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Thursday, June 3, 2004 01:03 pm

The center of Illinois art

Now named after the family that nurtured Family Video stores to nationwide prominence, the former Masonic Temple began its new life on Dec. 31, 2003, as the city’s premier arts venue. As home base for more than 15 arts organizations, with four performance sites, two art galleries, and meeting space galore, the Hoogland Center is a magnet for practitioners and supporters of the arts. In the confluence of variety, one hand washes the other. For example, the Prairie Art Alliance’s H.D. Smith Gallery is often open extra hours so that theatergoers may spend time savoring its exhibitions before the curtain goes up. Hoogland is also home to the Springfield Area Arts Council, a nexus of information for artists of all stripes. Organizations of all types have found it an ideal meeting place thanks to its location, proximity to arts venues, and helpful staff. Hoogland’s Web site provides an updated calendar of events and links to other area arts organizations. Springfield Hoogland Center for the Arts, 420 S. Sixth St., 217-523- 2787,

Since opening in 1981 on what is today the campus of the University of Illinois at Springfield, Sangamon Auditorium has hosted more than 2,000 events, including conferences, debates, major concerts, plays, and musical shows. Among the legends who have performed at the 2,018-seat facility: Willie Nelson, Ray Charles, Hal Holbrook, and Four Bitchin’ Babes.
To get to Sangamon Auditorium from Interstate 55, take exit 94 onto Stevenson Drive; proceed to the intersection of Stevenson and Taylor Avenue/West Lake Drive; go south on West Lake, which becomes Shepherd Road; turn right at the campus entrance, and follow the signs. For ticket information, call 217-206-6160 or 800-207-6960 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Monday-Friday or visit
Here are some other places for arts and entertainment:
THEATER: Springfield Theatre Center, Hoogland Center for the Arts, 420 S. Sixth St., 217-523-2787,
MUSICAL THEATER: Springfield Municipal Opera Association, also known as the Muni, 815 East Lake Dr. For ticket information, call 217-793- 6864 or visit
REGIONAL: Theatre in the Park at Lincoln’s New Salem Historic Site, on Highway 97 two miles south of Petersburg, 217-632-5440 or 800-710-9290,
BALLET: The Springfield Ballet Company performs at Sangamon Auditorium. For tickets, call 217-206-6160;
SYMPHONY: The Illinois Symphony Orchestra, led by music director/conductor Karen Lynne Deal (performs at Sangamon Auditorium), 524 E. Capitol Ave. For tickets, call 217-206-6160; for all other info, call 217-522-2838;
FINE ARTS: Springfield Art Association (see “Edwards Place” under Springfield attractions), 700 N. Fourth St., 217-523-2631,
COMEDY: Funny Bone Comedy Club, 2837 White Oaks Dr., 217-391-5653,

MOVIES: Springfield has five motion-picture theaters. Four are operated by the same company, Kerasotes Theatres: White Oaks Cinema, ShowPlace West, ShowPlace East, and Parkway Pointe. White Oaks Cinema, located at White Oaks Mall, shows second-run films. Art films are shown at Parkway Pointe. The Route 66 Drive Inn is located on Springfield’s southern periphery, off Route 4. For current listings, see and, or check current listings each week in Illinois Times.