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Iowa Department of Cultural Affairs distributes CARES Act funds to cultural and humanities nonprofits

Jun 3, 2020

The Iowa Department of Cultural Affairs announced today that it has awarded more than $1.1 million dollars in 173 grants statewide. This includes $923,372 for emergency relief and another $178,000 in humanities grants to help Iowa cultural organizations rebound from the financial impacts of the coronavirus pandemic.

Funding for the emergency relief grants was made possible by the federal Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act. The Iowa Department of Cultural Affairs distributed CARES Act funds through its partnerships with the National Endowment for the Arts, National Endowment for the Humanities, and Arts Midwest.

The grants are intended to support ongoing cultural projects, preserve jobs and keep the doors open at thousands of cultural organizations that boost the economy and creative life of communities.

“This is good news for Iowa’s arts, cultural and humanities organizations, which have been deeply affected by the pandemic,” Iowa Department of Cultural Affairs Director Chris Kramer said. “We’re so grateful for the unanimous support of Iowa’s congressional delegation for these funds, which help keep Iowans employed and communities vibrant.”

The list of grant recipients includes art, history and children’s museums; arboretums and botanical gardens; aquariums and science centers; performing arts venues, vocal music groups and theaters; historical societies and historic homes; film and media organizations; and arts and cultural heritage festivals. Here are just a few of the recipients:

  • The Felix Adler Children's Discovery Center in Clinton, which provides interactive exhibits and educational programs based in science, literacy, art and culture.
  • Mid America Museum of Aviation and Transportation in Sioux City, which preserves and shares the area's aviation and transportation history.
  • New Ground Theatre in Davenport, which offers contemporary and original theater.
  • Iowa Rock 'N Roll Music Association in Arnolds Park, which celebrates the legacy and future of Iowa rock 'n roll.
  • The Tai Village Inc. in Des Moines, which preserves the Tai Dam culture by hosting the annual CelebrAsian and Tai Village Festivals and operating the Robert D. Ray Welcome Center.
  • Of the total 173 grants, 149 were awarded to Iowa arts, cultural and humanities organizations for emergency relief to support their operations and retain staff. The grants ranged from $1,000 to $18,000 based on the size of the recipient organization’s annual budget.

Applicants cited a range of financial losses stemming from cancellations and closures. Many cultural organizations reported losing out on revenue from admissions and gift-shop sales, as well as canceled classes, programs and fundraisers.

A recent survey conducted by Americans for the Arts showed that more than 340 Iowa arts and cultural organizations collectively lost at least $16.3 million since the coronavirus outbreak began. Another study, by the Iowa Economic Development Authority and University of Northern Iowa, revealed that arts, entertainment and recreation were among the hardest hit segments of the nonprofit industry in Iowa.

“Here in Iowa in a typical year, the creative sector accounts for more than 42,000 jobs,” Director Kramer said. “These CARES Act grants will help one of our state’s largest industries rebound in the weeks and months ahead.”

The Iowa Department of Cultural Affairs also partnered with the National Endowment for the Humanities to award an additional 24 grants to Iowa humanities organizations for special projects and programs. Here are a few highlights from the list:

  • The Museum of Danish America in Elk Horn will continue to offer its online programs and develop new digital content, including a virtual Midsummer event.
  • The Dubuque County Historical Society and National Mississippi River Museum and Aquarium will develop a safe and socially distanced learning environment for visitors.
  • The Pella Historical Society and Museums will preserve the community’s Dutch history and culture through a project to archive and catalogue its collections.
  • The Carrie Lane Chapman Catt Girlhood Home and National 19th Amendment Society in Charles City will convert a year of planned events into social and digital media content to celebrate the 19th Amendment centennial.

In all, the department received 213 applications for these grants and made awards in 49 Iowa counties.

This marks the second and third round of grants from the Iowa Arts & Culture Emergency Relief Fund. During the first round, in April, the department awarded a total of $191,000 in grants to Iowa artists, creative workers and nonprofit arts organizations.

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.