May 13th, 2003

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Last Night's Speech

Councilmembers and Mayor Satterthwaite, thank you for this time. I am going to speak briefly today about the Urbana-Champaign Independent Media Center, the IMC, but I want to be sure you know that I am speaking as a concerned resident of Urbana and NOT as a representative of the IMC.

The IMC's performance venue is a vital part of the downtown Urbana economic ecology. The IMC brings hundreds of people each week into downtown Urbana to produce media, view art, meet with other community members, and to hear a wide range of diverse music. Folks who visit downtown Urbana to come to the IMC may also do business at Strawberry Fields, The Office, Piccadilly, County Market, Courier Cafe, Busey Bank, The Embassy, Record Swap, The Iron Post, or other downtown businesses. I personally know at least half a dozen people who have moved into our community because of the IMC. I know many more, including myself, who have chosen to stay here after college because of the IMC. I am a property tax payer in Urbana entirely because of the inspiration of the IMC project.

The IMC performance space hosts music concerts from local and touring musicians from many different genres from folk to rock to jazz to experimental. The IMC performance space is a safe and educational space for kids who are not old enough to go to bars to spend their weekend evenings.

Local artists and musicians value the IMC. Local community members value the IMC. Local businesses value the IMC.

Last Thursday, the IMC performance space was shut down by Urbana city officials for as yet unenumerated code violations. After a frustrating initial communications breakdown, the IMC is now engaged in productive dialog with the City on how it can understand and resolve the issues. I look forward to moving forward with that process. I want to thank the city staff that have been cooperative and helpful with the IMC. I look forward to reading the reports that will be made available to the IMC on Tuesday. I know that the IMC is committed to ensuring the safety of it's patrons and visitors and that our large pool of volunteers will work together to do what needs to be done to take care of code issues that we are now being made aware of.

The community commitment to the IMC has been repeatedly shown through our well attended shows, our highly successful ongoing fundraising efforts, and finally through the outpouring of emails that I have receieved from people offering to pitch in to help get the IMC up to code and back in action.

While in the short term we may be forced to cancel some performances and relocate other performances to alternate venues, the only long term solution to the current situation that will truly serve the citizens of Urbana in the way that the IMC has for the last year is to have an IMC venue space in downtown Urbana. I entreat the council, mayor, and staff of the City of Urbana to continue to help us in whatever ways you can to continue to maintain the IMC performance space as a valuable resource for downtown Urbana. We all have the same goal of making Urbana an ever better place to live.

Thank you for your time.
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