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Mission & Vision

Our Mission - To increase authentic arts education experiences for all students in Davenport Community School District. Our Vision - To impact the lives of students through education in all the arts; leading to success in all aspects of life.

artsBASICS Projects - Past, Present & Future

artsBASICS Schools with Artists & Partner Organizations


  • artsBASICS is supporting the Riverssance Children’s Art Tent and selling student made work to support our programming. We have organized art making activities for youth who visit the art festival. 
  • Organizing an arts integration project for all 8th grade students at Sudlow and The Creative Arts Academy. Courage & Identity: Sharing Our Stories and Learning About Others will provide an opportunity for students to build connections to others in our community and with each other. Through an authentic art making experience with a lead artist Sarah Robb, students will ask themselves, How much do we know about those around us? They will learn the stories of local refugees and how other people endure challenges. Through a large-scale mural installation, all students will adorn their learning space with symbols of what makes them courageous and defines their identity.
  • Planning to collaborate with the Davenport Historic Preservation Commission to provide a project based learning opportunity for students to produce media art and teaching materials of downtown historical sites.
  • artsBASICS support an arts integration professional development opportunity for all certified staff at Sudlow Junior High and The Creative Arts Academy on August 22, 2022. Instructor, Christina Farrell specializes in arts integration and has over twenty years experiences as a teaching artist, consultant, and professional development facilitator. She will also be lead a book student and grad/recertification credit opportunity through our MBAEA for educators to continue their arts integration implementation in the classroom.


  • artsBASICS provided Art and Social Emotional Learning lessons to educators at both the elementary and middle school level.
  • Supported students’ participation in programs including Emerging Excellence, Scholastic Art Awards and All State.
  • Offered five summer arts scholarships for nominated students to attend an art summer camp of their choice.
  • Through the assistance of a Quad City Arts Dollars Grant, McKinley Elementary students were able to investigate the history of their neighborhood through an arts integration summer project.


  • artsBASICS provided scholarships for students to attend CAA Summer Workshops which included, Art of the Wizarding World, Imagery and Dance Movement in Musical Theatre, Ani-mazing Animation, Teen Intensive Acting, Songwriting with Lojo Russo, Puppetry creation and performance/Intro to Puppetry, Kidstock Mini, and The Susan Glaspell Play Writing Workshop
  • Through the assistance of an SCRA Grant, artsBASICS has developed a Community Artist in Residency Program that has partnered community artists with community teachers
  • Through the assistance of a Quad-City Arts Dollars Grant, artsBASICS, in their collaboration with the Kennedy Center Arts Education Partnership, offered a 3-day teacher seminar: The Music of Language, presented by one of their national teaching artists, Marcia Daft.
  • ArtsBASICS annual murder mystery fundraiser dinner, Whacked at da Weddin’, will be held November 1st

2017 – 2018

  • Elementary hosted 150 students from the Central High School Marching Band performance and “hands-on” student experiences with their instruments
  • Elementary 4th grade musical, “Multi-cultural — It’s a Small World”
  • Elementary teachers video-taped their use of classroom strategies from the artsBASICS Teacher Arts Summer Integration Seminar
  • CAA students worked with visiting artists for Figge exhibit: Juan Hernandez, Ed DuVall and Carol Hummel

Read more about past accomplishments

The History of artsBASICS

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.

Arts BASICS Today...

Today, artsBASICS, guided by its Mission, serves students in the Davenport Community School District. We seek to provide arts education, in the form of in-depth and sustaining experiences in all of the arts disciplines. This can be a on-going experience with a community artist, a summer extended workshop, or an arts integration project involving multiple areas of art and other curricula areas.

Toward this end, we also provide arts integration workshops for teachers. We know that one teacher can provide increased arts integration with many students over their years of teaching. This makes the effects of these workshops increase dramatically. While teachers who teach at our six artsBASICS Schools have priority for these workshops, teachers from other schools have been, from time to time, able to attend.

We feel that all children can benefit from the arts in their education and their lives. Today, we know that students learn in many ways; some students can grasp math concepts more easily through choreographing a dance or by creating a musical piece. Some, especially in developing early literacy skills, can learn by "reading" a painting and describing what they see to also increase vocabulary. Creating physical tableaus of historical events, can help students gain understanding, insight and empathy for the characters involved by using group dramatic skills. The skills found by being involved in all of arts education, including collaboration, creativity, confidence and global awareness will be even more needed in tomorrow's workplace and enrich these student's lives in ways we can only imagine.

artsBASICS is made up completely of volunteers. All funds come from grants, fundraisers, corporate and individual donors. You CAN make a difference in a child's life.

Please contact us today to find out what "fits" for you to help us help them.

artsBASICS Bijou

We will occasionally provide short videos of a featured artists, students at work, or other pertinent videos in this space.

James Hersch video

artsBASICS Board of Directors

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.

Joel & Diane Franken – artsBASICS Co-Founders & Former Directors

Joel is the former 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 former Co-Director of the artsBASICS program.  She has also served as the Curriculum and Student Support Chair of the Creative Arts Academy of the Quad Cities.


Heidi Hernandez – co-Director

Heidi Hernandez teaches 6th – 8th Grade Visual Arts and co-teaches Creative Seminar this semester.  She is a Fighting Bee – graduating from Saint Ambrose with her Bachelors of Arts in Fine Art and Art Education.  She has exhibited paintings in the Quad Cities, Chicago, Iowa City, and Milwaukee.  One of her paintings can even be seen on an episode of American Pickers!  This is her 13th year teaching.  She previously taught K-5 Art in Geneseo, IL.


Eric Hartmann – Treasurer

Eric is an attorney at Lane & Waterman LLP, where he maintains a general civil practice. He is a 2010 graduate of Davenport Central High School. As a student in Davenport’s public schools, Eric was active in concert band, jazz band, and marching band. He continued playing trumpet at Drake University in Bulldog Brass, the Drake Marching Band, and the Drake Wind Symphony. Eric graduated from the University of Iowa College of Law in 2017. He is currently a member of the Big River Brass Band.


Steve Schaegeler – Davenport Comm. School’s Fine Arts Curriculum Chair

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.


Community Representative

Please contact us if you are interested in serving as artsBASICS’ Community Representative.


Clint Balsar – Communication & Media Arts Consultant

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.


Ron May – Music Consultant

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 rmay2000@aol.com .


Nathan Porteshawver – Theater Consultant

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.


Bridget Trainor Jessen – Dance Consultant

Crowned Miss Scott County in 1983 and Miss Iowa Finalist in 1984.  Bridget continued herdance and performing artsstudies at Marycrest College in 1984-1985, and subsequently earned her B.A. at Truman State University with an Interpersonal Communications Major and Performing Arts Minor.  During 2001-2007, Bridgetdeveloped, facilitated and taught a grant funded program offeringCreative Movement Dance Curriculum tostudentsatUnion TownshipElementary School in Valparaiso, IN.She spent two decades teaching dance, performing and continuing with her personal dance education.
2004-2010 Professional Choreographer of Musical Theater -Northwest Indiana Secondary Schools Chesterton High School and Wheeler High School.Northwest Indiana Community Theaters, the shows include Annie, CATS, Seussical, Beauty and the Beast, Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat, Grease, High School Musical,Grand Hotel……to name a few.
Over the span of three decades Bridget has had extensive instructing experience teaching variety of dance genres and styles to all ages and dance levels.
“We are created for a life of service, the giving of one’s resource, talent and time with love is the true foundation of happiness and success.”  Bridget


Colleen McCarty-Tomlinson – co-Director

Colleen Tomlinson teaches Communication and Media Arts courses at The Creative Arts Academy of the Quad Cities and Visual Arts at Eisenhower Elementary. For years as a lead artist, her niche has been large scale collaborative projects. She has engaged community members at Quad City Art’s Metro Arts Youth Apprenticeship Program, The Heritage for Elderly, Disabled or Handicapped, Boys and Girls Club, Hand in Hand, and Figge Art Museum. As an independent artist, her most current series includes a mixed media series illustrating a narrative from her grandfather’s letters during WWII.

Tomlinson received her B.A. from Augustana College and Teaching Certification from the University of Iowa. A professional leader, she is Communications Chair, Conference Chair for AEI’s 2022 Fall Conference, and Emerging Excellence Host. She served on the Iowa Department of Education’s Fine Arts Standards Adoption Team and the Statewide Fine Arts Leadership Team. She has passionately supported her district as an artsBASICS board member, Visual Arts and Media Arts Curriculum Team member and Collaborative Teacher Team Guide.


Would you like to help? We need your support now, more than ever!