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State Historical Society of Iowa

$2.1 Million Art, Film and History Grants Awarded to Iowans

Jun 28, 2019

DES MOINES – The Iowa Department of Cultural Affairs today announced it has awarded more than $2.1 million in grants for art, film, history and culture. The state agency also designated or re-designated 22 communities as Iowa Great Places or Cultural and Entertainment Districts.

“Iowa is becoming known as a culturally vibrant state with world-class arts and cultural offerings, where engaging experiences revitalize communities with unique characteristics and local charm,” said Chris Kramer, director of the Iowa Department of Cultural Affairs.

Art, film, history and culture are vital factors that business leaders, families and millennials consider when choosing where to set up shop or settle down to live, work and play. Cultural programs help boost the quality of life and promote economic growth.

To support those efforts statewide, the Iowa Department of Cultural Affairs has awarded more than 200 grants and designations that will serve as catalysts for new community initiatives, creative projects, cultural organizations and small businesses.

This year the department added Greenlight Grants for film and media projects.

“These film and media projects feature interesting stories while also showcasing Iowa,” Kramer said. “These projects represent Iowa as a place that values the creative sector as an economic driver, contributing to a productive business climate and a diversified economy.”

The $2,107,102 in grant funding announced today is made through several programs overseen by the department’s divisions: the Iowa Arts Council, the State Historical Society of Iowa and Produce Iowa, the state office of film and media production. This year the department received a slight increase in funding from state and federal officials, a reflection of widespread support for Iowa art, film, history and culture. Grants announced in this release are funded with appropriations from the Iowa Legislature and through funding as a state arts agency from the National Endowment for the Arts.

These grant programs support community projects, artist-led initiatives, historic preservation, cultural education and more. The following summary is divided into three broad categories.

Arts, Culture & Film Grants

Multiple grant programs: $1,569,102

This year, the Iowa Arts Council awarded $1,429,102 in grants to 160 projects, organizations and communities – all funded by appropriations from the Iowa legislature and the National Endowment for the Arts. Here are just a few examples:

  • The Cedar River Complex in Osage received $10,000 to partner with the Cedar Summerstock Theater, a summer program for college theater students, to produce “Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat” at the Krapek Family Fine Arts Center.
  • The Iowa Ceramics Center and Glass Studio in Cedar Rapids received $5,400 to host the international artist collective CREATURA to lead workshops to help recent immigrants tell their stories through art.
  • CreatorsLab in West Branch received $10,000 to develop ArtFarm, a new festival in rural eastern Iowa that enlists regional artists to create a traveling production that promotes a more just, equitable and inclusive world.
  • The Warren Morrow Latin Music Festival in Des Moines received $10,000 to support Iowa’s only all-ages Latin music festival, which celebrates the rhythms, instruments and beats from Latin America and the Spanish Caribbean.
  • BCLUW Middle School in Union received $4,750 to bring Grammy-winning songwriter Monte Selby to work with students to write and perform songs about local veterans.

Greenlight Grants

The department is excited to award $140,000 in four inaugural Greenlight Grants for film and digital media productions that tell Iowa stories and will be produced in Iowa. This new initiative fulfills a need for the creative media production industry and is administered through a collaboration between the Iowa Arts Council and Produce Iowa, the state office of film and media production.

The Greenlight Grants can be used to produce features, shorts, pilot episodes or proof-of-concept videos to help Iowans propel a script to the screen. Eligible projects must be ready for production, contain excellent content that advances Iowa’s brand, and demonstrate public value.

“Our goal with this program is to create and sustain more jobs, retain filmmakers in Iowa and tell more stories that are important to our state,” Produce Iowa Executive Producer Liz Gilman said. “We want to support homegrown Iowa projects that create media production opportunities for all Iowans and Iowa small businesses. It's an exciting moment. We’re eager to help kick-start film and media projects in Iowa.”

  • Andrew Sherburne of Iowa City has been awarded $50,000 to support the production of "The Workshop," a cinematic exploration of the people and traditions at one of Iowa's most famous institutions, the Iowa's Writers Workshop.
  • Colleen Krantz of Adel has been awarded $30,000 to develop “Complete Bull,” a narrative television drama about a young woman trying to make her way in the world of modern agriculture.
  • Scott Siepker of Des Moines has been awarded $20,000 to support post-production of “Kinnick: The Definitive Documentary,” a documentary about the life of football legend Nile Kinnick and the stadium that bears his name.
  • John Richard of Iowa City has been awarded $40,000 to support the production of "The Iowa Mountaineers," a documentary that will use old films to bring to life archival slides, journals, and audio recordings about an Iowa club that pioneered inclusive outdoor education.

View the full list of grants and learn more about the following Iowa Arts Council programs:

History Grants

Multiple grant programs: $538,000

The State Historical Society of Iowa awarded $538,000 in grants for research and projects supported by the Historical Resource Development Program, funded through Resource Enhancement and Protection (REAP), to preserve museum collections and country schools, invest in communities through historic preservation, and promote Iowa history. Here are a few examples:

  • The Taylor County Historical Society in Bedford received $50,000 to hire an architect, engineer and contractor to stabilize and repair the Taylor County Round Barn, which had to be closed out of fear the roof would fail and collapse after its cupola shifted.
  • The Museum of Danish America in Elk Horn received $45,300 to preserve and share 75 boxes of club ledgers, charters and membership records donated by the Danish Sisterhood of America. The information will be especially valuable to genealogists and other researchers.
  • The Sawmill Museum in Clinton has been awarded $4,750 to hire a conservator to restore an oil portrait of local lumber baron W.T. Joyce and a mural depicting Clinton’s 1890s riverfront.
  • Fremont County Historical Society has been awarded $5,262 for repairs from water damage at the museum building, which houses artifacts and genealogy records.
  • Winneshiek County Conservation has been awarded $5,000 to replace a section of the roof at the historic Frankville Stone School.
  • Clayton County Conservation has been awarded $1,324 to research, design, print and install interpretive panels at the Osborne Schoolhouse.
  • Historian Steven Green has been awarded a $1,000 grant to research "Noshing in the Hawkeye State: Food and Foodways in the Construction of Iowa's Jewish Communities, 1880-1940."

View the full list of grants and learn more about the following State Historical Society of Iowa grant programs:

Community Designations

Iowa Great Places and Cultural & Entertainment Districts

The Iowa Department of Cultural Affairs designates communities as Iowa Great Places to support new and existing infrastructure that cultivates unique and authentic qualities of neighborhoods, communities and regions in Iowa. Similarly, the agency designates communities as Cultural and Entertainment Districts to recognize well-identified, walkable, mixed-use areas of a city or county where a high concentration of cultural facilities serves as an anchor. Overall, the state now recognizes 40 Iowa Great Places communities and eight Cultural and Entertainment Districts, including the following new additions:

Seventeen Iowa Great Places were re-designated and the following two are new additions:

  • Lake View has been designated an Iowa Great Place, due in part to recreational opportunities at Black Hawk Lake and its downtown retail and business core. These assets are at the center of the city's vision plan, which includes the development of a community center, downtown improvement projects and a data-driven lake improvement project.
  • The Clive Greenbelt has been designated an Iowa Great Place with a master plan that was developed over 18 months with significant input from local and regional sources. The plan’s priorities include flood management and water-quality improvements; habitat improvements; trails and connections; recreation, arts, science, education and equity opportunities; and policies and partnerships to protect the natural environment. The following three communities are new Cultural & Entertainment Districts:
  • Historic Valley Junction in West Des Moines has been designated a Cultural and Entertainment District due to its year-round programs and events, including Gallery Nights, Valley Junction Arts Festival, Cinco de Mayo Celebration and Music in the Junction. Other notable assets include Tallgrass Theatre, Val Air Ballroom and Jordan House Museum. The Phenix School Apartments and Studios offer 17 affordable apartments along with studio space for artists. Overall, the district is home to 97 retail, 52 service and 15 food and beverage businesses.
  • Mason City’s newly designated Cultural and Entertainment District includes the city’s Main Street and historic district, both of which provide opportunities to experience a diverse array of art, culture and history, as well as entertainment and educational resources. Highlights include the Charles H. MacNider Art Museum, Mason City Public Library, Music Man Square, Historic Park Inn Hotel, Mason City Community Theater and Stebens Children’s Theater.
  • Mount Vernon’s newly designated Cultural and Entertainment District is anchored by the First Street Community Center and Cornell College. The district includes 11 performance spaces, 22 arts and arts-related businesses, 17 food/drink/lodging establishments and more than 20 specialty shops. Highlights include the Mount Vernon Visitors Center, Memorial Park and a model of the solar system created by local artist Dennis Patton. View the full list of new and re-designated communities and learn more about the Iowa Great Places and Cultural & Entertainment District program.

View the full list of new and re-designated communities and learn more about the Iowa Great Places and Cultural & Entertainment District program.

The Iowa Department of Cultural Affairs and its three divisions – the Iowa Arts Council, Produce Iowa - State Office of Media Production and the State Historical Society of Iowa – empower Iowa to build and sustain culturally vibrant communities by connecting Iowans to the people, places and points of pride that define our state. The department’s work enables Iowa to be recognized as a state that fosters creativity and serves as a catalyst for innovation where the stories of Iowa are preserved and communicated to connect past, present and future generations.