Wednesday, February 25, 2015

People Like You Make It Happen

I’m often asked where the Decatur Area Arts Council gets the money to offer all of its terrific programs. The short answer is... from the generous people throughout the Decatur area... people like you.

DAAC doesn’t receive funding from the city or county or township. We are fortunate to receive
two grants each year from the Illinois Arts Council Agency for general programs and regranting that amount to approximately 5% of our annual budget.  Also, a number of our programs charge a modest fee to help keep them delivering great arts experiences to our community.  Otherwise, individual members, business sponsors, foundations, corporations, and our two annual fundraisers fuel our programs and activities.

A few recent examples of this local generosity are:
  • A donation from Susan Wade to make our free arts classes for seniors possible.
  • A gift from the Young Philanthropists Giving Circle to fund Experience: ART Field Trip scholarships.
  • A grant from Homefield Energy to allow us to offer bus scholarships to transport kids to PASS performances.
If you’re among the many folks in our the Decatur area who believe, as we do, that the arts are an important part of what makes our community special, you can help.  Any gift, large or small, will enable the Decatur Area Arts Council to fulfill our mission to increase the impact of and access to the arts and improve the quality of our city.

CLICK HERE to find out how you can help
DAAC “keep up the good work.”

Here’s a high-level approximation of where DAAC funds come from…
29% - Programs – Classes/PASS/Bus Trips
20% - Annual Support – Individual/Business/Organizations
18% - Special Fundraising Events
11% - Technical Assistance – AICP & Misc.
  7% - Gallery Revenue and Events
  6% - Other Revenue
  5% - Government Support
  4% - Endowment and Underwriting

Jerry Johnson
Executive Director
Decatur Area Arts Council

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Make • Explore • Share Your Creativity!

(This column originally appeared in the January 2015 issue of THRIVE Magazine.)

Just about all of us have our “thing.”  The thing that interests us, that we read about, devote our time to, and spend our money on.  Often it’s an activity where we work with our hands and produce something tangible like woodworking, knitting, painting, gardening, photography, beekeeping, video, robotics, or cooking.  We’re often called enthusiasts, hobbyists, or even tinkerers. 

If we’re lucky, we know people with the same passion and there’s even a club or organization for us.  Being part of a group with a common interest is the easiest way to learn new or better way to do our “thing.”  It also gives us chance to share our knowledge and creations others.

But what if you’re looking for something new or you’d like to share your “thing” with people who aren’t familiar with it?  Well, mark your calendar for an exciting new community event coming in April 2015!  

The University of Illinois Extension Office is hosting Make•Explore•Share Day on Saturday, April 11, 2015 from 10:00 a.m.-4:00 p.m. on the campus of Richland Community College.  It’s an event for people who tinker in the garage, want to get back to basics, want to see where technology can take us, or just want to learn more about new, great ideas. 

This gathering of fascinating, curious people is free for exhibitors ($1.00 for attendees).  Exhibitors must be willing to demonstrate part of their craft during the event and have a handout or web link with instructions, so participants can replicate what they see.  It’s all about sharing!  If you’d rather keep your process and ideas top secret then Make•Explore•Share Day may not be for you. In addition to demonstrating your craft, exhibitors are welcome to have items for sale on display.

To be an exhibitor, register HERE.
Deadline to apply is March 1, 2015.

For more information on Make•Explore•Share Day, call University of Illinois Extension at 217.877.6042 or email  Find them on Facebook at Make•Explore•Share.

Jerry Johnson
Executive Director
Decatur Area Arts Council

Friday, February 6, 2015

Young Artists Can See Their Work in a Real Art Gallery

As schools across the country have faced budget shortfalls in recent years, a common cost-cutting measure is to slash funding for arts education, prioritizing what are deemed more essential subjects such as math, reading, and science.

We’re really very fortunate in Decatur/Macon County that there are several organizations that sponsor visual arts competitions/exhibits for young artists.  They give students have an opportunity to display their art work in the public galleries in the Madden Arts Center, Kirkland Fine Arts Center, and Richland Community.  Some may even be exhibited in Washington DC or Japan!

Students in Decatur Public Schools can be a part of two visual arts exhibits organized each year by District #61, one for elementary students and another for middle and high school students.  This year, the Elementary School Exhibit will be May 4-8 and the Middle and High School Exhibit will be April 27-May 1, in the Madden Arts Center.  Have your child ask their teacher about this opportunity.

Gallery 510 Arts Guild sponsors several annual shows for young people.  Each January, the Young Artists’ Showcase presents the art work of 5th-8th grade students from all over Macon County in the Anne Lloyd Gallery at the Madden Arts Center.

Another Gallery 510 coordinated student competition is the Adopt-A-Pet Art Competition, co-sponsored by Decatur & Macon County Animal Shelter Foundation, and Northgate Pet Clinic.  They are currently judging the nearly 400 entries from children in kindergarten to 12th grade.  Winning artwork will be exhibited on the third floor of Madden Arts Center on March 6-11, with an award ceremony at 5:30 p.m. Friday, March 6.

Millikin University hosts the Annual A.C.E. High School Art Exhibition each November in the Perkinson Gallery of the Kirkland Fine Arts Center.

There are several art competitions that your young artist still has time to enter.

Decatur Sister City organization in sponsoring the Tokorozawa Art Drawing Contest.  It is open to elementary and middle school kids.  Ten drawings will be selected to be display in the Tokorosawa Japan City Hall at the annual Tokorosawa International Friendship Exchange Forum from March 10-15, 2015.  There is no specific theme for entries but hurry because the deadline is February 10, 2015.  If you have questions, email Maki Ostrnader at

The Office of Congressman Rodney Davis coordinates the annual Congressional Art Competition for high school students in the congressional district.  Schools are invited to submit the two-dimensional art work of their students for exhibit in the Springer Cultural Center in Champaign, IL.  The Best-of-Show artwork will go on to hang in the Capitol Building in Washington DC for the entire year.  If your school would like to participate, contact Congressman Davis’ office for a Registration Form.  The submission deadline is March 6, 2015. Call Jennifer White at 217-403-4690 or email

Another exhibit coordinated by Gallery 510 is the Arts in Education Spring Exhibit.  It promotes area art programs in the schools at the junior and senior high school level.  Teachers use this opportunity to have the students not only enter the show but help hang the artwork.  The exhibit will hang in Madden Arts Center, 3rd floor Gallery from March 31-April 10, 2015.  The submission deadline is April 1, 2015.  For more information, call Gallery 510 at 217-422-1509 or email

If you have a budding young artist who yearns to see their art work hanging in a genuine gallery and not just on the bulletin board in their class room, find out more about these terrific opportunities.

Jerry Johnson
Executive Director
Decatur Area Arts Council