Celebrating over a half century of music and dance at Prospect Park.
Quad-City Music Guild is a non-profit organization dedicated to providing high-quality musical entertainment in the Quad Cities. For the Guild, the 2010 schedule will mark the 62nd season of presenting productions in Prospect Park Auditorium, Moline.
Formed in 1949, the Guild was the brainchild of area residents with the idea of creating a forum in which local talent could perform.
Founders of the organization, all now deceased, were Dr. Frederick J. Swanson, music director; E.E. Bartlett, dramatics coach; Dr. John C. Johnson, production coordinator; Earl H. Beling, first Guild president; and H.L. (Roy) Holst of the Moline High Twelve Club, the Guild’s sponsor during the early years.
It all began on the evening of June 22, 1949, when a small group of faithful supporters sat on park benches in the old Chautauqua building to see the first Guild show, Victor Herbert’s "Sweethearts." Tickets cost $1.50.
The idea flourished and the enthusiastic response to the new organization’s first show prompted presentation of three shows in 1950, a pattern that followed until 2000. Audiences continued to respond, and in 1996, QCMG welcomed its 500,000th patron to Prospect Park in Moline. Since then, 50,000 more patrons have visited our theater.
Prospect Park provides a historical setting for all QCMG productions. Nestled among trees, the park overlooks the Rock River valley. The Tri-City Railway Company built the “Prospect Park Pavilion,” as it was then known, in 1903 on property that later became a Moline city park.
In earlier days visitors could arrive via trolley provided by the railway company. Often referred to as a little “ Coney Island,” the park housed a switchback railway ride similar to a roller coaster as well as pony rides and a zoo. Although the theater originally served as an auditorium for the popular Chautauqua programs, it fell into disarray after the advent of motion pictures and automobiles decreased the demand for such entertainment.
During 1949 the Quad-City Music Guild chose the theater for the site of its first production, ultimately saving the pavilion from demolition. Over the years many improvements have been made to the building. A cement floor was laid, dressing rooms furnished, curtains purchased, and orchestra pit developed and a workroom constructed beneath the stage.
Today audiences can enjoy the view from the theater perched atop a picturesque lagoon. Hand-dipped ice cream cones, hot dogs, and popcorn available to patrons before the performances and during intermission are a throwback to a bygone era where park-goers often picknicked and swam in the lake.
Quad-City Music Guild has provided the excitement of live theater exclusively using Quad City area performers. The QCMG founders’ decision to use only local, non-professional residents in all production aspects became a governing principle of the organization. Through the years thousands of area residents have been involved in the productions, some for a single show, others for a season or several years, real veterans for decades.
One of QCMG’s original goals included awarding monetary scholarships to these participants for further study in a musical or dramatic field. Although organized as a non-profit entity, QCMG has provided over $30,000 to the Quad City community since first awarding training grants in 1953. QCMG allows area audiences to further reap the rewards of its scholarship program by also providing a creative outlet for application of these skills learned by past grant recipients in their studies.
Quad-City Music Guild relies heavily on the volunteer spirit for all aspects of their performances, including the directing, acting, choreography, orchestration, lighting, sound, set construction, and concessions. Guild workers range from senior citizens to grade school youngsters, contributing countless hours of community involvement to the Guild.
To date, QCMG producers and directors have utilized the skills of over 15,000 participants. To paraphrase a page from “The Vagabond King” program (1950), "The actors, the actresses, the members of the ensemble on the stage,... the men and women backstage, in the orchestra, and those who have worked for many months on the multitude of details... these are your neighbors and friends."
In June 2000, QCMG completed a $1.4 million renovation of the theater. The project included: a new 4800 square foot lobby; new restrooms; handicapped accessible parking; a new roof; new maintenance free exterior; a new ticket office; a new concessions area; air conditioning and heating; and reupholstered/restored seating.
The complete project was met with great enthusiasm from our patrons. All of our 2000 productions were complete sellouts.