Annual Report

Dear Arts Council Members,

The Rockford Area Arts Council is pleased to report on our activities this year.  It is through your support that allows the Arts Council to realize our mission: support, promote and develop the arts for everyone!

Here are the highlights of the 2018-2019 season.

Promoting the Arts:

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.

Social media is used to share all the great arts events in our area.

Shumway Gallery

The Shumway Gallery allows the public to view great works of art featuring artists from across the United States and the Rockford area.  Exhibitor’s included Brock Pieper, RVC Student Art Show, Auburn CAPA Student Exhibit, Sinnissippi Quilters and Penny Cash.
Gallery hours are Monday-Friday from 10 a.m. – 4 p.m. 

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 2018 (38 venues)

Spring 2019 (42 venues)

Rockford City Market

RAAC offered artists the opportunity to showcase work at the RAAC Booth at Rockford City Market every Friday from May 17 through September 27.

Participating Artists:

  • Jenny Mathews (Rockford Illustrating)
  • Kyle McDonald
  • Selina Burright (The Blunt Unicorn Revolution)
  • Delany Appino/Lily Johnston
  • Brock Pieper
  • Amy Ottens (Sinnissippi Quilters)

  • Evangelina Jimenez (Gallery 317)
  • Valerie Gibbons (FootsieStools)
  • Rockford Area Arts Council (ArtsPlace/Beattie Is)
  • Thomas Harrison (Three Ravens Studio)
  • Greg O’Neil (Leaf River Woodcrafters)

Rockford Area Arts Awards
The Rockford Area Arts Council, Mayor Thomas McNamara and Winnebago County Board Chairman Frank Haney hosted the 2019 Rockford Area Arts Awards on Thursday, February 21 from 5:30 p.m. – 7:30 p.m. at the Rockford Art Museum.

RAAA honors outstanding artists, arts advocates, and arts and cultural events. 2019 Rockford Area Arts Awards were presented to: Individual Artist, Margaret Raether, Young Artist, Gabriel Roethle, Community Impact Award, “Band Grandpa Program” presented by the Rockford  Symphony Orchestra  & Rockford Public School and Creative Cultural Event, Fairy Festival” presented by Womanspace.

The event also inaugurated a new Lifetime Achievement Award through posthumous recognition of Sister Dorothy Bock.


Prior to the awards, attendees enjoyed viewing the Rockford Art Museum’s Cheryl Pope’s “Not Without A Fight” Exhibit while guests enjoyed performances by Miles Neilsen & Kelly Steward, Xen Kingsley, Jayqwon Tobias, and KFACT Dance Team.  Attendees were treated to appetizers by Abreo served by youth volunteers from RAAC’s ArtsPlace. A special thank you to Rockford Art Museum for hosting the event.

Beattie Is…Back Arts Festival

On September 8, 2019 the Rockford Area Arts Council presented one of the Midwest’s most popular and highly regarded outdoor celebrations of the arts at City Market Pavilion.  Beattie Is…Arts Festival is a family friendly arts festival that featured a high-quality artist market, art demonstrations, on-stage performances and specialty food vendors.  The festival began with an opening ceremony at Beattie Park where the Festival first got its name in 1974.

(49 artist/food vendors)
(36 performers)
(56 volunteers)
(2,000 in attendance )

Supporting the Arts


The Rockford Area Arts Council awarded nearly $16,000 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!

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.


Arcomusical NFP
A collaborative project “Resonating Strings” with jazz basist & composer Matt Ulery – $500

Artists’ Ensemble Theater
AET will form a new performance troupe of 4-6 teens offering free performances for underserved youth in the summer of 2019 – $1,200

Boone County Arts Council
“The Fifth Grade Arts Festival” introducing students to various art mediums in October 2019 – $700

Eswood PTO/Boosters
The Art Attack School of Art fine art classes for students at Eswood Elementary School – $750

Friends of the Coronado
“Reach for the Stars” a project for RPS 4th grade students featuring a performance of Currents by Mayumana in March 2019 at the CPAC – $2,000

Kantorei, The Singing Boys of Rockford
“Summer Choral Camp” one week camp for boys and girls ages 6-18 – $500

Mendelssohn Performing Arts Center
“Schubertiad” a celebration of the music of Schubert through a concert and educational outreach events – $500

Midway Village Museum
“The Midway Village Traveling Bijou Theater”- $1,100

Rockford Art Museum
An exhibition surveying installations and sculptures by artist Cheryl Pope – $750

Rockford Park District Foundation
“Sounds of Summer” Free Music Concert Series every June-August – $1,895

Rockford Symphony Orchestra
“Share-A-Seat Program” allowing community members receiving assistance from local human services organizations to attend RSO performances – $1,250

Rockford Wind Ensemble
“Seventeenth Annual Youth Honors Band” workshop and performance – $2,250

The West Side Show Room
2019 Rockford New Play Festival – $1,400

Village of Mt. Morris
“Mt. Morris Jamboree” free music summer concert series at the Campus Band Shell – $500



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.

Dorothy Hawthorne: “7 Broken Frames” a play about human trafficking domestic violence – $350

Evangelina Jimenez: “The Rules of Road are not Colorblind” -$333

The West Side Show Room: The WSSR Performing Arts Library – $350

Ethnic Heritage Museum:  A Black Nativity a gospel song/play and Kwanzaa Celebration – $350

Rockford Park District: 33rd Annual Illinois Snow Sculpting Competition – $350

Camp Fireside (SRCA): Rockford Dance Company will provide classes to adults with disabilities at Camp Fireside – $350

Thomas Vaultonburg – “Paper Fingers” Mechanical Typewriting in the Digital Age -$350

Rock House Kids – Rock House Kids Bell Ringing Art Program – $345

Rockford Public Library – Installation of interactive “With RPL I Can!” Mural in Youth Services – $350

Olivia Corcoran – “Seeing the Unseen” an introduction to photography – $327


Council Choraleers
Local music educator and performing artist, Dorothy Paige-Turner invited youth ages 8-13 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 4, 2018 and the “Choraleers” met weekly at Court Street United Methodist Church in Rockford.  The first concert was presented on October 27 at Just Goods Listening Room. Additional performances included Rockford University, Christ the Carpenter United Methodist Church, the Baha’i Center.  A special community performance “Let Freedom Ring” was held on January 21 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.

 Developing the Arts

  • ArtsPlace
    The Arts Council offered ArtsPlace for the twenty-fourth 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, David Causey, Theater and Molly Sides, Creative Writing.  Guest artists for visual arts included Pam Peterson, Molly Carter, Jenny Mathews and Eileen Morrissey. Guest artists for dance were Artis Olds, who performs with the touring company of STOMP, Blazey Dickenso and Jasper Sanchez. The culmination of this year’s ArtsPlace program highlighted the finished work of the students in “FOUND” ….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, ComEd, Illinois Arts Council Agency, Community Foundation of Northern Illinois, City of Rockford, National Endowment for the Arts,  Rockford School District #205, Kiwanis Club of Rockford, and individual donations.  A special “thank you” to Rockford Art Museum, Rockford Dance Company, Rockford Public Library and the Nordlof Center for providing studio space.


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 July 9-26 at Ellis School culminating with a free performance and art exhibit for family and friends.
This year RAAC Camp artists include:  Tracy Davis (Modern Dance),  Carroll  ZuBolton  & Sharon Nesbit-Davis (Theater), Esteban Perez & Contessa Tucker (Visual Arts), Shu Tehu Ra & Kate Kilgore (Video),  Carl & Dianna Cole (Choir), Bahiyyih El-Shabbaz (Creative Writing) and Thomas  Parker (Drumming & Marching Arts).  The campers  presented a final performance and art exhibit on Friday, July 19 at 3:00 p.m.  The audience was amazed at how much the children learned in
two  weeks. The performance and exhibit was 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 , 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 and Allynthia White 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. RAAC Intern through the generous support of anonymous donors attended the Annual Meeting in Washington DC that focused on building strong partnerships to impact the community.

New Mix
The Rockford Housing Authority and the Rockford Area Arts Council were 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 the Nordlof Center in Rockford on February 20, 2019.  Participating schools this year were: Jefferson High School (Rockford, IL) and Bureau Valley High School (Manilus, IL). 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:

Sharon Nesbit-Davis, Executive Director

Ann-Margret Naber, Administrative Assistant

Kate Kilgore, Education/Engagement Director

Rockford Area Arts Council 2018-2019 Board of Directors
John Beck, Chair
Emily Klonicki, Vice Chair
Paula Capone, Treasurer
Armando Cardenas, Secretary
James Crow
Bryn Jakeway
Violet Johnicker
Greg Johnson
Maureen Kirshmann
Ann Rundall
Alison Weust
Ian Yehling


The Rockford Area Arts Council staff and board thank you for your membership and your support of the arts for everyone!

2018 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
Michael Baker
Penny Cash
Karla Clark
Design by 109
Priscilla Flynn-Heath
Footsie Stools, Ltd.
Erik Foster
Lenny French
Laura Gomel
Jason Gough
Gerrie Gustafson
Nina Hackman
Dawn Hallsten & Don Mateer
Thomas Harrison
Bernard & Mary Healy
Margaret Henning
Dick & Margret Hynes
Dorothy Jensen
Doris Kampfe
Katie’s Cup Coffeebar
Jesse & Connie Kuntz
John Lombardo
Tom Mac
Main Street Gallery by M & M Photography
Jenny Mathews
Kyle & Tamara McDonald
Tom & Sarah McNamara
Judith Meyer
Earlynn Mullins
Greg O’Neil & Whitney Fogle
Carol Ostrom
Beverly Peoples
Brock & Erica Pieper
Carolyn Plummer
Kanwal & Meenakshi Prashar
Sherry Pritz
Kathy Roushey
James & Sarah Scanlon
Julie Serrato
Harvey & Natalie Share
Laura Sjoquist
Polly Smith
Kyle & Margo Stedman
Senator Dave Syverson
Jaime Torraco
Diane Voneida
Kristin Wilson
Henry Wilson & Bonnie Hansen
Amy Young
David Zoberis Sr. 

Arts Supporter ($50-$99)
Abreo Restaurant
Diane Addison
Jean Apgar
Jane Austin
Meghan Baylor
John & Sandra Beck
Arthur & Elaine Breck
Paul & Carol Burkholder
Warren & Marilyn Cade
Janice Clinton
Peter Damby
Jeff & Joanna Dowling
Joseph & Susan Drennan
LaVona Farney
Terrance & Lois Fisher
Stephen & Jean Geller
Robert & Bonnie Gosdick
Mary Gubbe Lee
Don & Shirley Hacker
Cynthia Hill
Lon Hoegberg
Don & Judy Holder
Dennis Horton
Kay Hotchkiss
Steve & Alise Howlett
William & Ingrid Hyde
Mary Ellen Jansen
Karen Johnson
Bob Kantner
Ed & Lee Ladenburger
Dr. & Mrs. Herb Lash
Erin Mackey
Faye Marcus
Karyn Martin-Bohl
Paul & Agnes Mastrangeli
Don & Judith McCanse
Jordan & Kari McDonald
Bethany Mead
James & Helen Millikin
Daniel & Michelle Minick
Bruce & Judy Moe
Rudy & Laura Ortiz
Dorothy Paige-Turner
Jeff & Julie Palkowski
Raymond & Jo Marie Paul
Fred & Becky Pelley
Stephanie Quinn
Tim & Carrie Rollins
Trish Rooney
Joel Ross
Therese Rowinski
Keith & Pamela Shaver
Social Urban Bar & Restaurant
Steven & Marcia Terrill
Bert & Kathy Thomas
Sheila Torrisi
William & Marijean Whitcher
Doug & Diane Wilson
Samuel & Janna Wyant

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

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

Matching Donors
Exelon Foundation Giving Program
McGraw-Hill Education Foundation Matching Gift Program
Network for Good
TRUiST Giving Program

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

Rockford Park District


Arts Enthusiast ($100-$199)
David & Karen Anderson-Wade
Robert Apolloni
Paul & Teri Baits
Karen Barbagallo
Caitlyn Baylor
Steve Beard
Kurt & Sarah Bell
David & Anne Boccignone
Lois Cannell Ramon
Nicholas & Carole Carbone
John & Diane Cobb
Joan Davis
Philip & Kathy Dierstein
Marilyn Dougherty
Ted & Ruth Duckett
Kelly Epperson-Simmons
Eric & Gretchen Ericson
George & Janet Farbotko
Gregory & Laurel Franchini
Thomas & Darlene Furst
Jody Goff
Fred & Maxine Hadley
Bob & Nadine Hallstrom
Rachel Handlin & Michael Beert
Ron & Barbara Herbig
Helen Hill
Jeanette Jess Geraghty
Cindy Karnitz
Kim Keefe
Norm Knott
Carol Last
Jay & Christy Lenox
Dan & Amy Loescher
Christopher Lopez & Cassandra Martinez
Roger & Nancy Lundstrom
Betsey McCoy
Bruce & Deborah McDonald
Alice Pampe
Del & Lois Peterson
Jana Politsch
Rick & Judith Pollack
Charles Prorok & Marcia Mueller
Nicholas & Heather Psaltis
Gary & Terry Rifkin
Joe & Mary Jo Ross
Dick & Ann Rundall
Joan Sage
Frank & Gayanne Schepley
Thomas & Karen Schiller
Erin Schreiner
Tom & Karen Shifo
William & Julie Snively
Bill & Cathie Thiede
James & Marjorie Veitch
Tom & Karen Walsh
Steven & Janice Westlund

Arts Fanatic ($200-$499)
Albano & Lynn Andreini
Paul & Patricia Casarotto
Jim & Connie Coffey
James Crow
George & Sharon Davis
Dan & Cathy Herdeman
Jim & Pam Keeling
Curt & Laurie Kleckler
Harlan & Sue Knuth
Richard Leighton
Scott & Mona Lindvall
John & Barbara McNamara
Jaxon & Linda Oshita
Steven & Judy Penticoff
Jack & Barbara Simon

Arts Cherub ($500-$999)
Steve & Lisa Carter
Sjostrom & Sons, Inc.
Keith Syfert & Linda Miller

Arts Organizations
2nd City Chorus
Artists’ Ensemble Theater
Boone County Arts Council
Crossroads Blues Society
Discovery Center Museum
Ethnic Heritage Museum
Kishwaukee Valley Concert Band
Klehm Arboretum & Botanic Garden
Main Street Players of Boone County
Mendelssohn Performing Arts Center
Midway Village Museum
Natural Land Institute
Northern Illinois Wood Turners
Pec Playhouse Theatre
RAMI Awards
Rockford Art Guild
Rockford Art Museum
Rockford Chamber Players
Rockford Coronado Concert Association
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
Stepping Stones Stars of Light
The Arc of Winnebago Boone & Ogle Counties
The Music Academy – Loreen Hall
The West Side Show Room

ArtsPlace Sponsors
The Blazer Foundation
Illinois Arts Council Agency
Community Foundation of Northern Illinois
City of Rockford
Alpine Kiwanis Charities
The Kjellstrom Foundation
National Endowment for the Arts.
Rockford Dance Company
Rockford Public Library
Rockford Public Schools #205
The Nordlof Center

Beattie Is Arts Festival Sponsors
Community Foundation of Northern Illinois
Kiwanis Club of Rockford
Nicholson Hardware
Aqua-Aerobic Systems
Eckburg Insurance
Power 106.3
317 Art Collective
Rockford Park District
Illinois Arts Council Agency
City of Rockford
Members Alliance Credit Union
El Sol De Rockford
Cronin Roofing & Construction