This fall, Quad City Arts is celebrating its 50th Anniversary, dedicated to enriching the quality of life in the Quad City region through the arts.

Looking back at the impact, the Quad-Cities would not be the Quad-Cities without Quad City Arts.

Founded in August 1970 as Quad City Arts Council, we are a nonprofit arts organization serving a six-county area in eastern Iowa and northwestern Illinois. We are passionate about the growth and vitality of the Q-C region through the arts and for the past 50 years, have been committed to making quality arts education accessible to everyone through arts opportunities, programming, and community events.

Yuji Baba’s winning chalk art in Quad City Arts’ chalk art fest 2020.

Among hallmarks of Quad City Arts is the Visiting Artist Series, which started in 1974 – to present multi-disciplinary performing arts residencies in schools and community sites — and has brought us more than 600 artists, 424 residencies, 10,000 school visits, 400 concerts, and over 2.6 million people reached. In 2019 alone, the series impacted 24,649 K-12 students.  The Festival of Trees launched in 1986, and has served as the primary fundraiser for Quad City Arts since its inception, bringing together 3,000 volunteers each year to put on 11 days of events (including a 98-member steering committee).

The Visiting Artist Series, Festival of Trees and Quad City Arts Council officially merged into one entity in 1988.

Acting on an urban renewal opportunity in 1990, Quad City Arts began the renovation of a former department store for its offices and gallery space that became the cornerstone project in the revitalization of Rock Island’s downtown, The Arts & Entertainment District. The Quad City Arts Center Gallery has been central to the organization for 27 years offering more than 2,500 square feet of space showcasing some of the most unique artwork in the area.

This popular space is frequently used for informal musical and literary performances and for special community group meetings.

Quad City Arts has expanded its programs over the years, beginning with the annual High School Art Invitational in 1977; the Arts Dollars grant program in 1979; the Metro Arts Youth Apprenticeship program and Art at the Airport in 2000; and the Public Sculpture Program s in 2008. Chalk Art Fest started in 2017, and this year, we started taking over some of MidCoast Fine Arts programming (since that nonprofit disbanded in the spring), including Riverssance Festival of Fine Art and the High School Pastel Competition. While those did not occur this year, we do plan to continue them in 2021.

In 2019, through all its public programs (including visiting artists, concerts, exhibits, and Festival of Trees), Quad City Arts attracted a total of over 304,000 people, displayed the work of 266 artist and re-granted over $90,000 to individual artists and organizations in support of community arts projects.

“In the cultural structure of the Quad-Cities, the institutions like the Putnam, Figge and Symphony are the bricks; however, Quad City Arts is the mortar,” recent board president and longtime volunteer Chris Rayburn said. “Quad City Arts is the glue that connects the arts with the community.  It is less visible than the ‘bricks,’ but it is everywhere, and it is every bit as essential.”

For the full story, visit: https://www.quadcityarts.com/blog/quad-city-arts-celebrates-50-years-serving-the-community

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Sean Leary is an author, director, artist, musician, producer and entrepreneur who has been writing professionally since debuting at age 11 in the pages of the Comics Buyers Guide. An honors graduate of the University of Southern California masters program, he has written over 50 books including the best-sellers The Arimathean, Every Number is Lucky to Someone and We Are All Characters.