of Flor Fest


There's a new festival in town this spring. Flor Fest, set to take place at the IMC on April 5th, is designed to bring together DIY/Emo bands in and around CU. The majority of proceeds from this show will be donated to the UP Center, a local organization dedicated to supporting the LGBTQ+ community). Check out the lineup below, and head to the festival’s website here for more information, ticket details, and links to the artists’ music.

Today's Children
Urbana, IL
Chicago, IL
The Telephone Junkies
Springfield, IL
Ex Cathedra
Urbana, IL
Lost Wilderness
Park Ridge, IL
Silent Generation
Urbana, IL
Feed the Monkeys
Chicago, IL
Jake Fava
Champaign, IL
Warm Darn
Champaign, Illinois
Chicago, IL
Tarun Mahajan
Champaign, IL
This is A Stick Up!
Decatur, Illinois
Jordan Kahn
Chicago, IL
Alien Thing
Chicago, IL
Clockwork Owl
Champaign, Illinois
Dani Avila
Champaign, IL
Karthik Kakarala
Champaign, IL
Edgar Cuevas
Norridge, IL  

From Circumstances
Champaign, Illinois
Ben Cheslow
Champaign, IL
Patrick Fang
Champaign, IL
Anika Emily
Champaign, IL
Wes Harmony
Champaign, IL
Kathleen Dowling
Chicago, IL


Enchantment Alley’s new location in Downtown Urbana opens March 20th

Enchantment Alley announced they would be moving to Downtown Urbana back in February, and with that announcement, said that they would be opening their new location on the 20th. That time has come, and they have mentioned they will officially open at 123 W. Main Street this Wednesday, March 20th. They stuck to what they said, so I thought it would make sense to reconfirm that with the readers here.

Check out their Facebook post:

Top photo by Enchantment Alley

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Looking to adopt a pet? Hit 25 O’Clock Brewing this Sunday

25 O’Clock is teaming up with Hospice Hearts to host an adoption and fundraising event. Well-behaved pups are invited to attend with their owners. The event will include adoptable pets, a raffle, merchandise, pies for sale by the  Oh, Honey Pie truck, and of course, delicious beers.

Get Lucky: Hospice Hearts at 25 O'Clock Brew
208 W. Griggs St., Suite 101
Urbana, Illinois 61801
Sunday, March 17th
12 p.m. to 5 p.m.


Offer your thoughts about a possible food scrap collection program in Urbana

U-Cycle, the City of Urbana's recycling program, is considering the possibility of a "voluntary, subscription-based food scrap collection program."

Urbana residents are encouraged to fill out this survey by April 5th at 12 p.m. to give input on your food waste practices. Survey participants will be entered into a drawing for a $50 Amazon gift card. 


Nominate your favorite teacher for Napleton’s Teacher of the Year Award

Each year, Napleton's Auto Park honors six teachers from Champaign Unit 4 and Urbana District 116 schools with their Teacher of the Year Award: one elementary, one middle school, and one high school teacher from each district. Each winner will receive $1000.

You can submit a nomination here, that includes writing an essay, thank you note, or poem that expresses how that teacher has made a difference in your life, or for parents, the life of your child. If a student's nomination is chosen, that student will be honored alongside the winning teacher at the Teacher of the Year ceremony in May. 

The deadline to nominate is Friday, April 19th.