Quincy Society of Fine Arts to suspend Arts/Quincy Riverfest

Melinda Niemann takes a digital photo of several digital photos by Blaine Troup during the Arts/Quincy 2011 Riverfest in Kesler Park. Troup took Best in Show, Artist Booth. (H-W Photo/Michael Kipley)
Posted: Feb. 2, 2012 1:40 pm Updated: Feb. 16, 2012 2:15 pm

Herald-Whig Staff Writer

The Quincy Society of Fine Arts will suspend this year's Arts/Quincy Riverfest, following a vote by the society's board.

Executive Director Rob Dwyer cited financial issues as a key factor in the move to scuttle the festival of visual artists, craftsmen and performers. Founded in 1986, it traditionally has been held on Quincy's riverfront on the third Sunday of each September.

"There's a money problem," Dwyer said. "It's very difficult to do business in this climate."

However, he said it also represents an opportunity to market the QSFA and its partners more effectively, which will be the board's focus going forward.

The main thrust of Riverfest has been to "market 65 partner organizations and create an opportunity for artists to sell their work in Adams County," Dwyer said.

However, the suspension of the festival -- Dwyer stopped short of calling it a cancellation -- means the society now will look at a different direction for marketing, one more targeted to younger patrons, he said.

That will likely mean a stronger focus on social media, he said.

The festival also has struggled to find volunteers in recent years.

Dwyer said the QSFA board and staff didn't take suspending Riverfest lightly. The decision required two votes by the board, although both votes were unanimous.

Riverfest was founded a quarter-century ago by Joe Bonansinga, Mariann Barnard and Rochelle Busby.

It's among the society's biggest annual events, and Dwyer hopes it will be resurrected at some point. "I know it's very difficult to stop doing anything in Quincy," he said.

The QSFA may take a different tack with the festival in the future, possibly holding it at the Quincy Mall rather than on the riverfront.

For the time being, however, Dwyer said QSFA must direct its attention elsewhere, the better to ensure its long-term viability.

"The little energy we have, we'll be spending on social media and trying to attract young people," he said.