Official State of Iowa Website Here is how you know
State Historical Society of Iowa

Iowa’s creative places to benefit from Iowa Department of Cultural Affairs programs

Jan 6, 2022

The Iowa Department of Cultural Affairs today announced its latest investments in building culturally vibrant communities and opened a new opportunity for cities and regions seeking to be designated as an Iowa Great Place.

The department awarded a total of $250,000 in Strengthening Communities grants, which will benefit seven rural Iowa communities: Clinton, Hampton, Keokuk, Lake City, Maquoketa, Red Oak and Stanton.

Strengthening Communities grants support facility renovation and construction projects that promote youth development, healthy living and social responsibility in communities with fewer than 28,000 residents. The grants are made possible by an appropriation from the Iowa Legislature through the Rebuild Iowa Infrastructure Fund.

In addition to awarding the new grants, the department is encouraging Iowa communities to apply to be designated as a new or continuing Iowa Great Place.

Through the Iowa Great Places program, the Iowa Department of Cultural Affairs recognizes communities that have developed bold visions around developing their creative and cultural assets and formed the plans, partnerships and projects to make those visions a reality. Once designated as an Iowa Great Place, communities may apply for competitive grant funding, participate in professional development opportunities, and receive technical assistance from the department along with additional funding consideration from other state agencies.

The application round is now open and applications for new designations will be accepted until May 2.

“We’re proud to invest in the people and projects that build and sustain creative places,” Iowa Department of Cultural Affairs Director Chris Kramer said. “Iowa’s rural counties, in particular, benefit from strategic programs that can help guide their growth and support their development, while creating more culturally vibrant places to live, work and raise families.”

The Iowa Department of Cultural Affairs maintains a portfolio of programs dedicated to placing arts, culture, history, film and historic preservation at the center of community revitalization efforts – an approach sometimes described as ‘creative placemaking’.

Along with the Strengthening Communities and Iowa Great Places grant programs – both administered by its arts division, the Iowa Arts Council – the Iowa Department of Cultural Affairs manages the Iowa Cultural and Entertainment Districts program; awards tax credits to support the development of historic properties through the State Historic Preservation Office; awards grants and provides technical assistance through the State Historical Society of Iowa; and supports film and media projects that showcase Iowa’s creative places through Produce Iowa, the State Office of Media Production.

More information about the creative placemaking grants and community designation programs can be found online at

The seven FY2022 recipients of the Strengthening Communities Grants announced today include:

  • YWCA Clinton: This project involves the reconfiguration of childcare spaces and youth classrooms to address ever-changing needs, expand capacity and improve efficiency – all to help the YWCA fulfill its responsibility to increase childcare accessibility and provide a safe environment for children. Grant award: $65,000.
  • La Luz Hispana, Hampton: This project entails an interior renovation that will maximize the building space, including the construction of two classrooms that will enable simultaneous activities while opening up the reception area and front office. Grant award: $65,000.
  • Hoerner Young Men's Christian Association of Keokuk: This project will support the second phase of a renovation, which updates changing areas and relocates a sauna to the pool deck. Grant award: $35,000.
  • Central School Preservation, Lake City: This project involves the installation of an outdoor sports court on the property (one block south of the city’s historic square) for outdoor recreation for people of all ages. Grant award: $10,000.
  • Maquoketa Area Family YMCA, Maquoketa: This investment will help address the most pressing facility issues that have accumulated over 14 years of operation. Key areas of focus include the removal and replacement of the wellness floor. Grant award: $30,000.
  • Montgomery County Family YMCA, Red Oak: This project will focus on the replacement of the heating, ventilation and air-conditioning units. These upgrades could help the YMCA save up to 20 percent in electrical costs. Grant award: $35,000.
  • Stanton Friends, also known as the Stanton Viking Center, Stanton: This project is centered on the construction of an outdoor basketball court, a proposal brought forward by students and community members. The court will be located along the Greenbelt Walking Trail on the city’s east side. Grant award: $10,000.

More information about the creative placemaking grants and designation programs can be found 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.