Arts Council News: The art of relationships

By Anne E. O’Keefe
Executive Director, Rockford Area Arts Council

In this world filled with so many uncertainties, one should not underestimate the importance of relationships. While the Rockford Area Arts Council (RAAC) has had significant funding cuts from the city and the state, we have dedicated a good portion of our time over the past several months to strengthening our relationships with our community leaders, partners and the citizens of Rockford.

We’ve been supported by Rockford Mayor Larry Morrissey (I) and the Rockford City Council with a proclamation for our RAAC ArtsPlace program, with the vocal team, led by Dorothy Paige-Turner, performing right in the council’s chambers. October is Arts and Humanities Month, for which we received proclamation and held our annual fund-raiser, State of the Arts and Mayor’s Arts Awards.

RAAC’s Education Director Sharon Nesbit-Davis is involved with Alignment Rockford. In addition, for the first time in our history, we have a member from the school district serving on our board, Dr. Julie Palkowski, A.P. Curriculum-Fine Arts/CAPA.

I attended, along with three of my board members, the Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University (ERAU) trip to support the effort to land ERAU. One of Rockford’s greatest assets and selling points is our arts and cultural community. We continue to work with the Chamber, Economic Development Council and the airport on promotional opportunities that tie the arts to the “Rock the Air” campaign.

We are in the process of launching our “Artsavers” membership drive, which will call upon everyone in the community to become a member for as little as $25 to help us carry out our mission to support, promote and develop the arts for everyone.

As they say in the fund-raising field, “people give to people.” The statement is not just about money. RAAC’s relationships in the community are a testament that even when there may not be treasures to give, there is respect and support for the arts.

Anne E. O’Keefe is executive director of the Rockford Area Arts Council.

From the Nov. 10-16, 2010 issue

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