So, one of my theatre friends back on the East Coast just sent me a text about Leo Zanger, and his 100 grandchildren. Our own Quincy made the national news with that little story… Small World!
But that’s not the start or end of it, see. I’ve had this type of thing- people somehow knowing about Quincy, or being from there- happen to me often, and I’ve heard others say the same thing.
Before moving here, upon advancing in a search for a new director for Quincy Community Theatre, I was directing a show at Surflight Theatre, a professional theatre on the Jersey Shore, and one of the cast members, I recalled, was from Quincy. So we talked… Small World!
Last year, my wife and I were on a cruise in the Bahamas, and on a small side trip to St. John’s, one of the sailors casually asked “where we were from?” We replied “Quincy!” He said, “My father’s from there! I’ve been there many times!”… Small World!
Now what does any of this have to do with the arts, you might ask? Well, the city is doing something that may make it even smaller. We’ve been selected as a finalist for the prestigious All-America City. If we win, it will be our third time. A great privilege and honor, where the committee will be celebrated and feasted at the Lighting of the Bridge ceremony on August 22.
But in order to win, we have to make a presentation to the judges. That’s where the arts come in. We had Lynn Snyder and Reg Ankrom from the Historical Society help us research the script. Lois Hendricks from the Quinissippi Needle workers provide a quilt square for a community quilt, and I’ve been directing the piece, with major players involved, including our Mayor Kyle Moore, a previous Mayor, David Nuessen, Whig’s Thomas Van Ness, WGEM’s Carlos Fernandez and student representation from Chaddock (Christian Peters), Teen Reach (Brad Easton), and United Way (Abby Biswell). There are major business, medical, and education representatives from the community as well, all working to bring home the prize. And when we do, many more people will be familiar with Quincy, IL… Small World!
Yeah, I felt a little bit like Hamlet last week. See, we’re reaching out to over 3,500 people who either receive the AQ Magazine and are not a member, or people that, for whatever reason, have not renewed their membership in the past few years. All of the fundraising workshops I’ve attended and all the papers I’ve read all state that we should “reach out” to our patrons and supporters often, and in a variety of manners, and that an original signature is better than an electronic one. So I vacillated…
“an ‘E’ one looks good-
but it isn’t original.
Most people can’t even tell-
but many can, including myself!
Yeah, but just think how long it will take to write that out? Don’t you have more important things to do?
Well, I have many important things to do, but making a personal connection with our members is perhaps one of the most important things I can do!!
So, whenever I’ve had a few free minutes, I’ve been using my blue pen to work on my original signature, including during Chicago’s loss to Anaheim, but I did finish my weekend pile prior to the Mad Men finale.
Now if I could just work on my penmanship.
Get out there and make some ART!!
So, being an actor, and running theatre companies, I’ve often been in the spotlight. You know, interview shows, occasionally being spotted on the street, other actors familiar with your work.
Then I moved to Quincy. As Managing Artistic Director of QCT, I had a very public profile, and I would be more readily recognized by someone on the street, or a stranger would comment on my garden, and I’d think to myself “that person knows where I live!”
But as they say in Quincy, we know where you park your car at night.
So, it was flattering and embarrassing at the same time, when while volunteering at the box office for Mama Won’t Fly at QCT, a patron came to the window and was flabbergasted to meet me in person! He referred to my goofy segment on KHQA on Thursdays, and stated how much he enjoyed it. We shook hands multiple times, asked if I’d sign his cap and kept saying “I can’t believe it!” He loved the silly things I did for the intro segment. His wife had to remind him a couple of times, “that there were people in line behind him waiting for tickets.” As I said, I was embarrassed, but it was also pretty cool.
I’ve asked myself (and my wife) many times if I should continue that goofy practice in the intro to my segment on KHQA…after speaking with my new pal, Ralph Custar, I know that I will.
No get out there and make some ART!!
For the past 18 months, our team has been working on expanding our social media presence. We were able to grow our Facebook likes from 500 to about 1,500, a great increase.
Then, I saw that Quincy Area Visitors and Convention Bureau was doing a campaign: to get 2015 “Likes” in 2015. We decided to challenge them, to see who could get there first! The loser would get a pie in the face from Mike’s Place. The winning Executive Director would be able to smear it into the other’s kisser!
Yes, this was a great gimmick to increase our “Likes” but it became a really great opportunity for us to do good in the community as well. QAVCB was also going to give 2,015 nails to Habitat for Humanity but what do we do?
I then was inspired by Jennifer Bock-Nelson, who last year, while teaching an art workshop, noticed that not everyone had crayons, so she fund-raised to get money for crayons.
The staff at Arts Quincy decided upon buying a box of crayons for every first-grader in Adams County-public and parochial-whether we won or lost. But over the weekend, we won! We have exceeded 2,015 likes and beyond! So, we now have begun a crowdsourcing campaign on IndieGoGo in order to raise the money needed to provide this important service to area first-graders. If you’d like to help, simply click the link and donate. Click Here
I can’t tell you how excited I am to smear Holly’s pretty face with a messy pie. I also can’t wait to see a new house go up with the nails from QAVCB, or to see what incredible drawings these students will come up with using their new crayons ( we hope they will send us some of their artwork!!).
Yeah, I really love my job…now go out there and make some ART!
Well, Dogwood is here for another year, and again, I have a slight dilemma: I love the fact that the parade goes right past my house, but I always feel I should participate!
This year, I tried to see if we could get a majority of arts groups to be represented under the banner of Arts Quincy, and I was not successful, so I will try again next year.
That doesn’t mean I can lollygag around watching it from the comfort of my front porch. I am also on the Quincy #175 Committee, and there is always another person needed, so off I will go, handing candy out to the crowd. Another dilemma: The wife is out of town, so what to do with the dog?
We have an adorable Cocker Spaniel, and she just loves it when the whole town gets together to celebrate her cuteness, so I will be leading her towards Washington Park near the beginning of the parade and she can glow in the adoration thrown her way.
Unfortunately, I’ll have to ditch her in the afternoon so I can be on “Garbage Patrol”…yes, it is a glamorous life I lead. I do have an “All Access Pass,” but who will want to hug me “hello” after lifting 39 smelly containers? Another Dilemma: Will I lift more garbage cans or beer cans?
Hope to see you all out there for fun and festivities: Music, Home tours, Comedies-check out our events page for details.
Now get out there and make some art!
What is art? Well, greater minds than I have wrestled with this burning question, but I have a specific area for this inquiry. Is food art? Well, I think it can be. I know many people quote “art is in the eye of the beholder,” but I can tell you a fry burger at a fast-food joint is not art. But in my opinion, an incredible ground sirloin grilled to perfection with Applewood smoked bacon, killer cheddar, crisp dill and a fresh-baked roll can be.
On Sunday, I attended one of Thyme Square’s farmers dinner with my wife, mother-in-law and our friends, the Dr. Robert & Jen Gervasi, and I totally experienced art.
Cream of Asparagus soup, Cured Salmon with a smear of goat cheese with fresh dill, duck confit salad with an egg poached to perfection followed off by one of the tastiest pork bellies I’ve ever tasted, served on a bed of creamy polenta with grilled asparagus. Topped of with a Cherry and almond tart. MMMMmmmmmmmm...
Another group of friends, Mark Drummond and Carol Sowers were there, and, for those who know the judge, with an incredible wine selection paired with the different courses. Being shy like I am, I groveled for a few sips of their Nectar, and was rewarded with a dram of each, which I promptly shared with my friends, and Voila! Culinary Magic. Hats off the Chef Shupp and to Bacchus, God of Wine.
Good food, good wine and great friends...now, if that’s not art, what is?
The last Sunday of the month, the Sunday Music Series, run by Dr. Phyllis Robertson, showcases some of the extraordinary talents we have in Quincy and the surrounding areas. The March 29 show consisted of many talented musicians that sang, played piano, clarinet, cello and Basset Horn, to name a few. A large portion of the selection was modern music, most of it new to me. One after another, these talented musicians paraded up in front of a mostly full house at the Unitarian Church and played their hearts out to the best of their abilities. We listened with rapt attention, again and again, applauding each of them with enthusiasm.
But who put this event together? Yes Dr. Robertson runs the series, but she gives freedom to area artists to put together a show of their choice.
On this particular Sunday, Robert March was the leader of this series, and behind every one of those talented musicians, was Bob and his incredible skills on the ivory. Awesome? Flawless? Incredible? I would answer each of those to his particular performance.
An accompanist greatest skill is to feature and follow the lead, and Bob was not only gracious and generous, but his playing was phenomenal! Have you ever heard him? If you like music and you live in the Quincy area, I’d say yes!
I am in awe of him! In his eighties, he goes from performing in the Pit of Spamalot, to running his church group, to singing with the Symphony Chorus to rehearsing and performing for the Sunday Music Series. He served in the armed forces, plays for the Rotary Club of Quincy (boy do we love that), and is a father.
I say hats off to this indomitable soul who has given so much to his country & community.
Bob March, you are THE MAN!
Whew! These last few months have not been easy! Yes, it was my idea to make so many changes. No, the board and I decided to not implement all of them. No, I didn't have to do them all at once. But, in the end, it will prove to have been a wise choice and to have been worth it.
I’ve been furiously writing grants in order to pay for these changes, and have been negotiating with area firms to make it an affordable prospect, but I am excited. It is that excitement that is getting me through these past few weeks, and the next few upcoming ones.
Excited for the new format of the color Arts Quincy Magazine. Excited for the new website and all of the things we can do with it, such as; on-line membership renewals, and eventually, selling tickets and taking registrations for classes. Excited to finally change our commercial, because, even though I love the Big River Harmonizers, it’s time to change the “It’s for youuuuuuu-Ding!”
It’s great to have all new technology to help us fulfill our mission, but can someone tell me why that one printer won’t recognize me?!?
As with new technology, a number of things had to be changed or go by the wayside:
Our old data system had become obsolete
Our new website will help us put it all together again, but it may take some time-but we’ll get there!
We changed the focus of our two award programs-the George M. Irwin Arts Awards and the Arts Quincy Student Arts Awards- and with that comes some figuring out.
We changed the Riverfest to ArtsMANIA, held at the Quincy Mall, with a complete focus on our Partner organizations and their activities. Oh, that’s right, we changing how we call the organizations under our umbrella, from Member Organizations to Partner Organizations.
Some of our changes were very difficult, and they were internal changes that affected our personnel, and with that, we lost some of our greatest resources, but they still remain our friends.
We now have new personnel, and they are working like I am, to make this organization the best it can possibly be (and, truth be told, they’re the ones who do all the work!).
So, change ain’t easy, but it can sometimes be great, and this is one of those times.