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ArtStroll Marks New Beginning for Presenters Group PDF Print E-mail
News/Features - Feature Stories
Tuesday, 29 July 2003 18:00
One of the big changes to this year’s ArtStroll event this Friday will be something those in attendance probably won’t notice. But the emergence of a performing-arts coalition as one of ArtStroll’s organizers signals a new commitment to help the arts grow in the Quad Cities.

ArtStroll is scheduled for 5 to 10 p.m. on Second Street in downtown Davenport, going from Harrison Street on the west to Pershing Avenue on the east. The event gives the public an opportunity to see a sampling of the variety and number of arts organizations in the Quad Cities. And arts groups have a prime opportunity to expose new audiences to what their organizations do. Three stages will showcase diverse performing-arts organizations, from literary readings to opera to theatre to jazz. (See schedule.)

While MidCoast Fine Arts has coordinated ArtStroll and its performance schedule for the event’s first three years, this year the Quad Cities Presenters group has been in charge of the stage entertainment.

And even though the Presenters have been around for more than a decade, ArtStroll marks a new beginning for the organization. The group was incorporated as a not-for-profit organization in late spring and is in the process of establishing its bylaws and mission statement. It is envisioned as a vehicle to support performing-arts organizations, particularly in the areas of audience development, fundraising, local advocacy, professional development, and marketing.

Quad Cities Presenters has been around for more than 10 years, said Don Wooten, who spearheads the group. But the organization has been “very loosely organized until this point,” said Lance Willett, executive director of the Quad City Symphony Orchestra and board secretary for the Presenters.

The three dozen or so participating organizations – from Genesius Guild to New Ground Theatre to the symphony to the City Opera Company – faced a choice recently: dissolve or move forward in a more formal manner. The decision to incorporate promises a more active group, although it’s too early to say exactly what it will do.

Willett said the group is now writing bylaws, and that a third party will be conducting a needs assessment soon. When asked what the group would do, Wooten said, “We’re not sure yet.”

“It’s in a very early stage of development,” Willett said. But “it’s really important that some structure exist in which organizations can meet each other and work toward a common good.” Willett said that the group will encompass organizations with annual budgets from $2,000 to $1.7 million: “It’s going to be very diverse.”

Wooten described the Presenters group as a “congress of arts organizations” that “pretty much operates like a legislature. … The arts organizations pretty much determine their own fates.”

In the past, the Presenters have purchased full-page ads in local newspapers to publicize its members, particularly those with little or no marketing money. “We served needs when needs were there,” Wooten said.

In terms of its general goal, the Presenters group is a good fit with the ArtStroll showcase and the Midwest Arts Mecca joint-marketing initiative. All are working toward increasing awareness of the rich local arts scene and, as a result, building audiences.

In addition to performances and presentations, more than three dozen visual artists will be showcasing their work on Second Street. ArtStroll will also feature a silent auction of more than 30 banners painted by local artists and hanging in downtown Davenport. Dance instructors and jugglers will be strolling the grounds and entertaining the crowd. Visitors will also have the opportunity to learn about the River Music Experience museum and the Figger Arts Center, and to tour public-art sites.

MidCoast Fine Arts has seen the even grow from attendance of 2,000 three years ago to roughly 6,000 last year, said Dean Schroeder, Midcoast’s executive director. “We’d love to see the event grow … to be in the neighborhood of 15,000 [people] in five years,” Schroeder said.

ArtStroll has been a four-block party since its inception three years ago, but Schroeder also envisions it getting physically larger. With the new Figge Arts Center slated to open in 2005 on River Drive between Main and Harrison streets, Schroeder said he’d like to see ArtStroll snake down to LeClaire Park.

ArtStroll Stage Schedule

West Stage

• Midwest Writing Center (6:15-6:45 p.m.)
• Quad City Symphony Ensemble (7-7:30 p.m.)
• City Opera Company (7:45-8:15 p.m.)
• Quad Cities Jazz Festival (8:30-10 p.m.)

Center Stage
• Genesius Guild (6:10-6:40 p.m.)
• Riverboat Development Authority and Midwest Arts Mecca (6:45-7:15 p.m.)
• Putnam Museum & IMAX Theatre (7:20-8:15 p.m.)
• Mississippi Valley Blues Society (8:30-10 p.m.)

East Stage
• Art Works Expo (5-5:40 p.m.)
• Ballet Quad Cities (5:55-6:25 p.m.)
• Bix Beiderbecke Memorial Society (6:40-7:15 p.m.)
• Catfish Jazz Society (7:25-8 p.m.)
• INTENSITY! (8:30-10 p.m.)
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