Young Local Artists In The Spotlight Today At Rock Island’s Schwiebert Park
The future of the Quad-Cities arts scene will step up to the stage as young artists from throughout the area are featured in the Quad Cities Youth Music & Arts Festival from 4 to 9 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 16 at Schwiebert Park in downtown Rock Island.
The second annual event is free and features nearly 100 of the area’s most talented young artists, musicians, dancers, poets and more.
It’s also a testament to the resilience of the idea, and the desire to showcase young local talent, according to coordinator Greg Hipskind, owner/director of QC Rock Academy.
“Last year’s inaugural event was actually rained out on the original date so we had to postpone it a couple weeks to the first weekend in October,” Hipskind said. “The weather that day was a little chilly but we had a great crowd and it gave nearly 60 young musicians and artists a chance to show off their skills in front of a large crowd. This year, we hope to have better weather and we are expecting over 75 kids to be part of the event.”
How did the gig get started?
“I wanted to do an event that was larger than just our students at QC Rock Academy,” he added. “I reached out to some other arts organizations in the area to get their students involved and some individual visual artists. We will have eight of our student bands and some solo performers on stage plus the Spotlight Theatre bringing the band from their upcoming `School of Rock The Musical,’ spoken word and poetry from Midwest Writing Center, Quad Cities Music Therapy Center and more.”
The festival is a great way to support young local artists, and the price is right to try it out, he said.
“I wanted to keep this a free community event and we are able to do that thanks to the amazing sponsors of the event,” Hipskind said. “I really think people will be surprised at how much young talent we have in the area and this is a perfect opportunity for them to check them out.
“With these events that we do, my favorite part is always seeing the kid’s reactions to the applause from the crowd after their performances. It’s priceless!”
What’s it like seeing the kids blossom creatively and be a part of this?
“With an event like this and performing on such a big stage, it really lights a fire under the kids to rehearse and be ready to put on their best show,” he said. “I’m like a proud papa on the side of the stage watching them and cheering them on, knowing how much hard work they put in.
“We’ve had some students that are usually very shy but once they are on stage, they are rock stars. I’ve had parents and grandparents say to me, `I’ve never seen my kid do anything like that. We can’t get them to talk let alone sing in front of hundreds of people!’ Every show we do, a magical moment like that happens.”
Hipskind is quick to thank the sponsors of the event, for helping it come to life, and for generously donating to allow the kids the opportunity to shine.
“Putting an event like this together takes a lot of time and money and wouldn’t be possible with our sponsors,” he said. “We received a Quad City Arts Dollars grant this year and that is the main reason we can keep this a free community event. We also need to say thanks to Rock Island Parks & Recreation, Radicle Effect Brewerks, HAVlife, Vibrant Credit Union, Iowa Rock n’ Roll Music Association, I-Rock 93.5, and Common Chord.”
What are their plans for the future with it?
“We plan to keep doing this year after year and making it bigger and better each time, getting more arts organizations involved,” Hipskind said. “Maybe in a year or two it will become a full day event or possibly two days. We are also talking about doing a winter version of the festival as well.”
So, why not come out and see how much young talent the area has, bring a lawn chair and support the kids. You never know, you may be watching a future superstar, or, just watching a kid discover something wonderful about themselves and gaining confidence for the first time.