River Music Experience Celebrates 10 Years; Overcoming Challenge - News and Weather For The Quad Cities -

River Music Experience Celebrates 10 Years; Overcoming Challenges

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Thursday night kicked off a big 10th anniversary celebration for River Music Experience. RME was part of a major revitalization effort in that area but it hasn't come without some challenges. So along with celebrating the last decade many are reflecting on that, and hurdles the organization still needs to overcome.

Ten years of music education, history, and live entertainment. A decade ago, RME was part of more than a half dozen projects made possible through River Renaissance, $113 million in mostly state funding meant for more amenities downtown.

"Bring people downtown, give people a quality of entertainment that wasn't in the Quad cities before," said Kyle Carter, Executive Director of the Downtown Davenport Partnership. He thinks RME has delivered that.

So does Ellis Kell who's been a part of the organization since the beginning. "A dream come to true for a local musician to do this for a living and especially be able to give back to the kids."

There have been some sour notes along the way. "We were kind of challenged from the beginning to define ourselves so having that culture, that history, the museum. Everything seemed to work on paper," said Deb Sandry Powers, CEO of RME.

Like any non-profit the organization heavily relies on membership and donations and right now it's dealing with $180,000 accumulated debt. "Our vendors have been carrying us and carrying us. In belief we can do this," added Sandry Powers.

She says some changes that have already happened. For example, the Downtown Partnership taking over the financial burden of River Roots Live, the music festival which RME helped create. There are also changes yet to come.

"We'll run a campaign, a debt elimination. We've been telling people as we go along. We did receive a $40,000 challenge grant," added Sandry Powers.

The organization even turned its front display case into a giant donation box.

"We're only here through the grace on the community and the organizations and individuals the support us," said Kell.

Plan B is to borrow the money needed. But members hope they've found the right harmony to allow RME to thrive in an area that seems to be doing just that.

"Downtown development is working, it's benefiting the entire community and it's going to continue to," said Carter.

For the 10-year anniversary of RME there are a dozen events planned over four days including plenty of music as well as the annual "beeRME" fundraiser Friday night. For more information on events CLICK HERE.

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