Arts Council carving out a niche

Whether you are an artist, actor, musician or simply an appreciator of the arts, the Monticello Area Arts Council (MAAC) offers something for everyone.  The organization, which recently celebrated its fifth anniversary, offers creative activities, exhibitions, performances and student scholarships to further art appreciation throughout Piatt County.

The Arts Council began in 2007 with the establishment of a steering committee.  In addition to creating the framework for the organization, the steering committee also worked with other local groups to host a national traveling Artrain exhibition.  The first large event for the young arts council was an opening reception for the Artrain exhibit in October 2007.  More than 2000 people viewed the exhibition and the Arts Council organized field trips for 900 local school children to attend. 

“Many people worked very hard in those early days,” says Belinda Beccue, a steering committee member and past MAAC President.  “Their contributions were outstanding and speaks of the incredible ‘vision’ each have had for MAAC.  We would not be where we are today without their individual talents and hard work.”

In early 2008 a Board of Directors was established and the Arts Council was holding regular meetings, even though it would be many months before MAAC had a permanent home.  

In February 2008 the City of Monticello purchased the old Lieper Furniture warehouse with the intention of creating a community center.  The Arts Council was to have a studio in the building and their vision was to create a “light, bright and creative atmosphere.”

To furnish, equip and maintain their community arts studio, MAAC held an extremely successful fundraising campaign -“Chairs for the Arts.”  Utilizing the talents of local artists, one-of-a-kind chairs were created to highlight different areas of the arts.  Each chair represented a $250 donation to MAAC and at the end of the program $7500 had been raised.

Today MAAC receives its funding from three main sources: memberships, patron donations, and workshops.  Although funds go towards administrative and workshop expenses the organization also provides scholarships and cash awards to students.  During the current fiscal year MAAC increased their scholarship awards from $250 to $750.  

The Monticello Area Arts Council offers many opportunities for community members to create or enjoy the arts.  Creative classes are offered throughout the year and children’s art classes are offered during the summer.  For those not wanting a traditional class but rather a location to work, Open Studio has been created.  Saturdays at the Studio give the community an opportunity to experience a talk, exhibition or performance and the lending library maintained by MAAC is available to anyone and features books and magazines on a variety of topics.  The organization also partners with Monticello Main Street to offer Paint the Town during Monticellobration and the Red House Gallery to host a community art exhibition.

The Arts Council is busy planning their 2013 calendar and invites suggestions from the community about what they would like the Arts Council to offer. “We would like to expand our performing arts offerings,” says current MAAC President Michele Hillard.  “The Monticello Area Arts Council strives to support all the arts – visual and performing.”

For more information about the Monticello Area Arts Council visit their website at  

The next workshop being offered by the group is gingerbread  house decorating on Saturday, December 8.  To register e-mail or call (217) 840-8739.  Pre-registration is required and there is a fee to participate.



Categories (3):News, Living, People


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