Quad Cities Cultural Trust helps cornerstone arts and culture organizations flourish

Jacki O'Donnell has a deep sense of respect and appreciation for the five key cultural and arts organizations in the community supported by the Quad Cities Cultural Trust (QCCT). It is a love and appreciation for their work that has been brewing for decades—one strengthened over the past few years as she has served as QCCT's administrative director.

"It's been fun," O'Donnell said. "I've been able to spend time with the staff of five great organizations, learning about their challenges, and finding ways QCCT can support them today—and always."

QCCT currently operates a $21 million endowment to grant funding to the Figge Art Museum, the Quad City Symphony Orchestra, Putnam Museum and Science Center, Quad City Botanical Center, and River Music Experience. It was founded in 2007 by the Bechtel Trusts, the Hubbell-Waterman Foundation, and the John Deere Foundation.

This summer, the QCCT board voted to open a fund with the Quad Cities Community Foundation, partnering with the foundation to enhance QCCT's work and steward their resources. "By working with the Community Foundation, donors have another way to leave a legacy," O'Donnell said. "It will provide us with more visibility, and help us develop our professional fundraising expertise as we work to increase our endowment in the months and years ahead."

It is a partnership that the Community Foundation is thrilled about, said Sherry Ristau, President and CEO.

"QCCT supports the cornerstone arts and culture organizations in our community," Ristau said. "One of the primary things we can do as a Community Foundation is connect our community with creative ways to ensure permanent resources are available for people and places that make our region cool, creative, connected and prosperous. Through this fund, our community can participate in supporting QCCT's priorities in big ways."

That's already happening through endowments like the one set up by Mary Rose Hawkinson, which supports QCCT's work, she added.

O'Donnell said QCCT supports organizations whose work aligns with the Q2030 Regional Action Plan, including attracting and retaining young families and professionals, contributing to the area's economic development, and improving the community's quality of life.

"We've given $7 million in grants to the five organizations over the past nine years," she said. "It's brought both me, and our board, more insight into their work. We see their value more clearly and more strongly. We see how people can—and do—benefit from these organizations."

And it has inspired QCCT to double their efforts to ensure their success and extend their reach. O'Donnell believes a stronger connection with the community is vital to supporting the organizations long term.

That was never more clear than one evening after a symphony concert on the Mississippi waterfront as O'Donnell walked through the crowd with a friend, who also happened to be one of the cellists in the symphony. "People were so excited to speak with him," she said. "I was watching the interactions and realized that many of them had never spoken one-on-one with a musician from the symphony before. I take that for granted."

Encouraging more of those types of interactions is a great way to remind people of how important organizations like the symphony are to the community, O'Donnell said. "Working with staff members of the organizations, I see firsthand the expertise, passion, commitment, inventiveness and creativity they bring to our community," she said. "They're doing their work for the community. I wish everyone had that insight."

Art and culture are essential parts of a community's life, O'Donnell said, and she hopes that the partnership with the Community Foundation signals the important role both play in the region. "Our goal is to provide sufficient support so these organizations can work on their mission without worrying about their survival," she said. "Our vision has been focused on not just helping them survive, but thrive."

O'Donnell believes the support from QCCT will draw more people to events and missions of the five organizations, and infuse a renewed energy into the hundreds of other arts and culture groups who—together—make the community great.

"It is important to me to see new people come and take advantage of these great opportunities," she said. "Our work today means these opportunities will be available always."

For more information about QCCT, visit www.qcct.org.

To learn more about how you can support the work of QCCT by setting up an endowment, or making a contribution to the fund established by QCCT, call our  Development Team, at 563/326-2840. You can also give online by clicking here.

Melanie JonesDonors, Grant