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COVID & the Arts: Major Artist Interviews

Spotlight Theater

To help themselves and others get through the pandemic, members of some arts groups in the Quad Cities have recorded special video interviews.

While most of the world is on Covid-19 lockdown, a couple of local arts organizations are taking a creative video approach to keeping their audiences educated and entertained at home. Since late March, the Moline-based Spotlight Theatre and Davenport-based QC Rock Academy have recorded several video interviews – first on Facebook Live – with artists who have made it big in show business.

Greg Hipskind, a drummer and director of the music school, has treated students over the years to in-person clinics and concerts from musicians who’ve come through town on tour.

"My whole thing was, I wanted to think of new things to keep the kids engaged during this whole time. Keep them thinking about music, that isn't just lesson-related, and having a chance like, hey, I got to ask one of my favorite bass players a question and he answered it."

He’s had video chats with members of bands such as Megadeth, Tesla, Darius Rucker, Tim McGraw, Luke Bryan and Miranda Lambert.

"Some of 'em are like, why would I want to hear what that person has to say ? Because they're professionals at the top of their game, that's why." 

Credit Spotlight Theater

During the Spotlight and Rock Academy interviews, anyone can ask a question on Facebook, and go back to re-watch them. Spotlight co-owners Brent and Sara Tubbs spent a number of years in southern California and kept in touch with friends who’ve made it on Broadway and TV. 

Brent – who’s performed around the world with the Reduced Shakespeare Company – did his first video with the head of that troupe, in part just to keep busy in quarantine.

"We were already itching to do something to keep us busy. But also to fulfill the mission of the theater, to educate, to inspire, and entertain."

Among those they’ve interviewed are a star from Broadway’s “The Lion King,” “A Chorus Line” revival on Broadway, and a busy actor from TV’s “The Good Place” and “Brooklyn Nine-Nine.”

Sara Tubbs said they’ve all been very down-to-earth and generous with their time and words of wisdom.

" It's just so cool to see all of our friends from L.A. and we'll see them in commercials all the time. It's fun to catch up with them, see what they're up to, how they got there, and their biggest piece of advice for other people."

You can see the Spotlight videos on thespotlighttheatreqc.com. 

Formerly the arts and entertainment reporter for The Dispatch/Rock Island Argus and Quad-City Times, Jonathan Turner now writes freelance for WVIK and QuadCities.com. He has experience writing for daily newspapers for 32 years and has expertise across a wide range of subject areas, including government, politics, education, the arts, economic development, historic preservation, business, and tourism. He loves writing about music and the arts, as well as a multitude of other topics including features on interesting people, places, and organizations. He has a passion for accompanying musicals, singers, choirs, and instrumentalists. He even wrote his own musical based on The Book of Job, which premiered at Playcrafters in 2010. He wrote a 175-page history book about downtown Davenport, which was published by The History Press in 2016. Turner was honored in 2009 to be among 24 arts journalists nationwide to take part in a 10-day fellowship offered by the National Endowment for the Arts in New York City on classical music and opera, based at Columbia University’s journalism school.
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