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“Callbacks” offers nostalgia for a cause

Centennial's drama director Sue Aldridge has been an inspiration to thousands of local high school students over the decades, but she's decided to take a final bow and exit, stage left.

Before she retires, however, she's holding one last benefit concert and "calling back" alumni -- over 200 students -- for a night of reminiscing and rememberance.

This Sunday, May 28th, at either 2 p.m. or 7 p.m., a $10 ticket will get you almost 3 hours of entertainment. Monologues, dance routines, scenes from shows Ms. Aldridge has directed will all be performed by her former students and current drama students.

Since this is a benefit for the Aldridge family's foundation, Clif Rocks!, there's a chance to donate more when you purchase your ticket. The foundation is named after Sue's son, Clif, who died from cancer back in 2010. Clif Rocks! seeks to provide scholarships to 2 CHS students or ISU students who are battling cancer and need financial support. They hope to raise in the area of $20,000 this weekend, so they can reach an endowment goal of $100,000 to ensure a long future for the scholarship program.

Chances are you know someone in the show, or who has been touched by Ms. Aldridge's influence. Come out, hear a song, see a dance, and make a better future. 


The Art Theater ownership approves merger, will become charitable non-profit

After announcing that the Art Theater would attempt to merge with the Art Film Foundation, they've announced that it has been approved at a very high clip by ownership.

From the press release:

Champaign, IL – May 24, 2017 – After a twenty-day voting period, the cooperative owners of the Art Theater have approved a merger with the Art Film Foundation (AFF). Owners overwhelming approved the merger, with 97% of the voting ownership pool approving.

The merger will dissolve cooperative ownership, bringing the Art into the fold of the AFF and conferring onto the Theater tax-exempt charitable status. The Art’s programming, staff, membership program, and daily operations will remain unchanged, but it will now be legally capable of soliciting tax-deductible funding from individuals, businesses, local and state foundations, and national non-profit arts funding organizations.

“The Board and I are very excited for the merger,” says Austin McCann, the Theater’s General Manager. “The Art has always found innovative ways to remain vital the Champaign-Urbana community. I’m very thankful for the owner’s support for the merger and their dedication to the positive transformations that make the Art such a crucial cultural space.”

The Art Film Foundation (AFF) is a Champaign-based 501(c) 3) tax-exempt charity founded in 2015 whose mission is to promote culture and education through film and cinema. Post-merger, the current Art Theater Board of Directors will be appointed to the Board of the AFF. “Merging the two Board’s together ensures stable leadership during the transition and provides a continued focus on incorporating community voices into the leadership of the Theater” says Leigh Estabrook, the current President of the Art Theater Board of Directors.

“I’ve been involved with the Art Theater for six years, and one of the most notable things about the Art and its supporters is its willingness to embrace change for the better,” says Alicia Kozma, an Art Theater Board Member. “The most consistent response we’ve had from cooperative owners regarding the transition discussion is their willingness to put the collective interest of the Theater over individual ones. The Art is certainly what it is today due to the dedication of the community that supports it.”

While the Art has made initial inroads in raising donations—most notably through the Kickstarter project to repair the marquee, its membership program, and the Smart Kids summer programming series—the move to 501(c)(3) status opens many funding venues previously closed to the Theater. McCann notes, “The ability to fundraise tax-deductible donation and grants gives the Theater a whole new set of opportunities to move into the future in really new and exciting ways.”

The following individuals are available for interviews: Leigh Estabrook, Art Theater Board President (; Alicia Kozma, Art Theater Board Member ( 


Leigh Estabrook, President

The Art Theater Co-op

126 W. Church Street

Champaign, IL




PechaKucha Night C-U, Vol. 24 announces speaker lineup

Back in April, PechaKucha Night Champaign-Urbana announced their 24th volume, taking place on June 10th at Krannert Center. They have now provided info about the speakers that will be participating.

From the press release: 

Join us Saturday, June 10th at Krannert Center for the Performing Arts for another compelling evening of idea sharing and storytelling!

First devised by a pair of Tokyo architects in 2003, PechaKucha Nights have become international phenomena that use a simple concept to create big community exchanges. Presenters have 20 images and 20 seconds per image to share their ideas, works, and passions for a total of 6 minutes and 40 seconds flat.

Saturday, June 10, 2017
Krannert Center for the Performing Arts
Doors open at 7:45 pm, show at 8:20 pm
Admission: FREE!
Music by DJ Mertz
Possible Mature Content, 18+ recommended

Get ready for nine thought-provoking presentations:
Mandy Danowitz | Use as Directed
Jared Fritz | Wedding Toast for Dummies
Sanford Hess | The CU Hack Night Needs YOU
Dave Hensleigh | Walk Across Juarez
Meagan Glaser | Food History: Recreated and Reheated
Paul Min | You Cray Cray, Said My Dad.
Tim Montague | Why Solar Power is Going to Explode in Illinois
Mallory Morris | One People’s Summer Arts Camp!
Kristina Reese | This is Your Brain on Meditation

...and starring William Anthony Sebastian Rose II as our emcee for the night!

Let your friends know you are coming by RSVPing on Facebook!

For additional info, or if interested in presenting at a future PechaKucha Night Champaign-Urbana, visit

Check out the global website to get a sense of the magnitude of the event as well as our city page,

Follow us on Twitter: @pechakuchaCU
Become a fan on Facebook:
For more information about CUDO visit

Photo from their newsletter.


Two-part event and fundraiser being held in memory of Matthew Farrell

On Saturday June 10th, the community will be gathering to celebrate the life and legacy of Matthew Farrell, a supporter of the Arts, Education, and C-U community. A two-part event and fundraiser will take place to continue to support the causes that meant so much to him, and to celebrate with those who were brought together through his passions.  

Read on for more information on the events, and how you can donate to the cause:

In memory of our dear friend, Matthew C. Farrell, who was a long time supporter of the Arts, Education, and the Champaign-Urbana community, a two part event has been organized to take place June 10th, 2017.

There will be a family-friendly gathering at Blair Park (1406 S. Broadway) in Urbana, from 2PM-4PM. with a 3PM unveiling of a permanent memorial within the park. Please join us to reunite, share memories, and celebrate Matt and the park he loved.

The evening event will take place at Sipyard (204 W. Main) from 6PM-10PM.  DJ Belly (Kevin Miller) will be spinning tunes throughout the night that pay tribute to all the music that Matt loved. At this time, we will be raising funds for The Matthew C. Farrell Memorial Fund via $1 proceeds from each drink purchased during the event and proceeds from a silent auction.  In addition, there will be an ipad setup for those who wish to donate any amount, large or small, to the the Memorial fund directly.

The Matthew C. Farrell Memorial Fund is a scholarship in Matt’s name that’s mission is to give a graduating UHS student who plans to study the Arts, a full ride to Parkland College. The scholarship will be further supported outside of this fundraiser and online donations by way of an annual 5k in Urbana set to take place the first weekend of June 2018.

The scholarship was inspired by Matt’s love for the Urbana-Champaign community and his experiences within the community, including his Art Education at Parkland, which proved to be a pivotal experience for him.  Moreover, he had a passion for running and strived daily to live a healthier lifestyle.  He brought people together through his interests and will continue to do so for years to come. 

A special thanks to the Urbana Park District for appreciating the importance of this memorial and taking special steps to ensure its timely placement. Also, thank you to Matt Cho of Sipyard and Sipyard Staff for contributing their time, space, and a generous donation from the evening’s bar earnings.

We hope to see as many people as possible at either or both of the day’s events.  Spread the word by mouth, email, social media, etc.

THANK YOU in advance to all who plan to attend and support the legacy of an amazing artist, brother, and friend to many.

Here are links to the Facebook event page as well as the Memorial Fund website.


Community Wellness Spring Fling fair happening May 22nd

Celebrate the end of school and warmer days with this year's Community Resource Fair on May 22nd. The Wellness Spring Fling fair joins the CommUnity Matters and public health resources, to bring wellness and health information to the whole family. 

Events include free food, games, giveaways, and tons of useful information on family health, sustainability, recycling, and overall wellness.

Check out the flyer below for more info:


PSA: You can recycle your styrofoam at Dart Corp for free

I try everyday to be more aware of what I'm throwing away and more importantly, where I'm throwing the garbage away. It's easy to recycle paper and plastic, but not so easy for other things, like styrofoam. I've always thought styrofoam to be a product that you couldn't recycle and was destined to be in a land fill. Turns out, that's not the case. 

The Keep Champaign Beautiful Facebook page is promoting an easy (and free!) way to recycle that annoying styrofoam that we can never seem to get rid of. Now we have no reason or excuse to throw away our styrofoam!

Check out the graphic and instructions below on how to recycle your styrofoam:

Dart Corporation (formerly SoloCup)
1505 E Main St., Urbana

(Go east to Lierman Ave - use the 'Shipping Dept.' entrance)

  • Make sure foam has the #6 chasing arrow on it
  • Only CLEAN (rinsed and wiped) food/beverage or block foam accepted (no packaging peanuts)
  • Remove straws, lids, tape or any other non-foam material
  • Deposit foam into clear translucent bags provided onsite, tie securely, and place bag in wheel cart

Treat yourself & the Special Olympics

On this miserable morning, the U of I campus police force are out collecting donations for the Special Olympics. Depending on how much ca$h you put in their cups, they'll gift you with a free donut, car wash, or an insulated cup with a free drink ($20 gets you all three). 

Generally, this fundraiser features an officer on the roof, but I'm thinking the rain made it unsafe.

This photo was taken at Neil & Randolph, but you can also donate at the Prospect location or on Uni Ave near Race St. Or Rantoul if you're out that way.

Get out before noon and help make the Special Olympics spectacular.


For real though: Who serves the best Old Fashioned in C-U?

Let's clear the air here, shall we? This article that Merry published with us earlier this week was not a BEST list of Old Fashioneds in Champaign-Urbana. Four drinks is not comprehensive, and the wording we put out there might've been a bit confusing. But the "search" for the best is something we're always after, right? Right?

I mean, who doesn't want the best? I want the best, typically.

But I digress.

This discussion has us seriously wondering — where IS the best Old Fashioned in Champaign-Urbana served? This is one I had yesterday, served to me by the one and only Matthew "Fu" Kucera at Bentley's Pub. Damn good. Lots of ice, so a little different than an Old Fashioned I've consumed before, but good nonetheless.

Is it Miga? bacaro? Big Grove? Bentley's? Barrelhouse 34? Timpone's? Hamilton Walker's? Quality? Obviously I cannot name all the bars and restaurants in town — so maybe you can help.

I very much appreciate the discussion on our Facebook page: