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Iowa Department of Cultural Affairs distributes emergency grants for artists and nonprofits

Apr 24, 2020

The Iowa Department of Cultural Affairs (IDCA) announced today that it has awarded $191,000 in grants to Iowa artists and small nonprofit arts organizations who are reeling from the financial impacts of the coronavirus pandemic. The first-round relief grants were limited to artists and small nonprofit arts organizations.

The list of recipients includes community theaters, choirs, youth arts groups, a documentary filmmaker and a blues musician who has entertained Iowa audiences for more than 40 years.

In all,156 Iowa artists and creative workers each received a $1,000 award to support their artistic career. In addition, 14 Iowa nonprofit arts organizations each received a $2,500 grant to support their operations. The IDCA received a total of 285 applications in this funding round.

Applicants cited a range of financial losses resulting from canceled performances,
festivals, residencies, commissions, teaching opportunities and more. Organizations lost revenue from admissions and gift-shop sales, as well as canceled classes, programs and fundraising events.

“Iowa’s creative professionals and cultural organizations have been deeply impacted by the current crisis,” Iowa Department of Cultural Affairs Director Chris Kramer said. “Our industry is incredibly resourceful and resilient, but with so many revenue sources threatened at once, it’s extraordinarily challenging for the creative workforce to navigate.”

Kramer added, “The economic loss to arts organizations is estimated at over $4.5 billion nationwide. Here in Iowa in a typical year, the creative sector accounts for 2.3 percent of our economy and more than 42,000 jobs.”

This was the first round of grants from the new Iowa Arts & Culture Emergency Relief Fund, which is administered by the Iowa Arts Council, a division of the Iowa Department of Cultural Affairs. Grants awarded through this fund are intended to support the Iowa artists and nonprofits that have suffered the most, serving as a bridge between severe financial loss and other state and federal assistance.

"Artists and community arts organizations have been hit particularly hard by this emergency and are some of the most vulnerable members of our industry right now," Iowa Arts Council Administrator David Schmitz said. "We want to help Iowa artists and these arts groups bridge the gap, so they can sustain a basic living until audiences and patrons return."

In a recent survey conducted for Iowa by Americans for the Arts, 255 arts and cultural organizations across the state reported a total financial loss of $2.85 million as of April 7. On average, those organizations lost approximately $11,000 due to closures, cancellations and increased expenses.

Nearly all of the respondents reported that they have canceled performances and other events, affecting an estimated 100,000 audience members and participants.

Sixty-two percent of respondents expect the pandemic’s impact on their organization to be “severe” or “very severe.” A quarter of the organizations have reduced staff or payroll.

Round Two

The Iowa Arts Council will accept applications for a second round of emergency grants April 24 through May 1 from all Iowa arts and cultural organizations that have existed for at least three years, maintain a 501(c)3 nonprofit status and had an operating budget of at least $10,000 during the past fiscal year. The details and application will be posted online at

Funding for this second round of grants comes from the National Endowment of the Arts, through the federal Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act. The grants are intended to help save jobs in the arts sector and keep the doors open to thousands of cultural organizations that add value to America’s economy and the creative life of its communities.

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.