Annual ACE Awards to fete area's cultural life at new venue

Annual ACE Awards to fete area's cultural life at new venue

CHAMPAIGN – The fourth annual ACE (Arts, Culture and Entertainment) Awards ceremony will take place starting at 5:30 p.m. Thursday at the Highdive, 51 E. Main St., C.

The awards recognize and celebrate outstanding contributions to the cultural life of Champaign County. A panel of independent judges representing a cross- section of the community selected seven winners for 2008; they will be announced and the awards given out at the ACE Awards ceremony.

Tickets are $20 each and may be purchased online at and at the door. Discounts are available for groups. For information or to buy tickets, call 351-9841.

For 2008, the ACE Awards event has grown in size, offering a first-ever "after party" following the ceremony. Guests will be treated to complimentary tapas by English Hedgerow and a free mojito bar by Bacardi. Live music will be provided by the University of Illinois Latin Jazz Ensemble (Tito Carrillo, director), with a salsa dance lesson by salsa dancers from Dance 2XS Caliente.

A multimedia presentation, sponsored by WAND-TV and Psymbolic Visual Communications, will feature brief profiles of the ACE Award winners.

"The ACE Awards have always been about celebrating the arts in Champaign County, so we decided to take it up a notch this year," Megan Wolf, 40 North director of resource development, said in a news release.

"The ACE Awards after party will give everyone the time to hang around afterwards, groove to some great music and congratulate the award winners."

The seven ACE Award categories are education, media, advocacy, spotlight, creative community service, business and lifetime achievement. Each winner will receive an ACE, a sculptural piece designed by Champaign native Andy Warfel and crafted in polished clear acrylic and digitally routed aluminum plate by ID3 of Atlanta, Ga. The awards also feature hand-hewn finishing by sculptor Jose Marquez of ID3.

The title sponsors for the fourth annual ACE Awards are Busey Bank, The Buzz and WAND-TV.

The ACE Awards ceremony is taking place during national and Illinois Arts and Humanities Month, a celebration of culture in America. Coordinated by Americans for the Arts nationally and the Illinois Arts Council statewide, it is the largest annual celebration of the arts and humanities in the nation.

For more information, visit online iac/AHMonth/ah/includes/intro.htm.