ACE Awards


The ACE (arts, culture and education) Awards are presented annually by 40 North | 88 West to honor the work of artists, teachers, businesses, individuals, organizations, volunteers, community and government leaders. All seven ACE Award winners embody the spirit of the local arts community with their passion, energy, and dedication to the creative culture of Champaign County. 

CLICK HERE to see photos from the 2018 ACE Awards Celebration!

The winners of the 2018 ACE Awards are:

Advocate ACE AwardKelly Hieronymus, for her tremendous passion, vision, and enthusiasm, for her inspiration and encouragement of youth, local artists, and art supporters, for her role in helping create a community of artists that support and promote each other, and for utilizing her outstanding talent and creativity to embrace and advocate for the entire arts community.

Artist ACE AwardPeg Shaw, for making work that is publicly accessible yet deeply personal, work that commands a large room while engaging the individual viewer in a quiet, intimate space, for the immersive power of her work through the courageous revealing of her personal story, for evolving and developing compelling new ways to contribute to the local arts community, inspire students, support colleagues, and the people around her.

Volunteer ACE AwardJim O’Brien, for sharing his passion for poetry and spoken word in an engaging and supportive manner, for his dedication in creating a venue for writers of all levels to gather, discuss, interact and share their voice, for enthusiastically supporting this creative community and inspiring authors to read and display their craft and connect individuals from all walks of life.

Business ACE AwardExile on Main Street, for their tireless support of local music and art including providing a stage for festival use as well as local and touring acts and commissioning a ceiling mural, for supplying local bands with a venue to sell new releases and related merchandise, for creating an accessible and accommodating space to showcase the amazing talent in our community.

Teacher ACE AwardBrandon T. Washington, for merging his dual passions for music and education into an unrivaled ability to ignite creativity in young people, for his infectious love of music and continuous support and encouragement of those around him,  for tirelessly supplying guidance, dedication, and empowerment in assisting local youth to discover their own voice. 

Student ACE AwardNatalie Wakefield, for her outstanding artistic achievements at such a young age, for her impressive humility and desire to continue to develop new techniques and discover new media, for her successful and inspirational collaborations with fellow students and the community as a whole, for her grounded attitude and enthusiastic encouragement of those around her.

Lifetime ACE AwardDorothy Martirano, for the quality of her musicianship which is rivaled only by her qualities as a human being who cares for her community and the world at large, for her astounding accomplishments including local and national contributions, for her immeasurable ingenuity, breadth of experience, and collaborative endeavors with local and regional partners, which combined have long established her as an absolute treasure of our musical community.  

The winners were chosen from over 95 public nominations by an independent panel of community-based judges.

The seven ACE Award categories are: Advocate, Artist, Volunteer, Business, Teacher, Student, and Lifetime Achievement. Nominations are reviewed by an independent panel of community-based judges representing a broad cross-section of Champaign County. Anyone can submit a nomination for an ACE Award. You may nominate multiple candidates and self-nominations are accepted. Must be 14 years or older and a resident of Champaign County to be eligible to win an ACE Award. Previous nominees may be resubmitted.