Campaign to build sculpture of Roger Ebert

Sep 10, 2013

Credit Jeff Bossert / IPR/WILL
When filmgoers attend Roger Ebert’s 16th annual film festival in Champaign next spring, they’ll be able to pose with the famous Urbana native. A fundraiser campaign aims to build a life-size sculpture of Ebert, and unveil it as part of the festival in late April, outside the Virginia Theatre.  The bronze tribute to the late Urbana native and longtime Chicago Sun-Times critic places him in the middle of three theater seats, giving the trademark ‘thumbs up.’

About 125-thousand dollars is needed to build the sculpture. Bloomington artist Rick Harney says the project is inspired by his autistic son, a big fan of the film critic, and a friend he lost recently – who went some of the same health problems that Ebert did:

"She was able to rise above that.  Her appearance had been altered.  And yet she was still able to paint beautiful pictures.  And the thing that she gave to me, and I think that in the last few years of Roger’s life too… what they gave to us is kind of a lesson that – there’s an art to living, too.”

Champaign Attorney Scott Anderson is spearheading a fundraising effort that includes the cities of Champaign and Urbana, Public Art League, and University of Illinois’ College of Media.

Any money raised in excess of what’s necessary will go to Ebertfest, the Virginia Theater, and the Roger Ebert Center for Film Studies at the U of I, which is expected to start up next year. The fundraising website is