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Iowa Department of Cultural Affairs awards $1 million in grants to market the return of arts and culture

Nov 5, 2021

The department today announced that 118 arts and cultural groups in 47 Iowa communities will receive funding through the Iowa Arts & Culture Marketing Grant program. The department awarded a total of $1 million in grants, in amounts ranging from $1,500 to $18,000.

The new, one-time grants were created with federal CARES Act funds that Gov. Kim Reynolds allocated to the department to provide economic relief to Iowa organizations that have been challenged by the Covid-19 pandemic.

The state arts and cultural agency developed a related promotional campaign and toolkit, based on input from statewide arts and culture leaders, to encourage Iowans to “Re-imagine, Re-engage, Reconnect” with arts and cultural experiences.

“These marketing grants and the ‘Re-imagine’ promotional campaign will help Iowa’s arts and cultural sector welcome visitors back during the holiday season, when many organizations rely on increased attendance and revenue to make ends meet,” Iowa Department of Cultural Affairs Director Chris Kramer said. “This statewide investment will also help boost major exhibits, performances and events now and into the new year.”

The list of recipients, dispersed throughout 37 Iowa counties, includes local arts councils, theaters and historical attractions, as well as some of the state’s largest museums, art centers and performing arts venues. Here are just a few:

  • Ames: The Ames History Museum will launch a campaign to promote the safe resumption of key museum events and its new exhibits, which highlight notable Black and female pioneers in local history.
  • Clinton: The Sawmill Museum in Clinton will redouble its efforts to reach its target audience – fans of the National Parks and travelers of the Great River Road and Lincoln Highway – through advertisements promoting its return to regular visiting hours.
  • Council Bluffs: Preserve Council Bluffs will bring back its popular Historic Homes for the Holidays Tour and produce advertisements to help residents in a five-county region reconnect with the organization’s work to promote the area’s cultural heritage and historic preservation.
  • Davenport: The German American Heritage Center will carry out a marketing campaign to encourage families and other visitors to return to the museum to rekindle traditions and make memories during the holiday season.
  • Des Moines: Mainframe Studios will use print and radio advertisements, an online directory and the studios’ First Friday events to promote artist-made gifts and encourage the public to buy from local makers and entrepreneurs.
  • Dubuque: The City of Dubuque will launch the first phase of a comprehensive marketing plan and tourism strategy, in partnership with Travel Dubuque, to showcase the variety of creativity, events, venues, and cultural experiences in the community.
  • LeMars: The LeMars Arts Council will launch a print and social-media marketing campaign to welcome back visitors to the LeMars Art Center and other cultural attractions in the area.
  • Swedesburg: The Swedish Heritage Society Foundation will update its signs and publicize its special events in December, which is usually the museum’s busiest time of year as travelers stop in to buy traditional Swedish holiday foods and gifts.

The return to arts and culture marketing grants were created to help Iowa’s arts and cultural organizations publicize their activities and new protocols they’ve established to ensure safe and healthy cultural experiences for visitors and audiences who are re-engaging in arts and cultural activities across the state.

Through the grant opportunity and marketing campaign, the department is encouraging all Iowans to:

  • Renew their love of performances, film, museums and all of the arts and historical attractions that make our communities culturally vibrant.
  • Re-engage with Iowa arts, culture, film, history and the humanities to support Iowa’s growing creative workforce.
  • Reconnect with arts, history, film and cultural experiences for personal well-being and to strengthen communities.
    In a typical year, Iowa’s creative sector contributes $4.2 billion to the state’s economy, employing more than 43,000 creative workers across more than 5,000 businesses statewide. In 2020, Iowa’s nonprofit arts and culture sector lost millions in revenue and at least 4,500 arts, entertainment and recreation jobs, stemming from event cancellations and closures due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

For a complete list of Iowa Arts & Culture Marketing Grant recipients, visit the Iowa Department of Cultural Affairs website.

For more information about the Re-imagine campaign, visit

The Iowa Department of Cultural Affairs and its divisions – the State Historical Society of Iowa, including the State Historic Preservation Office; the Iowa Arts Council; the interim Iowa Humanities Council; and Produce Iowa, the state office of media production – empower Iowans to build and sustain culturally vibrant communities by connecting to the people, places and points of pride that define our state.