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Quad City Arts much more than gallery

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Quad City Arts annual holiday Balloon Parade through downtown Davenport draws some of the same giant character balloons featured in Macy's Thankgiving Day Parade in New York City. The non-profit group has numerous programs supporting the arts and making them accessible to Quad-Citians of all ages and income.

Quad City Arts is much more than an art gallery in downtown Rock Island.

``Quad City Arts has a three-part focus that includes visual, performance and literary disciplines,'' Barbara Doyle-Wilch, president of the board of directors, said.

Just during January, Quad City Arts hosted a major art exhibition, two visual arts workshops, a writer's workshop, prose and poetry readings for a youth-at-risk program, a ballet performance, three Visiting Artist performances and a performance art collaboration between a musical trio and local visual artists.

The not-for-profit agency is a bi-state program advocating the growth and vitality of the fine arts and humanities within the community. It was created through the merger of three strong community arts groups in 1988.

The Quad City Arts Council, the original arts organization, has been facilitating a visual arts gallery, a regranting program and local artist performances since 1970.

The second group, the Visiting Artists Series, began in 1974, bringing art performances to elementary schools, factories, community centers and health care facilities throughout the area.

The third community art group, Festival of Trees, was developed in 1986 as a fundraiser for Visiting Artists and has evolved into a major annual community event. Today, it raises 42 percent of the operating and programming funds for Quad City Arts. It's managed by a small paid staff and a 2,000-member volunteer force.

The numerous on-going programs, events and services of Quad City Arts continue to support the organization's three major goals: to develop an educated, supportive citizenry; to integrate the arts into the community; and to create a healthy, supportive environment for the arts and humanities.

They include:

-- Access/decentralized program allows art groups and artists to apply for single, non-matching grants of up to $1,500 to plan and implement community-based projects. These projects must serve the underserved populations of Rock Island, Henry or Mercer counties, including minorities, inner-city residents, seniors, people with disabilities, rural communities and others.

-- Artsdollars supplies art groups with single matching grants of up to $2,000 to support partnerships with local artists to plan new or innovative projects of high quality and community impact.

-- Artscenter events include dance, music, literature and the visual arts presented in a series of performances and art openings every Friday at 7 p.m. September through May at the ArtsCenter.

-- Artscenter exhibition and sales offers rotating exhibits of local visual artists representing contemporary and traditional art forms. The ArtCenter Sales Area showcases the work of more than 40 local artists and craftsmen in a variety of media, such as jewelry, pottery and printmaking. ArtCenter hours are 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday.

-- Artslink/Artsguides: ArtsLink is Quad City Arts' volunteer program, which links the community and Quad City Arts. The core group of 200 volunteers provides services and assistance in all facets of events and programs. ArtsGuides offers members the chance to assist in the gallery and office.

-- Boonoonoonoos!, a Caribbean cultural festival, brings the arts of the Caribbean to the area through the Children's Village activities, reggae music, Jonkonnu dance, Jamaican storytelling and an open-air marketplace. It's offered in August along with The District's Ya Maka My Weekend.

-- Cary Grant residency program and super author in residence: Two three-day residencies held in alternating years offer intensive experience in theater and literature.

-- Festival of Trees, a 10-day November fundraiser ushering in the holidays, features beautiful displays of trees, wreaths, room vignettes, hearth and home creations, miniatures and more.

-- Metro Arts provides summertime art activities for youth-at-risk. Participants have created outdoor murals at Quad-Cities neighborhood centers as well as involving participants in two writing projects, one in poetry at the Martin Luther King Center and other in prose at the Boys and Girls Club in Moline.

-- Publications include the ``quarterly,'' Quad City Arts' calendar printed every three months, and ``arts pie,'' the monthly newsletter.

-- Speakers of the House, a series of meet-the-author readings and workshops at 7 p.m. Fridays from fall to spring, featuring writers from the Midwest and around the world.

-- St. Valentine's Day Auction, a fundraiser held in February, includes an evening of wild activities and an auction of handmade Valentines by local artists.

-- Vanguard is a membership series offered to the major contributors of the Quad City Arts Partner campaign. Qualifying partners are invited to six parties in a variety of locations hosted by businesses and individuals.

-- Visiting Artist Series brings professional artists, largely from the New York City area, to the region to participate in a cultural and edcuational community outreach program. Fifteen residences are presented throughout May.

-- Worldwide Web: Quad City Arts, along with Davenport Museum of Art, Family Museum of Arts and Sciences, Putnam Museum and Quad City Symphony, are on the Internet at

-- Workshops at the ArtsCenter provide artistic development opportunities for artists and art lovers by featuring the artists in conjunction with exhibitions of their work.

-- By Lisa Mohr (January 26, 1998)

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