Watchdogs criticize Champaign Mental Health Board sponsorship at film fest
The Edgar County Watchdogs recently questioned the wisdom and propriety of the Champaign Mental Health Board’s continued financial sponsorship of a film at Ebertfest, a film festival founded by the late film critic Robert Ebert that takes place in Urbana-Champaign.
According to the citizen government oversight group, the mental health board has funded a film at the festival for years, having now spent $115,000 to do so over the past five years. The group reported on the expenditure and questioned whether it fit into the board’s mission last year, and the board decided – with just one "no" vote – to spend another $15,000 this year.
According to the board, the money is going toward awareness and combating stigma against mental illness, a justification the Watchdogs found thin, according to their report.
“We are confident that most would agree tax dollars taken for the purpose of providing services to the mental health of members of their community is better served with direct mental health care, not propping up the Robert Ebert's Film Festival,” Watchdogs Co-Founder Kirk Allen said. “We understand the concept of awareness and anti-stigma, however, awareness and anti-stigma programs do not provide ‘services’ to those who need it.”