Merchandise at PechaKucha Night C-U Vol. 14 at The HighDive. Champaign, IL. Photo by Anna Longworth

Merchandise at PechaKucha Night C-U Vol. 14 at The HighDive. Champaign, IL. Photo by Anna Longworth

The sound of conversation, chit chat, PechaKucha. All of these expressions mean the same thing; however, PechaKucha has evolved into something much bigger than a simple conversation. PechaKucha started in February 2003 in Tokyo as a way for creative minds to come together and share their ideas and display their works. Over the years, PechaKucha has turned into a worldwide celebration of artistic expression. CU’s own Krannert Art Museum (KAM) and Champaign-Urbana Design Organization (CUDO) will be hosting PechaKucha Night C-U Volume 15 this Saturday night!

“20 images x 20 seconds each.” It is a simple idea that PechaKucha’s presentations revolve around. According the CUDO, these 20 x 20 presentations keep the event moving, perhaps leaving less emphasis on the presentation aspect and leaving more of a focus on presenters’ creativity and ideas. This year, presentation topics range from art and culture to comedy and storytelling.

PechaKucha has only been held in KAM twice before this. “The museum space definitely adds a unique vibe to the event because guests and presenters are literally gathered among beautiful works of art during the show,” PechaKucha Night Champaign-Urbana project manager Katie Harrell said.

Saturday night’s PechaKucha will begin at 8:20 p.m., and doors open at 7:45 p.m. There will be free admission for all guests. The nine presentations, ranging from “Art and the Zen of Stormwater Management” to “I Wanna Dance with Somebody: My Life Through Whitney Houston Songs,” have one caveat: Due to possible mature content, CUDO and the Krannert center asks that attendees be 18 years of age or older. 

Oh, and one more thing: This PechaKucha Night theme is ’80s prom, and dressing the part is encouraged. The Whitney Houston presentation seems more fitting now, doesn’t it? “The volunteer organizers always try to plan the events around a central theme, but for this volume, we’ve really outdone ourselves… Everything from the entryway to the programs will be tied to the ’80s prom theme,” Harrell said. Guests will be able to enjoy some ’80s tunes provided by DJ Wisconsin and take picture in PechaKucha Night Champaign-Urbana’s first-ever #PKNCU photo booth area. So, get ready to cut loose and get pretty in pink because this event is sure to be a full house! Phew, that’s a lot of ’80s references in one sentence. But seriously, CU’s PechaKucha is expecting a big turnout, so those wanting to get in on the totally tubular (last one!) action that tomorrow night has to offer, get there early! “After witnessing a PechaKucha Night, people are often hooked, which is why event attendance and our volunteer group has been steadily growing with each volume,” Harrell said.

Harrell believes that “nurturing creativity and coming together to celebrate one another are both vital ingredients to cultivating a healthy community. “It’s fun to be a part of an organization that does both of these things so well,” she said. However, accomplishing these goals during PechaKucha Nights in CU is no simple feat. Harrell says the all-volunteer team “runs on a shoestring budget, strong community partnerships with venues—like KAM and our sponsors—and a whole lot of passion.” Sponsors for PechaKucha C-U Volume 15 include Anna Longworth: Photography and Design, The I.D.E.A. Store, Weiskamp Screen Printing, French Paper Company, CUDO and Unisource. The volunteer team, which Harrell says make this event possible, include Irenka Carney, Leon Harrell, Karissa McDermott, David Michael Moore, Stacey Peters, Joy Rust, Eszter Sapi, Jessica Snyder, Jeremy White and Christina Wondra. 

Not everyone will have a chance to experience tomorrow night’s event, but not to worry: PechaKucha Night C-U Volume 16 is underway! It is scheduled to take place on Friday, August 8 at the Krannert Center for the Performing Arts. Those interested in presenting are encouraged to apply by visiting As few as eight and as many as 10 applicants will be selected to give a six minute and 40-second presentation on a topic that they absolutely love and, if time permitted it, be able to “chit chat” about it for hours. 

Locals can also stay connected to the creative energy by following PechaKucha on Twitter (@PechaKuchaCU) and liking its Facebook page.

PechaKucha Nights are not only big ways to connect with the community, but they allow participants—viewers and presenters, alike — to be a part of something bigger, to contribute to a larger, worldwide conversation. Harrell says that a PechaKucha Night “brings together hundreds of community members in CU by featuring 8-10 outstanding presenters from our own backyard. The presentations are inspiring; guests and presenters alike leave motivated to learn more about topics they heard and to create or share their own unique stories in the community.” These events bring communities, especially CU, closer together.“(PechaKucha) encourages collaboration—we’ve had many presenters team up with people they met after presenting, and it’s really exciting to see those partnerships happen,” Harrell said.

Everyone has a different story and a different way to tell it. PechaKucha allows these stories to be told in a safe, fun and creative way. As for tomorrow night, “Event attendees can expect another night to remember that will highlight some of the best assets Champaign-Urbana has—our amazing community members.” 

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