Arts Update Newsletter


Spring 2017

After six months as Interim Director, the RAAC Board offered Sharon Nesbit-Davis the Executive Director position. RAAC has an inspiring mission:  to support, promote and develop the arts for everyone and we are heartened by the support of the board, staff and volunteers who are working to help us move forward.  Thank you for sharing your love of the arts with us and each other.  Thank you for believing in us!


Above is our mission & vision board. The upper portion is projects, activities and services we are currently doing. The lower section is future plans. [Two of those projects are in the implementation phase: Creation of a High School Arts Council & a regional Arts & Culture Planning Calendar!]

Here are a few highlights from our last quarter:

Through funding from the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) and Illinois Arts Council Agency, RAAC awarded 17 grants to artists and organizations for programs and projects that provide access to the arts for under-served populations. We will highlight them throughout the year.

Here’s what has happened so far:

RAAC grant supported the beginning of an afterschool instrumental music program at Froberg School taught by Dave Bartel.  Thirty students showed up for the first session and the principal was so pleased she added a class period during the school day.


The Art Attack School - On the Road: RAAC grant funded an artist to provide classes at Eswood Elementary School in Lindenwood, IL.  Without the grant there would be no art offered.

 POETRY OUT LOUD                                   

RAAC coordinated the Regional Poetry Out Loud Competition. Two students from Jefferson, Olyvia Micklo and Nathan Weimerskeirk were selected and competed at the Illinois Poetry Out Loud Competition in Springfield in March.  Olyvia made it into the final round.  This is only the second time a Northern IL regional winner made it that far!  The 2017 National Finals will be held April 25-26, 2017 at the Lisner Auditorium at The George Washington University.  The semifinals and finals will be webcast live online:  The program is supported by the National Endowment for the Arts and the National Poetry Foundation.

 ARTS EDUCATION                                                                                                                                                                       March: Received a Mayoral Proclamation for Arts in Education month emphasizing the importance of all children receiving quality arts education.                                                                                                                                                                                                

RAAC and District 205 are Kennedy Center Partners in Education. Dr. Travis Wolfe and I attended the annual meeting in February and returned with a renewed commitment to increasing the quality of arts education and staff development in arts integration instructional methods. One of those plans: An Arts Expo will be held August 16, 2017 to showcase and demonstrate arts integration lessons and how it impacts student learning.  Teachers, Board Members and the public will be invited!


RAAC Artist Carroll Zu-Bolton worked with students from Ellis School to create an impressive program for Black History Month which included poetry recitation, monologues, dance and singing. There was a standing room only crowd for the evening production. The children wanted to take the show on the road and were invited to perform at the Baha'i New Year celebration on March 20.


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. 

The Shumway held two "soft openings" in October and December and in February featured the grand opening of Feverland, a dark comedy that commemorated the 88th anniversary of the St. Valentine's Day Massacre.  The original play written by Connie Kuntz featured live music, a cast of veteran actors and a chorus of thirteen children.                                                                     

Rockford Area Arts Council presents the 15th Annual Spring ArtScene featuring original works of art at 33 venues across the Rockford and Rockford metro area on Friday, April 21, 5-9 p.m. and Saturday, April 22, 4-9 p.m.  Auburn's CAPA students will exhibit at RAAC for Spring ArtScene!

The Great American Cleanup sponsored by Keep Northern Illinois Beautiful will be held on April 22.  The Shumway is a designated coordination site. Sign up to participate at or call 815-637-1343       

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