Champaign Co. (ECWd) -
Once again, the Champaign Mental Health Board has voted to approve Mental Health funds for Robert Ebert's Film Festival. Although this year they tried to categorize the expenditure as an anti-stigma event, the fact remains the funds are for a sponsorship of a movie at Robert Ebert's Film Festival. We exposed their spending of $100,000.00 of Mental Health tax money on this program last year in this article.
Although there was a good discussion on the matter, it was clear there was a concern with board members as to the value of spending money on a film versus spending money on those who truly need it.
The justification for spending $15,000.00 on a movie sponsorship appeared to be more about the fact they have done it for many years rather than does it really help anyone for real Mental Health matters.
One person can be heard insinuating that there are others who do not believe this is a legitimate activity for a Mental Health Board.
Based on the conversation during the meeting, it sounds like others were questioning the expenditure but not as a matter of whether it was a legitimate activity but more as to whether or not it is the best use of Mental Health Funds required to be used for services of those in need, not movies to bring awareness to the public about those in need.
A board member can be heard claiming past spending on Ebert Fest has been a big success as part of his justification, all while another speaker appears to disprove such a claim.
"We might not have a way to measure it, about the impact of Ebert Fest, this is not biology calculus or algebra, this is a Social Science we are talking about. It's not always measurable."
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 Healthcare, not propping up the Robert Ebert's Film Festival as part of a Social Science experiment that by their own admission has no means of measuring its success.
This years allocation of $15,000.00 to Eber Fest brings their 5-year running total to $115,000.00
The board discussion begins at the 1:01:25 mark of the audio. Although a very interesting discussion, the one lone "NO" vote raised the awareness as to the most important question that no one has answered since our first writing about this last year.
If the mission is to provide services for the prevention and treatment of mental or emotional, developmental and substance abuse disorders, we must ask, what “service” is the Ebertfest providing to those people in need?