The end of the year gives us an opportunity to update each other, learn and renew. As the pandemic makes us learn new ways, we have seen the need to focus on our interdependence, sharing and reconnection. Here are a handful of updates in text and a slideshow of 2022 in pictures.
In January, we hired Vacellia Clark to lead the UCIMC Incubator, a grants initiative created in collaboration with Illinois State Representative Carol Ammons.
The UCIMC Incubator supports emerging minority-led nonprofits
with the goal of serving families impacted by gun violence.
We onboarded seven organizations and all of them are now non-profits in good standing. They are The Well Experience, Wayne McClain Pipeline Foundation, Radical Thought Collective, We Love the Kids, Business Elevator, Trauma Survivors Heal 2, and BIPOC for Better Birth. They have completed leadership and digital marketing training modules, and will move on to final training sessions in grant-writing and financial management.
Our newspaper, the Public i, has been instrumental in covering many stories of the moment. The UCIMC’s newspaper, the Public i began covering the case of Shamar Betts and has continued to publish about his case for the past two years as it winds through the courts. In 2020, local 19-year old Shamar Betts was arrested and charged with “inciting a riot” after he made a facebook post calling people to meet at a local mall to protest the death of George Floyd.
Public i articles have helped spark conversation about the role
of protest in American society and have helped sustain support for
Shamar while he navigates the isolating experience of federal prison.
In the fall, the Public i printed a statement by Shamar himself. You can read it on the Public i’s website at publici.ucimc.org.
We know online activism makes the most impact when we also build community in person. Our venue has subsidized space for community events worth more than $5,000 in 2022:
- “Near and Far: Interpretations by Immigrant Artists” - a gallery show with seven painters, potters and photographers of all ages
- Urbana High School Mixed Media Arts Showcase (UMASS) - a youth-organized festival featuring dance, film, art, and music.
- Queertango workshops - biweekly workshops inviting community members to explore tango without presumed gender roles
Affordable space was something local theater-makers Diana Pritchard and John Tilford were looking for after the community theater space they were using shut down. While their volunteer-led theater troupe was unable to purchase their own space, they had some funds and came to us wondering if our stage could be renovated and used for more plays. With the help of the U of I Theater Department, we renovated the stage with backstage ramp access, reinforced and re-surfaced main stage, and skirting around the edge.
Growing staff has been key to sustaining a healthy work environment. We’ve had the joy of bringing on part-time venue coordinator DJBJ Clark, the esteemed host of WRFU’s The After Work Drive Show.
Few can equal DJBJ’s enthusiastic welcome for all visitors to the IMC.
DJBJ brings extra care and attention to our venue, ensuring that the space is ready for community events, scheduling private events, and making everyone feel welcome.
I look forward to building with you in 2023 and I hope you’ll reach out to reconnect.
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