Visiting Artist Series

The Visiting Artist Series is a unique arts residency program that brings professional artists to the Midwest, offering the community the opportunity to see world-class acts representing diverse disciplines at minimal cost. Artists are chosen for their quality and/or educational ability.

Outreach performances during the one- or two-week residencies take place mostly in schools. We serve school district in a six-county service region including the Quad Cities. Residencies are designed to reach students of all ages, from preschool to college.

Visiting Artists also perform at business locations, social service organizations, and public facilities. Each residency concludes with a public performance.

The objectives of the series are to provide extended interactions between the artists and the community, to expose and educate student and adult audiences by broadening their understandings of the arts, and to make arts accessible to a wide variety of people.

Performances occur mostly in schools, but also at business locations, social service organizations and public facilities. The series offers programs for members of civic organizations and after-school programs, senior citizens, the disabled and programs for at-risk youth, including alternative school students.

The 2018-2019 Visiting Artist Series will host nine, accomplished performing artists and ensembles in residence for community engagements, reaching an estimated 41,000 individuals in prekindergarten through high school, community colleges, public libraries, community sites, workplaces, and public concert venues.

Since 1974, the Visiting Artist Series has brought distinguished and engaging artists into six counties in Iowa and Illinois for educational lecture/demonstrations. This series offers quality arts programming to audiences regardless of location or financial status and provides affordable and public presentations of diverse artists to Quad City audiences, including underserved rural areas.

When the series began, professional artists and ensembles presented lectures/demonstrations, workshops, and master classes for prekindergarten through 12th grade students, community college students, and community site audiences, visiting multiple sites each day of their residency. School engagements were artists in residence giving lecture/demonstrations to full-school or large-scale assemblies, for 100-500 students.

We have expanded the Visiting Artist Series to include informal performances at community sites that serve a wide range of audiences, such as libraries, community colleges, and social service organizations. We continued to produce a full-length formal performance at a public venue in partnership with a school or fellow arts organization, often free of charge.

As schools continued to partner with the Visiting Artist Series to offer scholastic arts experiences for their students not available through the regular curriculum, we saw the opportunity to respond to the changing needs of our local classrooms. We saw that our usual programming worked well, but had  limited impact, so the 2015-2016 season introduced deeper outreach engagements with schools. It offered outreach geared towards smaller groups of students, providing a combination of workshops, master classes, and repeated, interactive classroom visits. We continued to offer a traditional all-school assembly.

Through those options, we saw that these more personalized engagements provided a better experience for students, moving from simple arts exposure to deepened knowledge through instruction by a professional artist.

For more information about scheduling an artist’s performance in your school, contact Margot Day, Community Engagement Director at or 309-793-1213, ext. 106.

Public Performances



Quad City Arts also receives significant support for the Visiting Artist Series from Scott County Regional Authority, National Endowment for the Arts, John Deere Foundation, Iowa Arts Council, Amy Helpenstell Foundation, Doris and Victor Day Foundation, Arts Midwest Touring Fund, Rock Island Community Foundation, Community Foundation of Greater Muscatine, U.S. Bank Foundation, and Rauch Family Foundation I.

Lodging for artists is provided by local hotels. Performance space is provided by the Nighswander Theatre at Davenport Junior Theatre, Quad City Symphony Orchestra, St. Ambrose University, Butterworth Center, First Presbyterian Church in Davenport, and Polyrhythms at the River Music Experience. Additional support comes from service fees paid by school districts, Parent Teacher Associations, service clubs, and businesses.