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COVID & the Arts: Visiting Artists Visit Online


Instead of a 47th season of in-person performances by the Visiting Artist Series in Quad-Cities schools, Quad City Arts has made a wide variety of educational resources available online for free.

It started in October, and the project gives the community access to high-quality performing arts content with added flexibility. Videos are captioned in both English and Spanish, and material from the first 11 artists has been expanded to 23 artists now at quadcityarts.com -- from musicians to actors, dancers to storytellers.

Credit Quad City Arts
Margot Day, Quad City Arts

Margot Day, Performing Arts Director at Quad City Arts, says teachers, students, and parents can see artists perform on any device connected to the internet.

“So we had some opportunities to work with some artists who would have come in, and so they were ready to work with us. But the plans got canceled, obviously. So we sort of collaborated and came up with the idea for them to provide three different videos and two different documents that could be a study guide; it could be a biography, some kind of content that a teacher or a parent could use along with the students to create some discussion or interaction with performing arts.”

Day says the videos could be from a previous performance or concert.

“Some of these are super fresh. They've worked with us to basically create what we would see would be a good fit with our students and our teachers and the curriculum that's provided in the Quad-Cities. So some of it's very handcrafted and totally exclusive to Quad City Arts Visiting Artist Series.”

The documents the artists provide match and connect with their videos. So far, more than 40 teachers and parents have registered for the site, which will be available through June 1st.

“You've got plenty of time to use it. And we were planning to do a second round just after getting that initial batch out and to work out the kinks of the program. But yeah, we've got more. We haven't taken anything away -- we've simply added so that if somebody had a video and then they got caught up and dealing with Covid cancellations and moving online, it's still there. They can use it. It will be up until June.”

As opposed to the free online resources, each school in a typical Visiting Artist Series would pay $250, so Quad City Arts could pay the artist. The current artists are still getting paid.

“We had to pay these artists to create brand new materials. So we reduced the fees, we reduced everything. So we were able to get by without having to charge fees to the schools or any user for this website. And it just seemed a lot more conducive this way; trying to get them to pay before they access the materials was a little too tricky for us"

She wanted to expand the number of artists to offer more variety in the series.

“We started talking about, what other things aren’t presented. There's just such a wide range of musicians, for example. We wanted to make sure that we were trying to get as many new artists. And in some ways, we're just trying to see what the community response might be to some of these artists that we typically would be hesitant to produce or present in a school.”

“So I think it's scaling up and it's totally, it's removing some of those barriers of accessibility. For a student who may be homebound or a student whose classroom isn't participating with a visiting artist series -- they're in a different class. This way, they can just go home or in a certain classroom, they can just log on and see these artists without having to be, you know, sort of in the right place at the right time, with the right organization presenting it. So if you're in a school that typically hasn't hosted a visiting artist, it doesn't matter. You can log in and see what's going on, and you can see all the artists.”

A benefit of the new site is its choice -- usually schools have to wait to see one visiting artist at a time, maybe just once in a year.

“This year, they get to see 23 different artists, any time they want. And they can see them again – log in and look at the video more than once if they want.”

To access the site, visit www.quadcityarts.com/vas.

A native of Detroit, Herb Trix began his radio career as a country-western disc jockey in Roswell, New Mexico (“KRSY, your superkicker in the Pecos Valley”), in 1978. After a stint at an oldies station in Topeka, Kansas (imagine getting paid to play “Louie Louie” and “Great Balls of Fire”), he wormed his way into news, first in Topeka, and then in Freeport Illinois.