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Iowa Arts Council Delivers Art-Based Solutions to Civic Challenges

Oct 10, 2018

The Iowa Arts Council is offering grants up to $10,000 plus assistance from Iowa's three regent universities as part of its Arts Build Communities program, which is open to Iowa nonprofits, schools and tribal governments located in Iowa. The deadline to submit applications is Nov. 1, 2018.

"Many Iowa communities face challenges that affect their quality of life and need to bring people together from many different disciplines to find the best answers," said Liesl Voges of the Iowa Arts Council. "This program does that by bringing artists into the discussion and developing art-based solutions that make our communities stronger and better places to live and work."

For example, Voges points to a recent project in Waverly that brought in Iowa State University to help launch a program that fights hunger. Local students performed at a soup supper to raise money for the local food bank and designed sculptural donation receptacles to encourage residents to drop off food at sites around town.

In Van Buren County, the University of Iowa helped the Villages Folk School honor the area's farming heritage by designing and installing a sculpture at the county fairgrounds that tells the stories of several area farmers.

Last year, the River Music Experience in Davenport, the George Daily Auditorium in Oskaloosa and Main Street Ottumwa each received $10,000 in funding from the Iowa Arts Council and support from Iowa's regent universities for the following projects:

  • The River Music Experience partnered with the University of Iowa to distribute surveys to audiences members, music venues and local artists and performers about the Quad-Cities music scene and the needs of the community and musicians.
  • The George Daily Auditorium worked with Iowa State University to collect historical materials and archives for a special project that encouraged county-wide community conversations through family history, community history and theater.
  • Main Street Ottumwa worked with the University of Iowa Northern Iowa to create "Patchwork," an art project that addressed community diversity by featuring short video clips of more than 60 community members of various ages and ethnicities projected onto Canteen Alley.

"These projects have a relatively small investment but they do a really good job of improving quality of life," Voges said. "That's important for not only the communities but also Iowa artists and organizations who are building relationships with civic organizations and audiences."

Arts Build Communities Program Overview

The Arts Build Communities programs initiative:

  • Showcases artists and arts leaders as engaged and innovative partners in the social sphere.
  • Connects artists and arts leaders with public entities and community organizations outside the arts sector.
  • Supports projects and programs that are designed to address and affect positive change in relation to one or more specific areas of community needs (examples: health, transportation, environmental, social justice, etc.).

Grant recipients receive:

  • $10,000 for expenses, including artist fees, materials, supplies and marketing expenses.
  • Advisory and technical assistance from Iowa Arts Council staff and university faculty/staff to design and implement projects.
  • Support from university students on a project-by-project basis to help design and implement projects.

Eligible applicants include:

  • 501(c)3 nonprofit organizations incorporated and physically located in Iowa.
  • K-12 schools physically located in Iowa.
  • Unit of local, county or federally recognized tribal government physically located in Iowa.

The deadline to submit applications is Nov. 1, 2018.

Funding for the Arts Build Communities program is made possible by an annual appropriation from the Iowa Legislature to the Iowa Arts Council, a division of the Iowa Department of Cultural Affairs, and by the National Endowment for the Arts, a federal agency.

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.