The Rockford Area Arts Council, in partnership with the Rockford Public Library and the City of Rockford, is establishing a Poet Laureate and Youth Poet Laureate. In collaboration with the City and the Library, the Arts Council will provide our residents with the opportunity to nominate and apply for this celebrated role in our community.
A City Poet Laureate is an honorary position; Poets Laureate promote literacy and literature among residents of all ages. The Arts Council and the Rockford Public Library are developing programming, and complimentary resources, to provide the recipient with opportunities to promote their personal work, host workshops for residents, and appear at important City events. The official honor of Poet Laureate is awarded for a period of two years and is a grant-funded position.
Poet Laureate requirements are the following: poet must be a resident of the City of Rockford area for no less than one year. Poet must be 18 years of age for the Poet Laureate award and between 13-17 for the Youth Laureate award. Poet must have demonstrated previous commitment to poetry and have significant publication history. The Poet Laureate Committee is established with representatives from the Arts Council, City of Rockford, Rockford Public Library, and members of the city’s arts and literary community.
Rockford Area Arts Council Executive Director, Mary McNamara Bernsten, says “A Rockford Poet Laureate is another opportunity for the arts community to celebrate its many faces. Art is a reflection of society and poets have a unique platform; their words are their paintbrush, their instrument, their voice. The Arts Council is delighted to work with the Library and the City in the development of this celebrated role.”
“It’s with the greatest enthusiasm that Rockford Public Library supports this opportunity to celebrate this art form locally. Throughout history, great poets have inspired communities with shared ideas and well-crafted prose. It is with this understanding that we proudly support the Rockford Area Arts Council in choosing a Poet Laureate to represent the City of Rockford.” Lynn Stainbrook, Director, Rockford Public Library.
“Literacy and literature is a vital part of our social fabric and can help make us stronger as a community,” says Mayor Tom McNamara. “I’m excited to help establish both an adult and youth Poet Laureate in Rockford and know they will have a profound impact on all of us.”
“Being Poet Laureate made me realize I was capable of a larger voice. There is a more public utterance I can make as a poet.” –Rita Dove, former Poet Laureate and first African American Poet Laureate
Hello members and friends,
The Rockford Area Arts Council appreciates your patience and understanding during this difficult time. We know artists are coming out of a difficult winter and we want to be a resource for your businesses, galleries, and production of work. The Arts Council’s mission is to support and promote the arts and artists—so you can imagine we were disappointed when we were advised to shut-down Spring ArtScene. We are working hard, on your behalf, to explore alternatives to promote local artists.
The Rockford Area Arts Council is following and supporting guidelines and recommendations made by the Center for Disease Control (CDC), Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH), Winnebago County Health Department (WCHD) and the City of Rockford, and will continue to do so until this health emergency is effectively addressed. When we receive encouraging, legitimate information that community events can safely resume, the Arts Council will promptly reschedule ArtScene at no cost to the artists/venues. Our rescheduled ArtScene will not include a printed brochure, however, we will provide on-line venue listings/links, access to the downtown trolley, and bolstered advertising on our social media outlets. We will do everything we can to make it a successful event for our artists and local businesses!
In the meantime, we would like to share with you some of the projects the Arts Council will be working on:
Logo and website development
Summer programming, adjustments made accordingly
Artist/member database development
Legislative plans for our community arts organizations to advocate with critical mass
Social media strategy
Poets Laureate for City of Rockford
As artists, we can provide compassion at this time and recognize that everyone is doing their best to navigate the uncharted territory of COVID-19. Please reach out to the Arts Council directly with your questions and concerns.
Mary McNamara Bernsten
Executive Director, Rockford Area Arts Council
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Lynn Schmitt of A Different Box of Crayons 1:00 pm