Thursday, December 17, 2020

Springfield dreams, Visions of 2021 and beyond

A pandemic, a civil rights uprising, economic turmoil, an historic election – this year has brought many hardships. It has made the inequalities and divisions in our society more clear. It's also been a time for reflection and change.

Social service providers and community activists, already making due with a lack of resources, have been forced to find new solutions for increasingly complex problems. Illinois Times and NPR Illinois asked various community leaders about lessons learned and hopes for the future.

Allison Lacher heads exhibitions for the University of Illinois Springfield Visual Arts Gallery. An artist herself, she's a co-founder of the DEMO project. It was an alternative art space on the Springfield Art Association campus, in an old house that was demolished in 2018.

The social component of art has been largely lost, though creativity abounds with virtual art tours and auctions, and socially distant exhibitions. Springfield has a robust arts scene, though groups often work in silos. "I keep wondering about what would happen if the visual artists in Springfield organized en masse," said Lacher.

"It's not always the artists who are carving out the structures and opportunities that we work within, or the objectives of those structures and opportunities. So what do we all need, as an arts community in Springfield? What do we prioritize? And how do we advocate for that together?" Looking ahead, Lacher envisions organization among the arts community to start answering those questions collectively.

This article appeared in the Illinois Times on December 17, 2020..