QUINCY — More than 8,500 children participated in art programming through the Instant Arts Classroom Funds last school year, even though it was shortened by the COVID-19 pandemic.

During the arts council's 74th annual meeting Tuesday, Arts Quincy said the funds supported 176 projects in 28 public and parochial schools in Adams County.

"We are limited at our school with exposure to art in the classroom," said Judy Gille, of Central Elementary School in Camp Point. "To be able to visit the theater and have a tour is extremely beneficial to see what real actors and actresses do."

With a pause in projects because of COVID-19, more than $3,000 will be carried over into the next school year to serve 1,418 students at 11 schools.

Arts Quincy also highlighted its partnerships with the Moorman Foundation for eight public art pieces at schools in Quincy. Four have been installed, with three being installed over the next week.

The organization also secured a $1.5 million grant through the Rebuild Illinois capital program for the Historical Society of Quincy and Adams County for improvements to the History Museum.

Arts Quincy Executive Director Laura Sievert said the organization had to adapt, offering tours and various instructions digitally during the pandemic. The annual meeting was even held on Zoom.

"Holding a Zoom annual meeting was certainly a new experience, and we missed having cookies and wine, but like the rest of our creative community, we adapted and were able to celebrate our successes, talk about our opportunities and look forward to making creative connections in the next year," she said.

She told those attending that one of the most exciting initiatives moving forward is its Underserved Communities Outreach working group.

"We're partnering with Latonya Brock at the Quincy Area Chamber of Commerce to offer our partner organizations diversity and inclusion training in July, and are planning other training opportunities so that we can reach more seniors, veterans, low-income Quincyans and increase access for people with special needs," she said.

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