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Iowa Department of Cultural Affairs announces new investments in creative places

Oct 28, 2021

A new art and civic center, a historic railroad depot, and a rural sculpture park were among six projects awarded a total of $950,000 in grants, the Iowa Department of Cultural Affairs announced Friday during a statewide conference on building creative communities.

The awards were made through the department’s Iowa Great Places program, which recognizes communities that have developed clear visions for the future that make the most of authentic local art, culture and history. Funding for the program comes from the Iowa Legislature through the Rebuild Iowa Infrastructure Fund.

The grants were announced during the department’s annual Iowa Creative Places Exchange, held virtually on Oct. 22. Representatives from nearly 40 communities who are designated Iowa Great Places and Iowa Cultural & Entertainment Districts participated in the virtual event, which was organized by the Iowa Arts Council.

“Creative placemaking is our community development strategy for Iowa communities to feature their authentic qualities through new or rehabbed anchor cultural attractions and welcoming features," Iowa Department of Cultural Affairs Director Chris Kramer said. "The Iowa Great Places program incentivizes communities to realize their vision in tangible ways to attract and retain businesses, promote tourism and boost the quality of life for residents of all ages.”

The department has awarded grants for the following six projects:

City of Charles City (Floyd County)
Relocation and Renovation of a Historic Railroad Depot
The City of Charles City will renovate a 107-year-old historic railroad depot, following its relocation to a new site in fall 2021. The renovated depot will serve as a trailhead for the Charley Western Trailway, a venue for meetings and a gateway to a future railroad museum.

City of Clive (Polk County)
Clive Greenbelt
In addition to a renovated community center, the Clive Greenbelt will be enhanced by new artwork, an outdoor performance space and landmarks that reference the city’s past – all along the recreational trail that connects to other amenities and a historic waterway.

City of Lake View (Sac County)
Lake View Community Center
The City of Lake View (pop. 1,113) will build a new community center to replace a beloved historic ballroom that closed almost 20 years ago. Community leaders envision a venue for social and business functions, as well as a flourishing cultural hub through a partnership with the Lake View Arts Council.

City of Manning (Carroll County)
Art is Refreshing
The City of Manning will honor the community’s history and agricultural heritage by creating a new sculpture and interactive art installation at Trestle Park. Plans for new murals are also in the works.

City of Marshalltown (Marshall County)
Marshalltown Arts & Civic Center
As the home to a priceless collection of Impressionist and Post-Impressionist paintings, the Marshalltown Arts & Civic Center will serve as a statewide attraction, a local cultural anchor and a catalyst for the development of the Linn Creek District, which will tie together sports and recreation opportunities, new housing and reinvigorated businesses.

City of West Union (Fayette County)
Gateway to Recreation: West Union to Echo Valley State Park Trail
The West Union to Echo Valley State Park Trail project will connect cultural and artistic venues and open up opportunities for environmental education. The project plan includes an art station and pavilion, along with public artwork along a portion of the trail.

To date, the State of Iowa has invested nearly $22 million in projects throughout the state over the past 16 years, leveraging millions more in local and private investment.

Looking forward, the Iowa Arts Council is currently accepting applications through Nov. 22 for its annual Strengthening Communities grant program. These grants support small-town organizations that focus on youth development, healthy living and social responsibility, and the funding can be used for costs related to facility construction, renovation and maintenance.

More information about the Iowa Great Places and Strengthening Communities programs are available on the Iowa Department of Cultural Affairs website at

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.