COVID & the Arts: QC Hive Expands Its Fund Raising
The buzz around QC HIVE is growing stronger, as the group expands its charitable reach.
In response to the coronavirus, which has closed most businesses and put people out of work, Donovan Gustofson of Davenport launched the Facebook group QC HIVE on March 23rd, originally intended to pick a local musician or business to help each day, asking people to donate at least $1 and share the post.
The group has since grown to 6,353 members, and extended its reach to serve not only small-business owners and musicians, but everyone from DJs and sound engineers, to hair stylists, other artists, bartenders, and people who work with kids. During its first 52 days, QC Hive raised over $31,000, or more than $600 per recipient.
Gustofson is a full-time musician – bassist in the Q-C band Funktastic Five, assistant music director at Davenport’s St. Paul Lutheran Church, and adjunct music teacher at Black Hawk College, offering private piano, guitar and bass lessons. He gets 50 nominations every couple days so he wanted to help more people, because everyone is hurting financially.
"We're going to be expanding, or casting a wider net for our nominees in the future. I have enough to go through the rest of the calendar year, easily, already."
Overall, Gustofson has been impressed that even recipients who get a small amount are very gracious and grateful to see complete strangers giving. And the struggling people who get donations occasionally will give to others.
"I think it's a testament to a lot of the goodwill people in this area have for each other. It's fantastic."
Aimee Ford -- a Moline-based visual artist, tattoo artist, and former children's art instructor -- is one who's both grateful and giving.
"It's been crazy. It was very humbling to realize how kind people can be. I have been a waitress; that's all I ever did. I was a waitress, then I was an artist."
"I feel that people who get charity also give charity. I just don't know how you couldn't. I think $1 speaks so much."
Sara Barto, a friend of Gustofson's, was not only put out of work as a bartender, with the March closing of the new Off Point Pub in Davenport, she was diagnosed March 13th with stage 4 colon cancer. The donations from QC HIVE were especially meaningful and welcome.
"It's such a great way for even people who don't have a lot of money, to help people, even if it's just $1 a day. I feel like everybody can afford that to support people in our own community. These are people we know, that we go see on the weekend play live, or we visit their establishments."
Though her husband is working from home for his John Deere I-T job, they have three kids and some big out-of-pocket costs for her cancer treatment. Though Gustofson teaches piano to one of her boys, Barto initially didn't feel she deserved the help from QC Hive.
"I'm just a bartender. Some of these people are just amazing business owners and musicians, and I'm just not sure. He was like, 'Oh no, so many people know you, they love you, they want to help out and do what they can. So, OK, that's fine."
To celebrate the HIVE's 50th day, Gustofson showcased artists in Nashville, who are originally from the Quad-Cities, in a live-streamed concert where people could donate. His brother Will is a professional guitarist in Nashville, and QC HIVE plans to feature more local musicians doing similar live streams.