The Urbana-Champaign Independent Media Center’s mission is to foster the creation and distribution of media and art that emphasizes underrepresented voices and perspectives, and to promote empowerment and expression through media and arts education.
How We Fulfill That Mission
The UCIMC is a central hub for creative activity in East Central Illinois with a performance venue; art gallery and studios; radio station; media training facility; newspaper; Makerspace; book, zine, and instrument libraries; public-access computer center and help desk; and community data center and wireless network.
The UCIMC seeks to empower community members to come together to create art and narratives, and to implement community-based solutions to poverty and injustice. For example, residents of a chemically contaminated neighborhood used the UCIMC to organize a series of toxic tours and produce radio, video, and print pieces, including "Toxic Legacy: Douglas Park Residents in Their Own Words." This work helped alert the local city council and Illinois EPA to the problem and the site is largely cleaned up.
The UCIMC is strongly supported by and embedded in communities with little access to mainstream media and arts production avenues. The center is one of the few multicultural spaces in a city still largely divided by race and ethnicity. Using the power of art, the UCIMC bridges historic barriers to solve problems, celebrate culture, and make change in our community. For example, partnering with the Media Democracy Fund, UCIMC launched the Campaign for Prison Phone Justice to produce and distribute stories, radio pieces, and videos by and about the loved ones of those incarcerated and the communication barriers they face.
Because we are a volunteer-driven organization, all UCIMC projects grow out of shared community needs to which people are willing to commit their time and energy. Though most local music venues are bars, the UCIMC hosts an all-ages performance venue, where emerging musicians and artists can perform and display their works in an alcohol- and drug-free space. In the wake of the closure of Champaign-Urbana’s only alternative paper, the UCIMC began to publish The Public i, a free newspaper providing a forum for political commentary and news about local arts and cultural. The Public i now has over 100 authors contributing annually and distributes 3,000 copies per month.
Collaboration with area organizations is key to fulfilling our mission. The UCIMC has collaborated with the Urbana Free Library to produce teen poetry, art, and robotics events; the City of Urbana to support the Public Arts Program; Urbana Public Television to teach video production; the Champaign County Correctional Center to provide libraries stocked and staffed by UCIMC volunteers; the UP Center to provide programs for LGBTQ youth and adults; and artists such as Dr. Amira Davis to provide culturally appropriate programming to youth in Saturday School.
Step 1 - Become a member! We have many affordable options.
Step 2 - Look through our many active working groups and jump in! Reach out to the group directly (lots of contact info on their respective web page) and let them know you'd like to find out more about the group and get involved.
Don't see a working group that is quite what you're looking for? Here's the best part - START YOUR OWN! Complete this form and a member from our Board of Directors Programming Committee will follow up with you.
How We Support Our Working Groups
The UCIMC has dramatically reshaped the possible in our community. The UCIMC was instrumental in bringing $22.5 million dollars in broadband stimulus funds to our community by playing a lead role in organizing civil society participation in the grant process. By sponsoring 60 projects to date, the UCIMC has helped to provide fiscal oversight and grants administration for artists and has incubated new programs such as Tap in Academy - a relationship-centered after-school and summer enrichment program that creates communities of leaders and engaged scholars.
UCIMC promotes its programs through the radio station, newspaper, weekly public-access television program, website, social media, posters, and monthly updates to our large database of contacts. All our events are promoted through dozens of community calendars, including the mainstream media and the arts council website. Nearly all of our events are free or by donation.