IMC Poised for Big Things in Fall

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Summer in Champaign-Urbana brings a slower pace volunteer organizations, but this summer volunteers at the Urbana-Champaign Independent Media Center (IMC) have been laying the groundwork for what could end up being the most active chapter in its nearly three-year history.
On August 30th, the IMC will host IMCfest in downtown Urbana. IMCfest celebrates the IMC’s Grand Reopening and kicks off a season of major outreach and training efforts. By December, the IMC hopes to finish raising $100,000 for its Capital Campaign to purchase a building of its own. These projects are expected to bring over a thousand new people into the IMC and bring independent media and the tools to produce it out to a broader community.
The IMC was shaken by the surprise closure of its performance space in May by City of Urbana inspectors.At that time it was unclear whether or not the gallery and production areas were also in danger of closure.More than a dozen volunteers had to put in many hours of work and donate over two thousands dollars to satisfy the inspectors and receive an occupancy permit. The back room performance space remains closed but the production facilities and the Middle Room Gallery, having passed inspection,are now ready for the Grand Reopening at IMCfest on August 30th.
“Just because we don’t have a performance space doesn’t mean we can’t have shows at the IMC. There’s always the street.” That thought by IMC Shows Group members was the genesis of IMCfest 2003, the IMC’s first outdoor festival. The purpose of IMCfest will be to showcase the unique services that the IMC provides to residents of the Urbana area. The IMC is dedicated to providing the tools to produce and distribute independent media to the residents of Urbana-Champaign. Independent media may take the form of music, video, spoken audio, news reporting, visual arts, Internet media, and print. IMCfest will therefore be a multimedia event featuring presentation of these kinds of media as well as hands-on production workshops. The primary feature of IMCfest will be its main music stage. The stage will feature about ten local music groups from a variety of genres (e.g. punk, indie-rock, world, goth/industrial, jazz, blues). This main music stage will give area residents the chance to hear music in a free, all ages, non-smoking, outdoor environment that could normally only be heard in bars. In addition to the main stage, a second more intimate folk/acoustic stage will be set up with another dozen local acoustic performers.
In addition to music IMCfest will feature independent media of many other types. Authors of independently produced ‘zines will read poetry and prose from their published works, independent guerrilla films will be screened after the music is over, poetry will be read, visual art will be displayed. In the Indymedia spirit of participatory open publishing, there will be several ways in which the festival participants can get in on the action directly. Musicians from the crowd can perform a few songs on the main stage during the cabaret period in the middle of the festival. Anyone will be able to speak on any topic for 5 minutes at The Festival Soapbox. Throughout the day, IMC working groups will offer workshops on media skills at the IMC.
By the end of the festival, dozens of new volunteers will have gathered audio, video, photos, and interviews with festival participants.With this raw material, seasoned IMCstas will teach the new volunteers how to produce radio, video, and print news stories.
As this story goes to press the IMC Shows Group is still working on acquiring the appropriate permits and funding for the festival. If you would like to be involved in the planning of IMCfest please attend festival planning meetings every Thursday night at 7pm at the IMC, 218 W.Main Suite 110, Urbana. Additional details about the festival will appear at by August 15th. If you would like to get involved with the IMC Gallery effort as an artist, curator, or volunteer, please contact
The IMC’s Capital Campaign to buy a building of its own, establishing a permanent presence in our community, is in full swing. The capital campaign seeks to raise $100,000 by this December. In just a few months of active fundraising the Capital Campaign already has $37,000 in the bank (that’s up $10,000 from the last issue of this paper). An additional $20,000 has been pledged but not yet collected. IMC grant writers are working on several grants to raise additional funds.
The IMC has been able to do many things in its current rented space at 218 W. Main. The current IMC location houses an audio/video/print production facility with 5 workstations and professional audio equipment, an active art gallery with a different show each month, a radical library with over a thousand items, a consignment shop for independent media, snack sales from the common ground food coop, and a public meeting space. With these facilities the IMC has been able to produce a weekly radio show for WEFT 90.1 FM, a monthly newspaper distributed regionally, a weekly video compilation for Urbana Public Access TV, a monthly art gallery, and an ongoing open publishing website. IMC volunteers have reported on thousands of stories. Until recently the IMC’s performance space hosted an average of four all-ages non-smoking independent music concerts per week. Several local organizations use the IMC as their community meeting space.
The Capital Campaign seeks to give these successes a permanent home in the community.
All of the buildings under consideration by the campaign are significantly larger in size than the current IMC space. Purchasing such a building would allow the opening of a very large all ages music venue, the expansion of the library, better production facilities, and larger meeting spaces. A larger building would also allow the IMC to become the home of a pan-progressive resource center in our community. Capital Campaign members imagine many of the local progressive organizations and services now scattered around town, or meeting in people’s homes, all able to be headquartered in the same building. Such a building could house an artist’s coop, a food coop, a concert venue, an art gallery, a community web hosting service, the hub of the community wireless project, an expanded consignment shop for independent media and arts, coop housing for artists and activists, some local progressive businesses, environmental organizations, labor unions, political parties, a cafe, a GLBT resource center, a theater space, and general office space for other organizations. IMC members have learned over the last 3 years that given space and excited volunteers, anything is possible. Some IMC planners imagine something like a year round indoor weekly Farmer’s Market could be possible in one of the potential buildings.
Although the IMC had some, now resolved, trouble with the City of Urbana in May involving permits and code issues, many individuals from the city government and some local business owners are very supportive of the IMC’s efforts to purchase a new building and Capital Campaigners expect significant cooperation from the city in terms of getting the appropriate inspections and permits for public assembly in the new building. Local residents who are concerned about the closure of the IMC’s venue space can directly help reopen a safe all ages IMC venue space by contributing to the capital campaign.
The IMC is a 501c3 not-for-profit organization. All donations to the capital campaign are tax deductible as allowed by law. If you’d like to make an anonymous or onetime contribution to the IMC capital campaign, you can send donations by mail to:
Urbana-Champaign Independent Media Center
ATTN: Treasurer/Capital Campaign
218 W Main St, Suite 110
Urbana, IL 61801-2725
You can also make donations online by clicking on “Donate!” at The majority of the funding for the new building will come from individual members of the Urbana-Champaign community. If all of the thousands of readers of this newspaper were to donate $50 each, the IMC would well surpass its fundraising goals and be able to purchase a new building immediately.

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