ROCK ISLAND -- Partnering to improve local arts, cultural and heritage offerings leads to tangible results, 100 participants learned Wednesday at the 4th annual Experience Quad Cities Community Arts Summit.|
"We're stronger when we work together, when we coordinate our activities and events together," said Joe Taylor, president/CEO of the Quad Cities Convention and Visitors Bureau, which will soon hire the first employee for EQC, a partnership of area arts, culture and heritage organizations.
The bureau has been EQC's coordinator, employer and fiscal agent, and has staff on its 15-member advisory board.A part-time administrative assistant and special events coordinator soon will be hired for the 60-member organization.
Their work will include finding sponsors for the second annual East West Riverfest, Sept. 6-22, organized by EQC to better cooperatively market Q-C activities and attractions.
Last year's 10-day event featured more than 300 events, many which historically occurred during that period. According to a Wednesday presentation, it attracted 60,000 visitors -- the vast majority from the Q-C region -- as well as 2,400 visitors from out of town with an average two-night stay, adding $540,000 to the local economy.
"It's a perfect example of how you come together, with a very successful event, to build partnerships, to challenge yourself to think big," saidMary Cownie, director of the Iowa Department of Cultural Affairs. Like many EQC members, her work includes convincing lawmakers the arts' importance in communities.
"We're making our state stronger, ultimately more competitive," she said. "We need to brag a little more about what we're doing, how we fit into these goals and why we are a big part of economic development."
Bolstering the quality of life helps Iowa compete for business and residents, she said.Iowa's budget surplus also puts the state in a better position to fund local arts groups and projects, she said.
Q-C arts and culture get another chance to shine in Illinois' One State Together in the Arts Conference June 23-25. The statewide arts event held every two years -- most recently in Bloomington/Normal and Peoria -- features speakers and special events.
"It's an unparalleled opportunity to promote the arts in the Quad-Cities," Mr. Taylor said."We're very excited and happy to be hosting it here.It's a rare opportunity for the creative sector to come together."
Scarlett Swerdlow, of Arts Alliance Illinois, a sponsor of the event, said the Q-C partly was chosen because "we saw an incredible collaborative spirit in the arts community, evidenced by the fact that it's standing-room only in this room today.
"Having that collaborative spirit makes it possible to showcase everything in the Quad-Cities," she said.
"You're perfectly poised to support this conference," agreed Tatiana Gant, the new executive director of the Illinois Arts Council, another co-sponsor.
In another new collaboration, area arts organizations will present a series offering local artists advice on the business side of their craft. The QC Artists Coming Together (ACT) sessions, sponsored by River Music Experience, MidCoast Fine Arts, the Figge Art Museum, Quad City Arts and the Adler Theatre, are planned Feb. 9, May 4, Aug. 10 and Nov. 9. Each session, with a variety of speakers, will highlight a different element of the business side of the arts.
EQC helps members with coordinated marketing and promotion of events. The deadline for new or renewed membership this year is May 31, which also is the deadline to be in the 2013 East West Festival guide.
For more information, visit experiencequadcities.com.
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