I Dare You You Won't

State of MVBS — It’s Been My Honor and Privilege To Serve As President

December 29th, 2021

by Bob Clevenstine

Dear MVBS Members,

For the past two years, it’s been my honor and privilege to serve as the Society’s President. My MVBS officer and Board terms are coming to a close in January, so I will be continuing with committee work. It has been a real period of transition from 2019 when we lost two of our Board members, Beth Carlson and Stan Furlong.  Beth had just rejoined the Board and was on Events and Membership. Stan was a founding member of the Society, chair of Membership, and our web guy.  That Fall we realized we needed a serious shakeup, from administration to marketing to Festival planning, and we needed an effective digital presence to make those things happen. 

The results of a member survey in December – January told us that, while the July 4 timeframe was ideal, your preferred venue, LeClaire Park was more important than the dates.  With a bit of research on other potential competing events, we settled on the 16th and 17th of September, safely away from the summer floods that had sapped the Society’s finances. 

The pandemic emerged as our strategic plan (VI) was finalized, so we were forced to cancel 2020 events, Blues in the Schools, and the Festival itself.  With time on our hands, continued support from grant agencies, and a strategic plan in place, we began digital preservation of our analog archives and provided that newly digitized content to WQPT for a documentary first aired in November ’20.  We then engaged in an overhaul of our website with partners Pixouls of Rock Island, which in turn allowed us to develop digital education resources, simplify membership enrollment, and create a web store.  I cannot say enough about the effort that Pixouls puts in on our website, so check it out!

In pursuit of financial stability, we established an endowment, which shows the community that we are in it for the long haul. Our education material has been requested by teachers in more than 36 states, New Zealand, Canada, Ireland, and England. The new Festival dates, which we finally got to test this year, turned out great. We almost doubled attendance from 2019. I’m sure part of it was pandemic fatigue, part vaccination, and part of the awesome lineup we put together. That lineup would not have been possible without the substantial support of the business community, who stepped up to help us restore the Festival as a major event on the QCA calendar. The Festival would also not have been possible without the volunteer army who comes together for the 4 days surrounding the music. I think it’s important to make a point that most of the volunteers who signed up (and showed up) were not MVBS members. Now, the day-in-day-out work of MVBS doesn’t happen without the support of our regular members, but we would like to see a few more of you filling in the volunteer roster for September 16 and 17, 2022.  And, if this year’s Board ballot didn’t give you a hint, we definitely need more of our regular members to throw their hats in for Board of Director or committee seats. You don’t have to pass a Blues History exam or shred “Crossroads”, you just need to have some time to serve the cause.

To keep this short, I want to close with a thank you to the Society’s Board of Directors, and to all who’ve helped me navigate the last couple of years with the many curve-balls pitched by Covid-19 (20, 21, now 22?).  I look forward to seeing you all out and about, safe and healthy, supporting live music in the Quad Cities in the new year. 


Bob Clevenstine

Posted in Dec 2021

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