IAC Press Release

For Immediate Release: November 9, 2007

Contact: Jeff Morgan
Public Relations

Iowa Arts Council awards $105,000 in Major Grants

State ranks nearly last for investment in the arts - IAC continues to see young Iowans leave state for more arts and entertainment opportunities

(DES MOINES, Iowa)—The Iowa Arts Council today announced it awarded 16 Major Project Grants totaling $105,000 to individual artists and arts organizations serving Iowans across the state.

IAC, a division of the Iowa Department of Cultural Affairs, received 66 Major Grant applications requesting $526,198 this fall to fund projects developed by individual artists, arts organizations, schools and other community groups working to bring excellence in the arts to all Iowans. The grant program emphasizes artistic excellence, service to Iowans, and solid project planning and implementation. Applicants may request up to $10,000.

This was the second of two rounds of Major Grant awards for fiscal year 2008. Overall, IAC awarded 39 Major Grants totaling $255,000 after receiving 144 applications requesting nearly $1.2 million for this fiscal year.

“The number of applications we received during the fiscal year is encouraging because it shows how much Iowans care about the arts,” DCA Director Cyndi Pederson said. “These grants support independent artists and those who work in cultural and educational organizations, and allow them to continue to build a cultural infrastructure that is essential for Iowa’s economic growth and educational opportunities.”

Iowa ranks 45th for investment in the arts

Today’s announcement, however, comes as Iowa continues to rank nearly last in the country for investing in the arts. Iowa is 45th among the 50 states for investing in the arts per capita, according to the National Assembly of State Arts Agencies. NASAA is the membership organization of the nation’s state and jurisdictional arts agencies.

“This is particularly disappointing because we continue to hear over and over again from younger Iowans who say they are leaving the state not only for better paying jobs, but for more arts and cultural entertainment options, too,” Pederson said. “The Iowa Arts Council exists to support the arts throughout Iowa, but we are limited to the resources that are made available to us.”

IAC receives about $1.2 million in legislative appropriations annually for its programs. IAC also receives about $550,000 from the National Endowment for the Arts to support the arts in Iowa.

The state’s contribution translates to an investment in the arts of $0.41 cents per capita. The national average is $1.07. According to NASAA, the top five states for investment in the arts per capita are:

(State, per capita investment, rank)

Hawaii, $4.84, 1st
Maryland, $2.56, 2nd
New York, $2.55, 3rd
Delaware, $2.44, 4th
Rhode Island, $2.37, 5th

Other Midwestern states invest the following per capita in the arts:

Minnesota, $1.67, 9th
Illinois, $1.06, 18th
South Dakota, $0.79, 27th
Nebraska, $0.66, 30th
Missouri, $0.64, 33rd
Kansas, $0.57, 38th
Wisconsin, $0.44, 43rd
Iowa, $0.41, 45th

Despite the low ranking, DCA has developed creative strategies that give Iowans an edge in recruiting and retaining workers and businesses. When DCA commissioned a Creative Economy Study in 2003, it found:

“The study also found evidence that backs up the claims we are hearing from younger Iowans,” Pederson said. “The study said younger Iowans place quality of life opportunities at the top of their priority list – second behind salary and ahead of benefits, stock options and company stability.”

In addition to offering grant programs through IAC and the State Historical Society of Iowa, DCA responded to Iowans’ requests by creating Cultural Entertainment Districts and Iowa Great Places, which give Iowans opportunities to work as partners with the state to identify grant programs and fulfill project proposals.

“As we move forward, it is important to strengthen our investment in the arts because a vibrant cultural infrastructure attracts creative workers who then become the resources for businesses looking to expand or relocate,” Pederson said. “That’s the investment we need to build on our success in making Iowa’s communities great places to live, work and play.”

The following projects were awarded IAC Major Grant funding this fall:

(Grant Amount)
(City, State)


Story Theater Company
Ames, Iowa
Grant funding from the Iowa Arts Council supports six performances of “The Lion, the Witch & the Wardrobe” at Ames City Auditorium, January 11-13 & 18-20, 2008 with 30 local children, ages 10-18, in all roles. Designer: Jaime Wood, award-winning theatrical design student at Iowa State University. Director: Kimberly Chelf, accomplished actor & director, also from ISU.

Cedar Rapids Opera Theatre
Cedar Rapids, Iowa
Grant funding supports Cedar Rapids Opera Theatre for performances of “The Magic Flute” (January 11 & 13, 2008) and Young Artist performances of “The Night Harry Stopped Smoking” (up to 12 performances in Cedar Rapids Community Schools, local hospitals, and the Iowa Children’s Museum during the week of January 7, 2008).

The Arts Farm
Cedar Rapids, Iowa
Grant funding supports a monthly performance and workshop series in Cedar Rapids. Artists will include Switchback, Orquesta Alto Maiz, Kevin Burt & The Instigators, Flying Foot Forum, and Marc Bamuthi Joseph. Performances and workshops will be open to the public but targeted to at-risk students and families.

Civic Center of Greater Des Moines
Des Moines, Iowa
The Civic Center will partner with Callanan Middle School’s eighth-grade class to create and implement a cross-curriculum study of the “Underground Railroad” as part of Applause! series presentation of “Freedom Bound.” Project partners will include the African American Historical Museum and Cultural Center of Iowa, Historic Jordan House and the Langston Hughes Players.

Metro Arts Alliance of Greater Des Moines
Des Moines, Iowa
Green Arts is a new project that will provide resources and training to help Central Iowa artists practice greater environmental stewardship in their lives and work.  Grant funding will allow the project to identify and employ artists to conduct free public arts activities that use green resources and promote conservation and environmental responsibility.

Waldorf Community Artist Series
Forest City, Iowa
With grant funding from the Iowa Arts Council, the Waldorf Community Artist Series will present three concerts in Spring 2008. They are: Des Moines Opera Co.  “Don Pasquale” Feb. 4, 2008; Ruby Hinds – a tribute to Marian Anderson Feb. 25, 2008; and North Iowa Choral Society March 30, 2008.

Kent Newman
Des Moines, Iowa
Iowa Arts Council funding supports the post-production phase of a DVD of live performances and interviews previously produced during “Homegrown in Iowa: Americana Roots Music From the Heartland.” Ten Iowa musicians are featured, including Bo Ramsey, Dave Moore, and Greg Brown as well as photographer Sandy Dyas and selected photographs from her book Down to the River: Portraits of Iowa Musicians.

Westminster Presbyterian Church
Des Moines, Iowa
Iowa Arts Council grant funding will allow Westminster Presbyterian Church to present Benjamin Britten’s choral masterwork, “The War Requiem.” There will be free performances in Des Moines and Grinnell in April 2008. The project will involve multiple partner arts organizations, engage more than 300 professional, amateur and student artists, and is expected to serve up to 3,000 audience members.

Project Art, University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics
Iowa City, Iowa
University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics Project Art Program will collaborate with calligrapher Cheryl Jacobsen to create commissioned artwork incorporating the phrases, thoughts and poems of patients, visitors and staff that describe the experience of healing. Iowa Arts Council grant funding supports the project, Illuminated Voices, which will consist of four paintings for display in a public space.

Nora Garda Marcos
Iowa City, Iowa
Grant funding supports Danzas Folkloricas Argentinas, a series of dance workshops to be presented in schools and community centers throughout the state of Iowa in 2008. It will introduce Iowans to the rich cultural dance traditions of Argentina. Participants will read stories, listen to music, watch videos of professional dancers, and most importantly, learn and perform the dances themselves.

MacNider Art Museum
Mason City, Iowa
Grant will assist in funding performances for free two-day Arts Festival in Mason City (June 7,8, 2008) featuring multicultural programming to include traditional music and dance of Laos and Southeast Asia, Africa, Mexico and the Middle East, among others.

Pearson Lakes Art Center (Lakes Art Center)
Okoboji, Iowa
With this grant funding, Lydia Pense & Cold Blood, the San Francisco jazz/rock horn band, will conduct a three-day residency with music students from Dickinson County. Workshops will take place on the first two days. A public performance will occur on the third day. Students will be invited to perform with the group.

Merrymakers Association
Omaha, Nebraska
Iowa Arts Council grant funding supports quality, musical programs with seniors living in care centers and low income housing. Rostered IAC musicians Bill Connet and Becky Livermore and other contracted Merrymakers professional musicians will bring songs, memories and laughter to the elderly in the Des Moines area that have limited resources to attend off-site performances and art experiences.

Art Educators of Iowa
Perry, Iowa
With support from this grant, Art Educators of Iowa will promote excellence in visual arts education in Iowa by setting up a Visual Arts display at the Iowa Hall of Pride, which will feature the art work and story of Iowa’s winning All-State art students.

Ballet Quad Cities
Rock Island, Illinois
Grant funding will allow Ballet Quad Cities to collaborate with three nationally-recognized choreographers and three professional pianists that will result in three new contemporary ballets premiering at Davenport’s historic Capitol Theatre in February 2008.

WVIK 90.3 FM, Augustana Public Radio
Rock Island, Illinois
WVIK is this region’s broadcast forum for the arts – creating, presenting and sustaining local arts programming. The hallmarks of WVIK’s local programming include independently produced shows hosted by well-respected artists and radio talents in this area: Bruce Carter (visual arts), Roald Tweet and Faye Clow (literary arts) and Don Wooten. Grant funding will support this programming.

The Iowa Arts Council is a division of the Iowa Department of Cultural Affairs and works to enrich the quality of life for Iowans through support of the arts. Funding for the Iowa Arts Council and its programs is provided by the State of Iowa and the National Endowment for the Arts. Please visit www.iowaartscouncil.org for more information.