2017 Annual Report

The Rockford Area Arts Council is pleased to report on our activities that address our mission to promote, support and develop the arts for everyone. It is your support that allows the Arts Council to reach out in our region to bring the arts to everyone, young and old, from every economic and ethnic background.

Here are the highlights of the 2016-2017 season.

Promoting the Arts:

New this year:

Shumway Gallery Opening

RAAC has recently renovated its historic Shumway Building from a regular office space to an art gallery and intimate performance space! The Shumway Gallery allows the public to view great works of art featuring artists from across the United States and the Rockford area. Our first exhibitor was Alice Klock (March 13-April 8). Gallery hours are Monday-Friday from 10 a.m. – 4 p.m.

Continuing Programs:

Shumway Market Promotions

RAAC OFFICE at 713 East State serves as a venue to advertise local arts events. Brochures and posters are prominently displayed and accessible for tourists and local walk-in visitors.

Additionally social media has been a great way for us to reach more people and share all the great arts activities in our area. RAAC posts local arts events on RAAC Facebook page and through twitter.

RAAC ArtScene

Held every April and October, this annual event attracts between 8,000 and 10,000 residents and visitors to Rockford’s finest galleries, studios and other venues and affords many local artists increased visibility and sales.
Fall 2016 (42 venues/322 artists)
Spring 2017 (33 venues/234 artists)


Rockford City Market

RAAC offered artists the opportunity to showcase work at the RAAC booth at Rockford City Market every Friday from May 19 through September 29. (14 artists/groups)
Participating Artists:
Roni Golan (The Underground)
Lenny French (Kandinsky’s Creative Group)
Jason Gough (Rockford Creations)
Greg O’Neil (Leaf River Woodcrafters)
Balta Ramirez (RKFD Collection)
Jenny Mathews (Rockford Illustrating)
Kyle McDonald
RAAC ArtsPlace
Rockford Art Guild
Klaus Thomas Asher (Wooden Backroads)
New Mix
William Benson (Old Farm Products)
Laura Sjoquist
Diane Currier (Honey Poo Poo’s)

Supporting the Arts

New this year:

Establishment of the Rockford Arts Alliance-a network gathering for arts organizations to share updates, best practices, and advocate for the arts.

Continuing programs:

2017 Grant Recipients
The Rockford Area Arts Council awarded nearly $19,000 in grants to artists, arts organizations and community groups. These grants are made possible in part by the Illinois Arts Council Agency, the City of Rockford and our generous members. We would like to thank all our grant recipients for their fine contributions to the community through the arts!

2017 Community Arts Access Grants
The Rockford Area Arts Council offers grants up to $2,500 to artists and community non-profit organizations for projects which increase access to the arts for underserved people and/or increase the visibility of the arts for people in Boone, DeKalb, Ogle, and Winnebago counties.

2017 Community Arts Access Grant Recipients

African-American Resource Center: “Bookerfest” celebration of African and African-American art, music, food and history held July 2017 at Booker Park – $500

Artists’ Ensemble Theater: AET will form a new performance troupe of 6-10 teens offering free performances for underserved youth – $1,500

Boone County Arts Council: “The Fifth Grade Arts Festival” introducing students to various art mediums – $500

Center for the Arts & Spirituality: “The Art Kitchen” providing art opportunities for the underserved to enable personal expression and community connection – $500

Discovery Center Museum: DCM will host performances by Ho Etsu Taiko Japanese drummers in conjunction with the traveling exhibit Hello from Japan in summer 2017″ – $800

Eswood PTO/Boosters: The Art Attack School of Art classes for students at Eswood Elementary School – $2,000

NAMI Northern Illinois: A Video Gallery of Poetry, Music and Theatre bringing the artistic experiences of persons with mental illness into the community – $800

Natural Land Institute: “Art in Nature” program at Klehm Arboretum providing hands-on learning in nature with students at Lathrop School – $2,000

Rockford Art Museum: “The Outsiders: Spiezer Collection Art Exhibit” on view February 10-May 29, 2017 at RAM – $500

Rockford Dance Company: RDC and Gigi’s Playhouse will offer 30 classes to adults with Down Syndrome culminating in a performance at RMP – $1,000

Rockford Public School District #205: “After school music programs for underserved school students in grades 2-5 – $500

Rockford Rescue Mission: Art Therapy classes and “Remade” program involving local artists for residents – $1,000

Rockford Symphony Orchestra: RSO Guest Artist Outreach providing educational presentations and a live performance to underserved students – $800

Rockford Wind Ensemble: “Fifteenth Annual Youth Honors Band” workshop and performance – $1,200

The Music Academy: A Cellobration and Conversation with Edward Kelsey Moore, collaboration with The Music Academy & Rockford Public Library – $1,000

The West Side Show Room: 2017 Rockford New Play Festival presents a staged reading of six original short plays by playwrights from Rockford and around the world – $600

Village of Mt. Morris: “Mt. Morris Jamboree” free music concert series from June-August – $800


The Rockford Area Arts Council also offers grants up to $350 for arts projects needing immediate
funding in small amounts, available to artists and arts organizations in Winnebago County.
Applications accepted throughout the year or until funding is depleted.

Ethnic Heritage Museum African American Gallery: “From Slave Quarters to Kwanzaa” – $350

Plastic Age Productions (Travis Legge): “She Kills Monsters” live performance at the Nordlof Center in Spring 2017 – $350

Rockford Operetta Party: Presentation of “El Capitan” on May 12, 2017 – $250

Rockford Dance Company: “Help A Family” a project to sponsor a family to take dance classes at RDC – $350

Rockford Park District: “Music in the Park” free summer concert series at Sinnissippi Park Music Shell – $350

Crossroads Blues Society: “Crossroads Blues Festival” held August 26 at Lyran Park – $350

Rockford Police Department: “Community Kid Zone” art sessions for youth held at Auburn High School – $350


Council Choraleers
Local music educator and performing artist, Dorothy Paige-Turner invited youth ages 9-12 from public schools, private schools and the home-schooled in the greater Rockford area to participate in Council Choraleers, a community chorus coordinated in collaboration with the Rockford Area Arts Council.

Rehearsals began on September 6, 2016 through May 2, 2017 and the “Choraleers” met weekly at Court Street United Methodist Church in Rockford. The first concert was presented on October 22 at Just Goods Listening Room. Additional performances included Rockford University, Grace Lutheran Church, Spring Creek United Church of Christ, Mendelssohn Hall, Court Street United Methodist Church, Brook Road United Methodist Church, Christ the Carpenter United Methodist Church, Barnes & Noble Books and Wesley Willows. A special community performance “Let Freedom Ring” was held on January 17 at Mendelssohn Hall to celebrate the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

This exceptional performing experience was an opportunity to heighten community awareness of the enormous artistic talent of our youth. This program was made possible thanks to the selflessness of Dorothy Paige-Turner who donated her time and talent to this project. (20 youth/ages 9-12)

Developing the Arts

New this year:

Shumway Players Performances
October 2016 – June 2017 original plays written and directed by Connie Kuntz were presented in this intimate space. They included: Halloween at the Shumway; There’s a Buddhist Loose in Rockford; Feverland; and Cultivation. Original music by Matthew Flamm and choreography by Meghan and Caitlyn Baylor was featured. The cast was intergenerational and plays were inspired by historical events that draw parallels to present day. They were equal parts thoughtful and humorous and casts were comprised of children and adults of all ages.

ArtsPlace Intensive
The Rockford Area Arts Council offered “ArtsPlace Intensive” during RPS Winter and Spring breaks for youth ages 14-18 at the Rockford Dance Company and Mendelssohn Performing Arts Center. Youth had the opportunity to choose from a variety of offerings: Ballet, Hip Hop, Theater, Gelli Prints, Photography, and Creative Writing.

Youth Arts Council
In partnership with Mendelssohn Performing Arts Center, RAAC invited area high schools to appoint two-three students to begin an advisory youth arts council. The purpose of the council is to promote and support arts events to and for youth and create and develop arts events and service projects. Twenty-five youth were appointed. Meetings were held in the spring and will continue in the 2017-18 school year. Their first project was assisting with a mural project for the Winnebago Animal Shelter.

The Arts Council offered ArtsPlace for the twenty-third consecutive summer. ArtsPlace is an arts apprenticeship program for youth ages 14-18 with priority given to youth from low income families. Its mission is to mentor the development of youth through the arts.

ArtsPlace is essentially an entrepreneurial enterprise in which the youth are engaged in all aspects of the business: creating the product, pricing, advertising, selling, budgeting, problem solving, continuous evaluation and improvement. Arts performances are created and presented to the public; original artwork is exhibited and sold. To authentically replicate real work experience, proceeds earned by the sale of the artwork and ticket sales for performances are awarded to the ArtsPlace apprentices. All teams participate in community service through offering performances in the community and donating art to local benefits. Through the process of creating art, the youth learn to set goals and identify obstacles to overcome or avoid. They create strategies for achievement that will positively impact their lives.

This year ArtsPlace teams were led by professional artists including Bruce McDonald; Visual Arts, Meghan Baylor; Dance, and David Causey, Theater. Guest artists included Kari McDonald, Eileen Morrissey and Nathan Alan Davis. Sites included Rockford Dance Company and Mendelssohn Hall. The culmination of this year’s ArtsPlace program highlighted the finished work of the students in “Explorations” ….an art exhibit, sale and a collaborative performance featuring the ArtsPlace Dance and Performing Arts teams at Nordlof Center.

ArtsPlace is supported through grants from The Blazer Foundation, Illinois Arts Council Agency, Community Foundation of Northern Illinois, City of Rockford, Alpine Kiwanis Charities, Rockford School District #205 and individual donations. A special “thank you” to Mendelssohn Performing Arts Center and Rockford Dance Company for providing studio space. (38 youth/ages 14-18)

The Rockford Area Arts Council offered RAAC Camp, a two-week camp for young creatives, ages 5-13 who love to sing, draw, dance, rap and make movies from June 5-15 and July 10-20 at Ellis School culminating with a free performance and art exhibit for family and friends.

This year RAAC Camp artists include: Marvin Hawkins (Hip Hop Dance), Brad Koloch (Choir, Rap, Guitar), Carroll ZuBolton (Drama), Esteban Perez & Contessa Golden (Visual Art), Tracy Davis (Modern Dance), Connie Kuntz (Video) and Bahiyyih El-Shabbaz (Creative Writing). Jennifer Golden was the Camp Director and Jesse Kuntz was the Stage Manager and Production Director. The campers will present a final performance and art exhibit on Thursday, June 15 & Thursday, July 20 at 3:00 p.m. The audience will be amazed at how much the children learn in two weeks. The performance and exhibit is free and open to the public.This program is partially supported by a grant from the Illinois Arts Council Agency, City of Rockford, Rockford School District #205, Community Foundation of Northern Illinois and JoAnn Shaheen.

After-School Programs
In partnership with the Rockford Park District and United Way, RAAC coordinated after-school arts classes for District 205 schools: Ellis, Lewis Lemon, McIntosh, and Nelson. Artists were: Tracy Davis and Marvin Hawkins for dance, Esteban Perez and Ann-Margret Naber for visual arts, and Carroll ZuBolton for theater.

Kennedy Center Partnership
The Rockford Area Arts Council and Rockford School District 205 continued their partnership as
Kennedy Center Partners in Education as established in 2012. This partnership resulted in District 205 receiving two multiple year federal grants for arts integration into math and professional development for arts specialists and classroom teachers. Executive Director, Sharon Nesbit-Davis, through the generous support of anonymous donors attended the Annual Meeting in Washington DC that focused on building strong partnerships to impact the community. Sharon and RPS Grant Director Dr. Travis Woulfe developed plans at the Annual Meeting that resulted in expanding the partnership team, identifying goals, and organizing an arts integration workshop and showcase to present to teachers in the region. The event was held August 16 at District 205 Administration Building.

New Mix
The Rockford Housing Authority and the Rockford Area Arts Council are partners for a grant from the National Endowment for the Arts that support New Mix, our collaborative effort to identify residents from low income families who have artistic talent but lack the means to develop it further. The program was inspired by ArtsPlace but structured to accommodate the needs of adults. There were workshop series offered by professional artists to develop artistic skills and individual mentoring to develop personal goals and business plans. Activities this year included workshops on photography, comedy, jewelry, and theater arts.

Poetry Out Loud: National Recitation Competition
Poetry Out Loud is a free national program sponsored by the National Endowment for the Arts and the Poetry Foundation. The Illinois Arts Council Agency designated the Rockford Area Arts Council as the regional coordinator of the Northern Illinois Poetry Out Loud competition. The regional competition was held at Jefferson High School in Rockford on February 22, 2017. Participating schools this year were: Auburn and Jefferson High Schools. Winner, Olyvia Micklo (Jefferson) and first runner up Nathan Weimerskirk (Jefferson) went on to compete in the state competition held in Springfield in March. Ana Plankenhorn (Jefferson) was the alternate. This program is partially supported by a grant from the Illinois Arts Council Agency, the City of Rockford and our members.

Rockford Area Arts Council staff and board:

In March 2017 Sharon Nesbit-Davis was named Executive Director of the Rockford Area Arts Council.
Ann-Margret Naber, Administrative Assistant
Trisha Blassage, Business Manager
RAAC employed 22 artists and 2 administrative staff for RAAC Camp, ArtsPlace, After-School, and New Mix programs.

Rockford Area Arts Council 2016-2017 Board of Directors
Doug Mark, Chair
Caitlyn Baylor, Vice Chair *
Ron Clewer, Treasurer
Connie Kuntz, Secretary *
Monica Krysztopa, Past President

Alderman John Beck
Alderman Natavias Ervins*
Dennis Horton
Emily Klonicki*
Jordan McDonald*
Ann Rundall
Bonnie Spurling*
Maurice West II

*New Board Members

The Rockford Area Arts Council staff and board are looking forward to our 30th Anniversary year celebrating the arts for everyone! Throughout this coming year we will highlight the arts and artists in our area through the Rockford Area Arts Awards (formerly known as Mayor’s Arts Awards), Sense-Sations…a new event designed to inspire creativity and raise funds for RAAC, the Driftwood Art Project [art creations drifting out into the community], and an end of summer downtown Arts Festival.

Thank you for your membership and your support of the arts for everyone!

2017 Donors and Sponsors

$5,000 and up
City of Rockford
Illinois Arts Council Agency
National Endowment for the Arts

Arts Friend ($30-$49)
Richard & Sally Baker
William Benson
Paul & Carol Burkholder
Karla Clark
Paul & Jeannette Colombi
Diane Currier
Ted & Ruth Duckett
Priscilla Flynn-Heath
Jason Gough
Margarita Graves
Gerrie Gustafson
Nina Hackman
Dawn Hallsten & Don Mateer
Bernard & Mary Healy
Doris Kampfe
Katie’s Cup Coffeebar
Alice Klock
Jesse & Connie Kuntz
John Lombardo
Marilen Loyola
Rickeya Lundy
Tom Mac
Jenny Mathews
Kyle & Tamara McDonald
Kari McDonald
Andrew Menzies
Dora Meredith
Judith Meyer
Earlynn Mullins
Carol Ostrom
Carolyn Plummer
Kanwal & Meenakshi Prashar
Sherry Pritz
Kathy Roushey
Therese Rowinski
James & Sarah Scanlon
Susan Schumacher
Julie Serrato
Harvey & Natalie Share
Laura Sjoquist
Polly Smith
Kyle & Margo Stedman
Senator Dave Syverson
Lynne Townsend
Adriana Villagomez
Diane Voneida
Kristin Wilson
Henry Wilson
Addison Youngblood

Arts Supporter ($50-$99)
Abreo Restaurant
Diane Addison
Jean Apgar
Jane Austin
Kathleen Ayres
Meghan Baylor
John & Sandra Beck
Ray Brandt
Arthur & Elaine Breck
Alan Brown
Michael Bugler
Warren & Marilyn Cade
Tom Clabough
Peter Damby
Jeff & Joanna Dowling
Joseph & Susan Drennan
LaVona Farney
Dr. & Mrs. Terrance Fisher
Stephen & Jean Geller
Robert & Bonnie Gosdick
Susan Grans
Mary Gubbe Lee
Don & Shirley Hacker
Shirley Henley
Cynthia Hill
Dr. & Mrs. Donald Holder
Kay Hotchkiss
Steve & Alise Howlett
Mary Ellen Jansen
Jeanette Jess Geraghty
Mark & Nancy Kalchbrenner
Jennifer Kuroda
Ed & Lee Ladenburger
Dr. & Mrs. Herb Lash
Faye Marcus
Karyn Martin-Bohl
Paul & Agnes Mastrangeli
Don & Judith McCanse
Bethany Mead
James & Helen Millikin
Daniel & Michelle Minick
Bruce & Judy Moe
Eileen Morrissey
Dorothy Paige-Turner
Jeff & Julie Palkowski
Raymond & Joe Marie Paul
Fred & Becky Pelley
Erin Rabon
Tim & Carrie Rollins
Trish Rooney
Joel Ross
Erin Schreiner
Social Urban Bar & Restaurant
Bonnie Spurling
Steven & Marcia Terrill
Craig & Dawn Thomas
Bert & Kathy Thomas
Eleanor Turbyville
Brian Wallheimer
William & Marijean Whitcher

Arts Enthusiast ($100-$199)
David & Karen Anderson-Wade
Robert Apolloni
Paul & Teri Baits
Karen Barbagallo
Steve Beard
Kurt &Sarah Bell
David & Anne Boccignone
Lois Cannell Ramon
Nicholas & Carole Carbone
Ron Clewer & Bridget French
Janice Clinton
John & Diane Cobb
John R. Cook
Joan Davis
Philip & Kathy Dierstein
Jack & Zelka Dillon
Marilyn Dougherty
Eric & Gretchen Ericson
George & Jane Farbotko
Tom & Darlene Furst
Ginny Gregory
Fred & Maxine Hadley
Bob & Nadine Hallstrom
Rachel Handlin & Michael Beert
Margaret Henning
Ron & Barbara Herbig
Thomas & Helen Hill
Lon Hoegberg
Gregory Johnson
Jim & Pam Keeling
Norm Knott
Carol Last
Jay & Christy Lenox
Dan & Amy Loescher
Roger & Nancy Lundstrom
Betsey McCoy
Bruce & Deborah McDonald
Tom & Sarah McNamara
Webbs & Mary Norman
Alice Pampe
Del & Lois Peterson
Jana Politsch
Charles Prorok & Marcia Mueller
Nicholas & Heather Psaltis
Dr. & Mrs. Gary Rifkin
Joe & Mary Jo Ross
Dick & Ann Rundall
Una Ryan
James & Arline Sadlon
Joan Sage
Frank & Gayanne Schepley
Thomas & Karen Schiller
Debra Schwarze
Tom & Karen Shifo
William & Julie Snively
Edward & Petrinella Sowell
Ken & Pat Staaf
Bill & Cathie Thiede
Pat Tollefsrud
Doug & Diane Wilson

Arts Fanatic ($200-$499)
Albano & Lynn Andreini
Paul & Pat Casarotto
Jim & Connie Coffey
George & Sharon Davis
Kelly Epperson-Simmons
Dan & Cathy Herdeman
Cindy Karnitz & Chris Finneran
Curt & Laurie Kleckler
Jude & Patricia Lai
Richard Leighton
Scott & Mona Lindvall
John & Barbara McNamara
Michael & Julie Shalbrack
Jack & Barbara Simon

Arts Cherub ($500-$999)
John & Sue Brubaker
Steve & Lisa Carter
Sjostrom & Sons, Inc.

Arts Angel ($1000+)
William & Leah Baskin
Bergstrom, Inc.
James & Julie Buchanan
Jack & Colleen Holmbeck
Mary Ann Smith

Foundation Contributions
Bainum Family Foundation
Gloyd Family Foundation
The Ben Harding Family Foundation
Janet A. Kjellstrom Foundation

Arts Organizations
Anderson Japanese Gardens
Artists’ Ensemble Theater
Boone County Arts Council
Crossroads Blues Society
Discovery Center Museum
Ethnic Heritage Museum
In Print Professional Writers
Kantorei, The Singing Boys of Rockford
Kishwaukee Valley Concert Band
Klehm Arboretum & Botanic Garden
Leaf River Woodcrafters
Main Street Players of Boone County
Mendelssohn Performing Arts Center
Midway Village Museum
NAMI Northern IL Stars of Light
Natural Land Institute
Northern Illinois Wood Turners
Pec Playhouse Theatre
Rockford Area Convention & Visitors Bureau
Rockford Art Guild
Rockford Art Museum
Rockford Chamber Players
Rockford Lutheran Choral Union
Rockford Lutheran School
Rockford Public Library
Rockford Rescue Mission
Rockford Symphony Orchestra
Rockford Wind Ensemble
Rockford Writers’ Guild
Sigma Alpha Iota
The Arc of Winnebago, Boone & Ogle Counties
The Music Academy of Rockford
The West Side Show Room
Usual Suspects

Matching Donors
TRUiST Giving Program
Exelon Foundation Giving Program

ArtsPlace Sponsors
Alpine Kiwanis Charities
City of Rockford
Community Foundation of Northern Illinois
Illinois Arts Councy Agency
Mendelssohn Performing Arts Center
Rockford Dance Company
Rockford Public Schools #205
The Blazer Foundation

RAAC Camp Sponsors
City of Rockford
Community Foundation of Northern Illinois
Illinois Arts Council Agency
Rockford Public Schools #205
JoAnn Shaheen

Rockford Park District


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Rockford Area Arts Council
713 E State St.
Rockford, IL 61104
info @ artsforeveryone.com