Our Mission - To ensure that arts education in all of the arts is a priority in schools for every student. Our Vision - To impact the lives of students through education in all the arts; leading to success in all aspects of life.
Our arts education advocacy organization, artsBASICS (Bridging Arts Strategies between Communities and Schools) was formed in response to the findings of an arts education audit taken of the Davenport Community Schools. This Community Audit was provided by the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts and served as the foundation of a grant received by our group for the school year of 2010-2011 to improve the access and quality of arts education experiences in selected schools towards the goal of becoming arts education model schools. Two elementary schools, one middle school, and one high school were selected.
A team of 10 people from the Davenport Schools and community were selected by the Co-Directors, who had written the grant and included: a representative from each of the arts education areas of the visual arts, music, drama and dance; a school board member, an administrator, a parent, a student, an arts supporter, and a community business partner. This team received training by the Co-Directors including the procedure to complete the Community Audit, the process of Strategic Planning, strategies for arts advocacy, and presentation of arts integration lessons.
Through a wider Task Force formed from the community, the audit was completed and uncovered the most specific need in the Davenport Community Schools arts education program as the lack of access and number of dance and theater experiences, especially in the elementary and middle schools. A Strategic Plan was formulated to create three major committees of Informed Leadership, Educational Content, and Community Connections to begin to address these needs. Each committee created goals and action steps with accompanying time-lines. Our projects have involved those in at least one of the three committees and community business partners, grants and individual donors have provided the funds necessary.
We will occasionally provide short videos of a featured artists, students at work, or other pertinent videos in this space.
artsBASICS is a 501(c)(3) registered non-profit organization. We depend on the support of our many volunteers and the community at large. Below are the current members of the board of directors. The board of directors consists of individuals from all walks of life. Some have backgrounds in education, some in the arts, and others are just concerned members of our community. But what they all bring to the table is a passion for advancing the arts and assuring that all students, no matter their background, no matter their grade level, no matter their goals or interests, are exposed to the arts. If you would like to assist artsBASICS as a volunteer or join the board (as positions become available) contact us.
Presently, Joel is Director of the Creative Arts Academy of the Quad Cities in Davenport, Iowa. He is a National Board Certified Teacher and was among the first in the nation to receive this certification in Early Adolescence and Young Adult Art. Mr. Franken was also elected to serve on the 63 member National Board for Professional Teaching Standards until his retirement from secondary art education. He has served as the Art Educators of Iowa President and selected their Secondary Educator of the Year and their Art Educator of the Year. Franken is responsible for establishing AEI’s Visual Arts All-State Competition in which the brightest and most artistic secondary visual arts students in the state are recognized. Joel has also served as the chairperson of the Iowa Department of Education “Fine Arts” Outcomes and Assessment Committee which was established. He received his BA in Art Education from the University of Northern Iowa University and his MA in Art Education from the University of Northeast Missouri State. He was an Iowa State “Da Vinci” Scholar; a US West Telephone Company initiative that created educational experiences using Visual Art teachers collaborating with Chemistry Teachers. In Davenport, Joel served on the Figge Art Museum’s Artist Advisory Committee. As an artist, Joel’s ceramics and paintings are in private collections in the Midwest.
Diane is a National Board Certified Teacher in Visual Art and served as the district art coordinator for the Rockaway Township Schools in New Jersey. She was named the National Middle School Art Educator and board member of the National Art Education Association as the Middle Level Director and as their liaison to the Consortium of National Arts Education Associations, Diane joined other leaders in Dance, Theater and Music to write an Integrated Arts Guide. She became a Getty Education Foundation facilitator in Discipline Based Art Education and as president of the Art Educators of New Jersey; Diane served on the state’s Arts Assessment Committee, received an Excellence Award from the New Jersey State School Boards Association for an Arts Education Advocacy film and was awarded five Governor’s Awards for Arts Education Leadership. Diane co-authored two published art production texts for teachers and numerous art education periodical articles, co-chaired various arts teacher curriculum institutes and has given arts education presentations at Columbia University, national conventions and several state conventions. As an artist, Diane’s paintings are in private collections on the East Coast. After moving back to her hometown of Davenport, Iowa, Diane served as the Arts Resource Coordinator for the Lincoln Academy of Integrated Arts and a member of the Figge Art Museum Education Committee. Diane is the former Executive Director for the Iowa Alliance for Arts Education and presently the Co-Director of the artsBASICS program. Most recently, after serving as the Curriculum and Student Support Chair of the Creative Arts Academy of the Quad Cities, Diane is presently a member of the CAA’s Advisory Board.
Tyson Danner is the founder and Artistic Director of the professional non-profit theatre company, the QC Theatre Workshop, where he has directed such productions as RED, True West, A Steady Rain, and The Pillowman. Tyson also works as the Managing Director of Davenport Junior Theatre, where he directed the world-premiere of the new family musical 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea by Aaron Randolph III. From time to time, he puts his music degree from St. Ambrose University to work as a musical director at the QC Theatre Workshop, Countryside Community Theatre, and Circa ’21 Dinner Playhouse. As a theatre artist, Tyson is passionate about how arts-integrated education will create the next generation of artists and arts audiences, and is excited to support the vision of artsBASICS.
Jessica Taylor is a regular in the Quad Cities arts scene. She is the Coordinator and Development
Specialist at the Creative Arts Academy of the Quad Cities in Davenport, IA. Jessica is a Davenport
native, graduating from Davenport North High School. She received Bachelor’s degrees in Radio/TV
Production and Journalism from St. Ambrose University where she also minored in Theatre.
Jessica was a founding artist at the QC Theatre Workshop and is a proud member of the Workshop
Board. Jessica has appeared in numerous shows and readings at the Workshop including Molly in Peter
and the Starcatcher, Madeline Morton in Inheritors, Li’l Bit in How I Learned to Drive and Sylvia
in Tribes. Jessica has also worked in multiple capacities including acting, sound design, stage
management and teaching with other local theatre and production companies including The Curtainbox
Theatre Company, Davenport Junior Theatre and New Ground Theatre. She has originated roles in
numerous world premiere productions including Alyssa in Broken, Mom/Counselor in A Green River and
Suzanne/Young Coco in Creme de Coco directed by Broadway director Philip Wm. McKinley (Spiderman:
Turn Off the Dark, The Boy from Oz.) Jessica can be seen onscreen in A Cadaver Christmas, Call Me
Crazy, Amelia 2.0, and Sons and Daughters of Thunder.
David Mahl’s interest and involvement in the arts began in elementary school and continues today. Having a background in chorus, band (percussion) and theater, David continued pursuing opportunities in the arts as he took several theater courses and performed while attending the University of Iowa. Besides taking theater courses, David earned a Bachelor of Business Administration Degree from the University of Iowa and holds a law degree from Saint Louis University School of Law.
Presently, David not only practices law at his own firm, but participates in the arts whenever possible. David has acted in several community and professional theater performances as well as directing several shows such as Ordinary People, Picasso and the Lapin Agile, The Underpants, The Odd Couple, True West, Rocky Horror Picture Show, and Romeo and Juliet.
Having a desire to give others experiences in the arts, David is the treasurer for artsBASICS where he collaborates with the board of directors and school officials to ensure Davenport students gain access to the arts. David also supports his wife, Tamara Byrum Mahl, and daughters’ participation in the arts. Tamara plays in local various Quad City musical groups and serves on the Quad City Symphony Board of Directors. David’s daughters are involved in orchestra, piano, dance, and theater.
Clint has been teaching visual arts for over 20 years and now specializes in Communication Arts. He instructs Computer Graphics, Motion Graphics, Video and Photography. Clint is an Adobe certified expert in Adobe Premiere Software and currently serves as the Media Arts teacher at the Creative Arts Academy of the Quad Cities.
Rich Clewell is a member of the Davenport Community School Board and father of two children who attended Davenport Schools. While he believes that the fine arts are beneficial to students in facilitating spatial and logical understanding of traditional academic subjects, he is primarily concerned about inclusion of the arts in the curriculum for art’s sake. “If we are serious about the education of our youth, we need to recognize that in order for our graduates to achieve their constitutional right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness, they will need more than the traditional academic core. The arts are the essential humanizing aspect of education, without which graduates are ill-equipped to find the beauty and potential in their lives.”
Ron May has been a music educator serving the Quad Cities for over 40 years. After graduating from Augustana College with a BME in choral/vocal music education, he has served as a choral director for high schools in Moline (IL), Davenport (IA), and North Scott (IA) schools. He has a Masters Degree in Vocal Performance and Pedagogy from the University of Iowa where he has also completed the coursework for a Doctoral Degree in Conducting. Through his leadership, his high school ensembles have performed in several exceptional venues including a performance for the American Choral Directors Association (ACDA) Regional Convention, and an appearance on the NBC “Today Show”, several performances in Carnegie Hall through MidAmerica Productions, and a unique opportunity in Washington D.C. as a state representative for the bi-centennial of the White House. His ensembles have toured Europe several times and many of his students have gone on to careers in music as educators, professional singers, and conductors. As a conductor, he has guest directed numerous district and regional high school choral festivals including the Illinois All State Chorus. He has served as President of District II in the Illinois Music Educators Association (ILMEA) and has served on the board of directors for ILMEA and the Illinois chapter of the ACDA as well as an advisor for the Illinois High School Association. He was honored as the national outstanding music educator by the National Federation of High School Associations in 2007. He has sung professionally as guest soloist with the Rochester Symphony Orchestra (MN), was guest artist with the Quad City Symphony Orchestra, and was selected by national audition to be a participant in the Carnegie Hall Choral Institute to sing Verdi’s “Requiem” in New York City conducted by Robert Shaw. In addition to music education, May is a well-known church musician and currently serves as organist and choirmaster for Trinity Episcopal Cathedral in Davenport, Iowa. He was chosen by audition to sing with the National Choir of the Royal School of Church Music in America where he sang a week of choral Evensongs in London’s Westminster Abbey and most recently sang at the National Cathedral in Washington D.C. in honor of Martin Luther King Day. He is the co-founder of Opera Quad Cities and has conducted many of its performances (Cosi fan tutte, Carmen, La Boheme, and Rigoletto among others). He has also served as music director for several professional musical theatre productions at Circa 21 Dinner Playhouse (Fiddler on the Roof, Legally Blonde, Sister Act, Hairspray, and Whodunit-the-Musical, among many others). His musical theatre students have performed on Broadway (Fantasticks, Miss Saigon, The Full Monty, & The Drowsy Chaperone) as well as in many regional productions and national tours. He is currently Division Chair for the Performing Arts at the Creative Arts Academy in Davenport, Iowa, and is an adjunct faculty member at St. Ambrose University in musical theatre and choral music. He is married to Cindy, a freelance choreographer, and they have two grown children, Tyson and Briony. Ron can be contacted at email@example.com .
Danyelle graduated from the Creative and Performing Arts program at Churchill High School in Livonia, MI in 2001. It was the CAPA program which cultivated her love for the arts and set her on her path for the future. After attending Central Michigan University and spending some time in the business world, she decided she missed the arts. She left her banking position in 2006 to take a chance at Arthur Murray Dance Studio (AMDS) and has never looked back since. Throughout her career with AMDS, Danyelle has received numerous awards and trained with countless top professionals. In 2013 she moved to Davenport to help Wesley Arnold run the downtown AMDS when the former owner decided to retire. She has been working with artsBASICS since 2014 and is pleased to accept the role of Dance Consultant.
Steven Schwaegler is currently Fine Arts Curriculum and Instruction Specialist for the Davenport (Iowa) Community Schools. Previously, he was Director of Bands at Moline (Illinois) High School for 27 years. Prior to that, he was Director of Bands at J. Sterling Morton High School (Berwyn/Cicero, Illinois) for six years. Schwaegler received both the Bachelor of Music Education and Master of Music degrees from Northwestern University, where he studied conducting with John P. Paynter, and trombone with Frank Crisafulli (Chicago Symphony Orchestra). As an Ed. D. candidate at the University of Illinois in Urbana/Champaign, he studied conducting with James Keene, and trombone with Eliot Chasanov (formerly of the United States Air Force Band). Mr. Schwaegler has served as a guest conductor of the Illinois Summer Youth Music Camp on the campus of the University of Illinois, Urbana/Champaign, on numerous occasions. Schwaegler was named 1995 Educator of the Year by the Moline Jaycees and received 19 Awards of Excellence from the Moline Board of Education. In 1996 the Moline High School PTSA presented him with the Illinois PTA Distinguished Service Scroll. In 2011 he was presented a Certificate of Achievement by the Moline High School PTSA. In 1997 he was named a Master Teacher by The Moline Daily Dispatch/Rock Island Argus Newspaper and received the John Deere/Harvester Teaching Award. He represented Moline School District No. 40 in the Illinois State Board of Educations “Those Who Excel” awards program, and received an Award of Certificate. On three occasions he was awarded “Most Inspirational Teacher” in recognition of excellence in preparing students for academic achievement and leadership by Western Illinois University. Steve is principal trombone of the Quad City Wind Ensemble, and has been featured as guest conductor and guest soloist. He served as Illinois Music Educators Association District II Senior Band Chairman and District II Jazz Chairman and All-State Trombone Adjudicator. For 24 years he served as Illinois High School Association Solo and Ensemble Site Chairman. He is a member of the Iowa Music Education Association, National Association of Music Education, and the Iowa Bandmasters Association. Married to Susan Schwaegler, Instructor of Clarinet at Augustana College, Rock Island, IL, they have three children and two grandchildren. Greg is married and is an orchestra director at Neuqua Valley High School, Naperville, Illinois. Tim is married and works with media in Miami Beach, Florida. And Kate is married and an ice skating coach and personal trainer in the Quad Cities.
Nathan Porteshawver is an artist and data scientist living in Austin, Texas. Nathan graduated Summa Cum Laude from Brandeis University in 2009 with degrees in Politics and Theatre, and he was awarded membership to Phi Beta Kappa. In 2016 Nathan graduated from Northwestern University with a Masters of Science in Predictive Analytics. He is the founder and artistic director of the Internet Players, a non-profit theater company dedicated to the production of new and original theater works. He was also the founding chair for artsBASICS. He has served as the development director for The VORTEX Repertory company, and he has participated in countless productions in his professional theatre career. Currently, his entrepreneurial work includes curriculum development for online higher education, theatre production (producing, directing, acting, playwriting) and business consultation.