History of the Iowa Arts Council
David Leonetti, the first executive director, was charged with conducting a survey of the arts in Iowa in order to determine directions for the new agency.
The study concluded that a poor cultural climate in the state of Iowa existed, due to:
- the lack of arts organizations with state-wide influence,
- the scarcity of performances and exhibits in the major cities,
- poor coordination of existing cultural resources and
- inadequate financial support of the arts (especially in the schools).
Upon the recommendation of Governor Hughes, the Iowa legislature established the Iowa State Arts Council as a state agency on July 1, 1967, and approved the first biennium appropriation of $50,000 ($25,000 per year) for administrative and programming expenses. The National Foundation on the Arts and Humanities also awarded a $39,383 matching grant to the Council for 1967-1968.
In 1986, the executive branch of state government was reorganized and the Iowa Arts Council became a division of the Department of Cultural Affairs. The department has two divisions, the Iowa Arts Council and the State Historical Society of Iowa.
The Governor appoints the Council’s 15-member board. Members volunteer
their time to provide citizen input and counsel to the Iowa Arts Council staff.
Board members are chosen for their knowledge, appreciation and/or support of the
arts and the cultural heritage of Iowa. The board’s primary responsibility
is to review and promote policies and support viewpoints that benefit the arts
throughout the State of Iowa.