Tonight at City Center, 40 North will present its 14th annual ACE Awards, which highlight amazing contributions from different people in the different sectors of our arts community. It takes place at City Center in Champaign

You should go, because it's a really important event, and because it is the sort of thing that helps to fund programming and initiatives for our cultural community, countywide. 

Kelly White, the executive director of 40 North, and its board, do so much for us month in and month out. They are underfunded in the most dire way. With more financial assistance, they could do more, which would translate to economic impact, the expansion of our cultural arena, and that leads to tourism and indirect amenities for all of us. Now, more than ever, organizations like this one demand our support. Spending the $10 on a ticket tonight directly impacts their budget. 

So, if you are up for going, and you'd like to attend and need a ticket, please email us at info@smilepolitely.com and we will pay for the first twenty people to ask us to get in*. 

The list of winners is really something to revere. The News-Gazette, which isn't all bad even though sometimes it seems like we say that they are, ran really great profiles on each of the winners, and you should read them. I have them all linked to the name of each winner below. 

From the 40 North site, with links to the articles: 

The winners of the 2018 ACE Awards are:

Advocate ACE Award – Kelly Hieronymus, for her tremendous passion, vision, and enthusiasm, for her inspiration and encouragement of youth, local artists, and art supporters, for her role in helping create a community of artists that support and promote each other, and for utilizing her outstanding talent and creativity to embrace and advocate for the entire arts community.

Artist ACE Award – Peg Shaw, for making work that is publicly accessible yet deeply personal, work that commands a large room while engaging the individual viewer in a quiet, intimate space, for the immersive power of her work through the courageous revealing of her personal story, for evolving and developing compelling new ways to contribute to the local arts community, inspire students, support colleagues, and the people around her.

Volunteer ACE Award – Jim O’Brien, for sharing his passion for poetry and spoken word in an engaging and supportive manner, for his dedication in creating a venue for writers of all levels to gather, discuss, interact and share their voice, for enthusiastically supporting this creative community and inspiring authors to read and display their craft and connect individuals from all walks of life.

Business ACE Award – Exile on Main Street, for their tireless support of local music and art including providing a stage for festival use as well as local and touring acts and commissioning a ceiling mural, for supplying local bands with a venue to sell new releases and related merchandise, for creating an accessible and accommodating space to showcase the amazing talent in our community.

Teacher ACE Award – Brandon T. Washington, for merging his dual passions for music and education into an unrivaled ability to ignite creativity in young people, for his infectious love of music and continuous support and encouragement of those around him,  for tirelessly supplying guidance, dedication, and empowerment in assisting local youth to discover their own voice.

Student ACE Award – Natalie Wakefield, for her outstanding artistic achievements at such a young age, for her impressive humility and desire to continue to develop new techniques and discover new media, for her successful and inspirational collaborations with fellow students and the community as a whole, for her grounded attitude and enthusiastic encouragement of those around her.

Lifetime ACE Award – Dorothy Martirano, for the quality of her musicianship which is rivaled only by her qualities as a human being who cares for her community and the world at large, for her astounding accomplishments including local and national contributions, for her immeasurable ingenuity, breadth of experience, and collaborative endeavors with local and regional partners, which combined have long established her as an absolute treasure of our musical community.