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Iowa Department of Cultural Affairs opens new round of grants for art, film, history, humanities and more

Feb 16, 2022

The Iowa Department of Cultural Affairs has opened a new round of grant opportunities to build more culturally vibrant communities.

For the upcoming fiscal year, which begins July 1, the department’s grant opportunities and community designation programs are designed to boost creative placemaking, a strategy that puts arts, culture, history, historic preservation and media production at the center of community and economic development efforts. The grants can support the state’s creative workforce, help Iowans revitalize a historic district, launch a creative community wide project, showcase a community in a film project – and much more. 

“Iowa’s artists, cultural nonprofits and creative entrepreneurs are developing projects for their communities and programs for Iowans to engage in lifelong learning,” Iowa Department of Cultural Affairs Director Chris Kramer said. “These new competitive grants will jump-start exciting initiatives that help communities compete for future residents as our state is focusing on building our workforce.”

The grants are administered by several of the department’s divisions: the Iowa Arts Council, the new Iowa Humanities Council, State Historical Society of Iowa, and Produce Iowa, the state office of film and media production. Funding is made possible through annual appropriations from the Iowa Legislature and federal partnerships with the National Endowment for the Arts and National Endowment for the Humanities. Additional funding comes from the nonprofit State Historical Society of Iowa, Inc., and through the state’s Resource Enhancement and Protection Act (REAP), which the legislature enacted to provide funds to preserve, conserve, interpret, enhance and educate the public about Iowa’s historical resources.

To further develop the state’s creative placemaking initiatives that combine arts and culture with community development, the agency is offering new funding opportunities and re-opening a designation program:

  • Artist Catalyst Grants support Iowa artists, filmmakers, musicians and creative writers who work to advance their artistic practices and elevate the creative field in Iowa.
  • Creative Places Project Grants provide funding for collaborative projects in communities that use creative placemaking as a strategy for creating jobs, attracting and retaining talent, and boosting tourism.
  • Iowa Cultural & Entertainment District designations recognize well-identified, walkable and compact areas with a high concentration of arts and cultural facilities. Research shows that the presence of arts and cultural opportunities in a community can enhance property values and the local tax base, while attracting a more diverse and engaged workforce and increasing tourism. Currently, there are 13 designated Iowa Cultural and Entertainment Districts across the state.

Additionally, the Iowa Arts Council will continue to offer Iowa Artist Fellowships and Arts Project Grants to support artists’ career development and innovative artworks, public arts experiences, and arts learning activities for all ages. 

The Iowa Arts Council also administers the popular Greenlight Grants on behalf of Produce Iowa to help take projects from script to screen. Since their creation three years ago, the grants have supported a dozen Iowa filmmaking projects, expanded the professional capacity of Iowa’s media industry, and benefited many related small businesses. 

Here is a complete list of the department’s new grant and community-designation opportunities:

Artist Catalyst Grants
Arts Project Grants
Country School Grants
Creative Places Project Grants
Cultural Capacity Building Grants
Greenlight Grants
Historical Resource Development Program Grants
Iowa Artist Fellowships
Iowa Cultural and Entertainment Districts Designation
Research Grants for Authors
School Arts Experience Grants

While the deadline for most programs is May 2, there are exceptions. Applications for the Iowa Artist Fellowships are due March 15, and applications for the Research Grants for Authors are due April 15. Additionally, several smaller grants administered by the Iowa Arts Council have moved on to a year-round schedule with quarterly deadlines. Applicants are highly encouraged to review the guidelines and note the deadlines for the program to which they are applying. 

The Iowa Arts Council will offer a series of program webinars and hold regularly scheduled office hours, where applicants can direct their individual questions to IAC staff. Visit for details.

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.