BETTENDORF, IOWA (September 26, 2023) — The Looser-Flake Foundation has distributed more than $110,000 in new grants across Mercer County, Illinois. With a focus on creative arts, these grants are making an immediate impact on communities in the region.

In Aledo, the funds have already supported a student art gala. “It’s been incredibly exciting,” said Mayah Balmer, Mercer County Art Collective organizer. “This event showed the town what our young artists are capable of, and what art can bring to this community.”

Administered by the Quad Cities Community Foundation and dedicated to supporting charitable causes in Mercer County, the Looser-Flake Charitable Foundation was established by the estates of Dorothy Looser-Flake and Roberta Looser, sisters who were born and raised on a family farm near New Boston, Illinois. The foundation’s 2023 Creative Arts Grants distributed $111,700 to eleven arts-focused projects in Mercer County, through a collaborative process facilitated by Mercer County Better Together.

“The entire grant process was energizing,” said Lindsey Dunn, executive director of Aledo Main Street, a nonprofit organization working to foster a center of activity in the community by enhancing downtown vibrancy, preserving historical charm, and helping businesses thrive through partnerships and programming in Aledo. “By making the grant effort collaborative, we had an opportunity to learn with other organizations and even weave some of our projects together. The result is a range of art initiatives that will benefit communities across the county.”

In Aledo, that benefit is being immediately felt. “We did an installation in the park to create some buzz for the gala,” said Balmer. “The grant has allowed us to bring this event to life, promote it, and we have an amazing team that’s already thinking about how to build from this,” added Dunn.

The future for the arts in Mercer County is bright. The Looser-Flake Grant will fund student performance and music education, allow upgrades to AV equipment, bring musicians into Mercer County for performances, support film projects, and create new performance spaces.

One of those new spaces will appear in Keithsburg, which received a $30,000 grant to build a riverfront performance stage. “We have a vision for our downtown area,” said Keithsburg city representative Kayla Hillman. “It involves music, art, and other events that bring communities together around the riverfront. This stage — The Keithsburg Landing — is a big part of that vision.”

The Keithsburg Landing will provide a performance venue but also be available for weddings and other special occasions. “Art and music are vital for any community,” Hillman said. “This new venue is going to bring people to Keithsburg and encourage more community involvement from area businesses and vendors. We’re excited to get the project started!”

The Looser-Flake Foundation and projects like the performance space in Keithsburg are creating a bright future for creative arts in the region. “All of these grantees are going to make a long-lasting impact on Mercer County,” said Kelly Thompson, vice president of grantmaking and community initiatives at the Quad Cities Community Foundation. “By investing in the arts, we’re investing in children, supporting tourism, and building culture in these communities. We’re excited to see how these programs continue to develop in the years to come.”

Complete list of grant recipients:

  • Mercer County Community Band — $2,000 to upgrade performance music
  • Quad City Symphony Orchestra — $3,000 to bring education programs to Mercer County
  • Mercer County School District #404 — $4,500 to upgrade streaming equipment
  • Aledo Rhubarb Festival — $5,000 to book local entertainment
  • Aledo Main Street Inc — $6,700 to hold Mercer County art collective, art gala
  • Mercer County School District #404 — $7,136 to add pitched instruments to K-5 music
  • Aledo Central Park Band Shell — $10,000 to update light and sound systems
  • Mercer County School District #404 — $10,000 to add 3-D art program to HS curriculum
  • Golden Eagle Music Boosters — $13,364 to upgrade marching band uniforms
  • Gertrude Movie LLC — $20,000 to produce film about Aledo artist
  • City of Keithsburg — $30,000 to build riverfront performance stage

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