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Iowa invests $7 million in recovery grants for arts, creative and cultural sector

Dec 22, 2020

A total of 267 cultural organizations and 152 artists serving 118 Iowa communities will receive a share of $7 million in grants announced today by the Iowa Department of Cultural Affairs.

Gov. Kim Reynolds allocated the funding, made possible by the Coronavirus, Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act, on Dec. 2. The department launched the Iowa Arts & Culture Recovery Program the same day and received more than 550 requests totaling more than $36 million by the Dec. 11 deadline.

The list of recipients includes some of Iowa’s longest-running music venues, arts and cultural heritage festivals, and theaters, along with artists and community arts councils, historical museums and university performing arts centers.

“The Iowa Arts and Culture Recovery Program stabilizes a vital part of Iowa’s economy by helping our arts and cultural sector build a much-needed funding bridge for a stronger recovery,” Iowa Department of Cultural Affairs Director Chris Kramer said. “We are so grateful to Gov. Reynolds for her steadfast support of Iowa’s creative and cultural workforce. These grants provide relief for thousands of Iowans whose jobs and livelihoods have been impacted this year.”

The Covid-19 pandemic has devastated Iowa’s creative sector, which relies on income from admissions, ticket sales and events. According to data provided by grant applicants, organizations have lost a combined $46.4 million in income since the pandemic began.

In a typical year, Iowa’s creative sector accounts for 2.3 percent of the state’s economy, according to research by the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis. Iowa’s arts, culture, history and creative industries, including film and media, employ more than 42,000 Iowans working in more than 5,000 nonprofit and for-profit businesses statewide.

The Iowa Arts and Cultural Recovery Program grants were administered by the Iowa Arts Council, a division of the Iowa Department of Cultural Affairs, and will bolster arts venues, cultural nonprofits and creative workers whose activities are essential to education, economic development and quality of life throughout Iowa.

“It’s truly remarkable how arts and cultural organizations as well as individual artists have continued to create, innovate and keep us connected during the pandemic, in spite of the personal and financial challenges that many have faced,” Iowa Arts Council Administrator David Schmitz said. “I’m so proud that our agency has the opportunity to support artists, music venues and organizations when they need it most.”

The one-time grants range from $1,500 to $175,000 and provide relief to individuals, businesses and nonprofit organizations that can demonstrate lost income and extra expenses incurred due to the pandemic. The grants may be used to offset operating expenses, as well as costs associated with reopening in person or adapting programs to virtual formats.

While the relief program was highly competitive, the department funded 75 percent of requests, demonstrating support for arts and culture statewide. Additionally:

  • More than half of the grants were distributed to cultural organizations with annual budgets under $250,000.
  • The average grant for organizations and venues was just over $25,000.
  • Funding was prioritized for artists and organizations that serve rural areas, culturally diverse populations or under-represented groups.

A full list of grant recipients is available online at

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.