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Gov. Reynolds and Iowa Department of Cultural Affairs announce $2.3 million in grant awards

Gov. Kim Reynolds and the Iowa Department of Cultural Affairs announced more than $2.3 million in grants have been awarded to 191 Iowa organizations and individuals working in arts, culture, history, humanities, film and media in 69 communities.

The grants are designed to support creative placemaking, a strategy that centers arts and culture in community and economic development. The funding supports Iowa’s creative workforce, revitalizes historic districts, launches public art projects, advances film stories “from script to screen” – and more.

“Across the state, Iowa’s cultural and community leaders are full of big ideas to transform spaces and places through the arts, historic preservation, and film and media projects,” Iowa Department of Cultural Affairs Director Chris Kramer said. “Creative Iowans are working every day to make their cities and towns more culturally vibrant places that attract residents and visitors alike."

Cultural attractions – including museums, performing arts venues, science centers, gardens, film and music festivals – draw in visitors and engage their communities through arts and culture. The new grants support cultural destinations that collectively offer more than six million days of engagement every year.

The grants are administered by the Iowa Department of Cultural Affairs’ divisions: the Iowa Arts Council; interim Iowa Humanities Council; State Historical Society of Iowa and State Historic Preservation Office of Iowa; and Produce Iowa, the state office of film and media production.

Funding is made possible through annual appropriations from the Iowa Legislature and through state-federal partnerships with the National Endowment for the Arts and the National Endowment for the Humanities. Additional funding comes from the nonprofit State Historical Society of Iowa, Inc., and through the state’s Resource Enhancement and Protection Act, which the legislature enacted to provide funds to preserve, conserve, interpret, enhance and educate the public about Iowa’s historical resources.

The department also supports 60 of Iowa’s leading arts and cultural organizations as Cultural Leadership Partners, which maintain high standards, attract tourists, generate economic activity and sustain high-quality jobs.

The grants announced today are divided into four broad categories:

Arts & Culture
The Iowa Arts Council awarded $1,550,979 in grants to 146 projects in 51 Iowa communities.

These grants support a variety of creative placemaking initiatives that combine arts and culture with community development. In addition to the annual grants announced today, the Artist Catalyst Grants, Creative Places Project Grants and School Arts Experience Grants are now offered quarterly, and the next application deadline is Aug. 1.

Here are just a few of the new grant recipients:

  • William Penn University in Oskaloosa will bring world-renowned puppet-maker Andrew Kim to the community for an artist residency, where he will work with students to create giant lantern puppets for the Oskaloosa Lighted Christmas Parade.
  • The Sioux City Symphony will stage free, interactive “Carnegie Hall Link Up” concerts at the historic Orpheum Theatre. Through in-person concerts and a new streaming service, the symphony plans to serve as many as 8,000 children from 40 regional elementary schools, many in rural and underserved communities.
  • The Youth Art Team in Waterloo will carry out a project to serve blind and visually impaired youth in the community. Approximately 50 artists will create two-dimensional artworks using special techniques, providing sighted and visually impaired students opportunities to learn and make art together.
  • The Cedar Rapids Opera will commission and produce a new children’s opera, "Charlie and the Wolf," which will tour a dozen local elementary schools and premiere as part of the organization's Juneteenth celebrations in 2023.
  • Creston Community High School will bring 70 students to Mainframe Studios in Des Moines, as part of its "Create Arts as a Career" workshop. The program is designed to expose rural youth to careers in the arts and creative fields and to help students see that creative people can live, create and thrive in Iowa.

Learn more about the Iowa Arts Council grants:

Artist Catalyst Grants
Art Project Grants
Creative Places Project Grants
Cultural Capacity Building Grants
Cultural Leadership Partners
Iowa Artist Fellowships
School Arts Experience Grants

Film & Media
Produce Iowa, the state office of media production, awarded $120,000 through three Greenlight Grants for film and digital media productions that will be produced in Iowa.

Now in its fourth year, the program encourages Iowa filmmakers to build a more robust film and media industry in Iowa. The grants can be used to produce features, shorts, pilot episodes or proof-of-concept videos.

  • Chris Filippone of Iowa City received support for a feature-length documentary about the small railroad town of Pacific Junction in southwestern Iowa, where locals have chosen to rebuild their homes and community after a catastrophic flood in 2019. Addressing themes of rural decline and climate change, the documentary is an intimate portrait of a small town’s struggles, hopes and dreams – and a reflection on its past, present and future.
  • Antoinette Lavalle of Des Moines received support for “Peck,” a feature-length narrative film about a young woman addressing her mental health in the late 19th century. When her mother and father urge her to seek help, she begins a journey toward independence and love.
  • Spencer Smith of Des Moines received support for “The Diane Schofield Cold Case,” a short proof-of-concept documentary that investigates the case’s effect on Iowa legislation about funding for criminal investigations. The film also spotlights the community of novice sleuthers who have bonded over this case through the “Justice for Diane Schofield” Facebook group.

Learn more about the Greenlight Grants.

Humanities
In this funding round, the department’s interim Iowa Humanities Council awarded $60,831 to eight humanities projects through the Humanities Partnership Grant program, funded by the National Endowment for the Humanities.

Since 2020, the department’s humanities council has invested in programs that foster discussion, promote civic engagement and learning, and support the recovery of the humanities sector across Iowa.

Here are a few examples of the humanities grants announced today:

  • The University of Iowa Stanley Museum of Art in Iowa City will open later this summer with a dedication ceremony and series of celebratory events presenting the inaugural exhibition, “Homecoming,” illustrating the importance of the Stanley’s world-class collection and encouraging visitors to envision new futures in art.
  • Ballet Des Moines will present "Gravity on Tour," a new ballet paired with interactive STEM experiences from Iowa State University’s virtual reality lab and a portable planetarium. The free experiences exemplify how music and movement can make scientific concepts more accessible to audiences of all ages.
  • The Iowa Newspaper Foundation will encourage impactful storytelling of Iowa communities by providing opportunities for journalism students to learn how to engage their communities, receive feedback on drafted publications, and publish their work in local newspapers.

Learn more about the Humanities Grants.

History
The State Historical Society of Iowa awarded $553,912 in 24 grants in 20 communities for research projects as well as other initiatives supported by the Historical Resource Development Program.

Here are just a few examples:

  • The Museum of Danish America in Elk Horn received $25,000 to transform its visual storage space to better house its collection and create a seamless integration of 500 Danish ceramics.
  • The Vesterheim Norwegian-American Museum in Decorah received $50,000 to restore the masonry and brick assembly of its 1870s building.
  • The Friends of Historic Sharon High School and Community Center, Inc., in Iowa City received $5,000 to develop a plan to preserve, restore and repurpose a historic two-room schoolhouse in Sharon Center.

In addition, the historical society awarded 10 grants, at $1,500 apiece, to support new research and writing in Iowa history. This program is funded by the State Historical Society of Iowa, Inc.

Learn more about the following historical grant programs:

Country School Grants
Historical Resource Development Program Grants
Research Grants for Authors