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State Historical Society of Iowa

Iowa Arts Summit helps strengthen communities statewide

Aug 4, 2020

At the virtual Iowa Arts Summit this Friday, Aug. 7, artists, arts educators, creative entrepreneurs and nonprofit leaders can learn how to strengthen their communities through the arts, even in the midst of this year’s extraordinary challenges.

The Iowa Arts Summit is offered biennially by the Iowa Arts Council, a division of the Iowa Department of Cultural Affairs. Due to COVID-19, this year’s statewide conference is shifting to an online format to help Iowans share ideas and connect with one another even when they’re physically apart.

The summit’s lineup of national and state experts will focus on topics that are both timely and timeless. Participants will hear from performing arts leaders who have adapted their programming during the pandemic and learn how the arts have helped to build resiliency in communities from Marshalltown to Malvern. Other sessions will help attendees with writing business plans, advocating for the arts, and strategic planning. Summit speakers will also address the role of the arts in advancing efforts to promote inclusion, equity and racial justice.

“As a significant contributor to Iowa's economy, Iowa’s creative workforce benefits from sharing best practices and working together,” Iowa Department of Cultural Affairs Director Chris Kramer said. "The Iowa Arts Summit is a chance for artists and arts leaders to refresh their skills while gaining inspiration and ideas to take back to their community, organization or creative business.

“As we look forward, we know that the arts and artists will be essential to Iowa’s recovery from this pandemic. Communities across the state can benefit from the creative problem-solving skills that Iowa’s artists and cultural leaders are uniquely positioned to offer.”

Registration for this year's summit is $15 in advance or $20 on Friday after 8 a.m. Summit attendees can register for the full day or for a single session.

This year’s list of presenters includes:

Mary Anne Carter, chairwoman of the National Endowment for the Arts, with pre-recorded remarks on the NEA and Iowa Arts Council's efforts to help artists rebound during the pandemic.

Jay Dick, senior director of state and local government affairs for Americans for the Arts, on how to advocate for investments in the arts and arts education.

Linda Harrison, executive director of the Newark Museum of Art, on how museums can unify diverse communities and effect transformative change.

Adia Morris Swanger, professional development and operations coordinator for Springboard for the Arts, on business planning for artists and arts organizations.

Nina Simon, co-founder of OF/BY/FOR ALL and former director of the Santa Cruz Museum of Art and History, on using the pandemic’s disruptions as an opportunity for long-term growth.

The summit program also features the biennial Governor’s Arts Awards Ceremony, when Gov. Kim Reynolds will honor several Iowans – one individual and two organizations – for their significant contributions to the arts in Iowa.

For more details about the program and registration, please visit

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.