Posted Online: Feb. 16, 2014, 12:10 am

New Creative Arts Academy to launch in Davenport

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By Jonathan Turner,

This is the logo for the planned Creative Arts Academy of the Quad Cities.
DAVENPORT — A new Creative Arts Academy in downtown Davenport is expected to launch in the 2014-15 school year, with the help of a four-year grant of $500,000 from the Hubbell-Waterman Foundation.

The Hubbell-Waterman Foundation is a charitable trust created by Mary Hubbell Waterman and Larned Allen Waterman as a memorial to their parents. It offers grants to local organizations supporting the arts, education and social welfare in Scott and Rock Island counties.

CAA will launch this fall with programs in the visual arts and music performance, including theater, dance and communication/media arts. About 50 sixth-grade students chosen through auditions will be the first enrollees.

The students will take their core courses in math, science, language arts and social studies during half of their day at Sudlow Intermediate School, then spend half of the day at the CAA hub in downtown Davenport -- at a location to be determined -- working with artists to explore a variety of arts classes, according to Arthur Tate, Davenport Community Schools superintendent.

The CAA also will enroll 25 to 50 11th- and 12th-grade students. Selected by audition, they will take core courses and have the option to enroll in classes that may involve an arts-oriented job-shadow experience for credit or internship experiences in the arts.

To support the program, the school district also received a $160,000 two-year grant from the Riverboat Development Authority.

"It's an exciting opportunity that came out of our District of Distinction Committee," Dr. Tate said. "It was the No. 1 project that the committee considered. It's exciting, different, unique and capitalizes on a major strength we had, which is our fine arts."

This committee includes district administrators, teachers, parents, members of the business community and school board members, who met for nearly a year to identify and do research on educational programs that would best serve area students and help create a true "district of distinction."

"The development of a Creative Arts Academy In Davenport will expand and deepen access to the arts for students at an age when they've begun to identify their interests and their innate talents," said Dana Waterman, co-trustee of the Hubbell-Waterman Foundation.

"The foundation has a long-term commitment to innovation in K-12 education that will enhance student achievement and help place our young people firmly on a path of lifelong learning," he said. "Supporting education and the arts improves the quality of life in our community."

The CAA will work closely with downtown Davenport arts organizations like River Music Experience, Figge Art Museum, Bucktown Center for the Arts, Quad City Symphony Orchestra and the Adler Theatre to develop outreach programs and classes, lectures and seminars.

"When you hear about schools all around the country constantly cutting arts programs to save money, it's heartbreaking because we know that the result of that is that it's halting many children's natural artistic talents and dreams from developing," said Kate Benson, the RME's entertainment director.

"So to be a part of an arts magnet school like this is really exciting and rewarding because we are going to be able to see and prove firsthand how development in the arts can really change lives, right in our own backyard," she said.

Dr. Tate said he does not anticipate any additional fees for students, and the CAA may eventually expand beyond Davenport and to additional school grades, but not to Illinois, he said.

The district will hire some new staff for the CAA, he said, but there are many details still to work out, including which high schools will participate and specific schedules for classes.

Tim Schiffer, executive director of the Figge, said, "We think it will be a great way to give students an in-depth experience in the museum and in the studios, and we will be working with the organizers on the details when they are ready to get into specifics."

The CAA soon will launch a website, and it will distribute information on auditions in the spring.

Other groups that recently received grants from the Hubbell-Waterman Foundation included: ILLOWA Council of Boy Scouts, Living Lands & Waters, Scott County Family Y, United Way/Women's Leadership Council, Center for Active Seniors Inc., Quad City Arts, Casa Guanajuato Quad Cities, Christian Care, Dress for Success, Family Resources Inc. and the Figge Art Museum.