Several Q-C arts and cultural organizations received emergency relief funding, among 173 grants throughout Iowa announced Wednesday by the Iowa Department of Cultural Affairs (IDCA).

The department awarded more than $1.1 million in grants — $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.

Chris Kramer

Funding for the emergency relief grants was made possible by the federal Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act. The IDCA 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,” IDCA director Chris Kramer said in a release. “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. They include:

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.

Q-C arts institutions react

“The Family Museum has suffered significant losses in revenue as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic and the Museum closure,” Kim Kidwell, Family Museum director, said Wednesday. “This funding will help cover expenses for programs and exhibits.  We are very grateful to the Iowa Department of Cultural Affairs and their commitment to cultural institutions in the Quad-Cities and beyond.”

“This support is tremendously meaningful to our organization and will help sustain ​the QCSO amidst the pandemic, which has made it impossible to provide the live concerts that are central to our mission,” said Brian Baxter, executive director for the orchestra.

“The funding and support provided by the IDCA and NEA makes a significant difference to the sustainability of RME,” Tyson Danner, executive of River Music Experience, said. “While some business and nonprofits have been able to reopen, we unfortunately cannot reopen yet. With most sources of revenue still paused, this grant goes a long way to keeping us in operation while we plan for a return to more normal operations.”

Kim Kidwell

Since being closed mid-March, the German American Heritage Center is among many forced to come up with “creative solutions to make up for lost revenue, but grants such as these ease the loses we are experiencing,” GAHC executive director Kelly Lao said.

“There are many needs in Iowa and the country at this time, therefore we are exceptionally grateful,” Figge development director Sara Volz said. “This grant will assist us in continuing our mission as well as add value and support to our communities through art and cultural experiences.

“While we are closed, the Figge has refocused our efforts to serve our community through our virtual museum, which allows our audience to experience the Figge while staying home and keeping safe,” she said. The art museum reopens to the public June 9.

Putnam president/CEO Rachael Mullins said the grant will help “begin our new fiscal year with reliable funding for several important roles in the organization, our education and visitor services staff. These vital positions are the front line of the visitor experience, delivering the quality learning and enrichment activities that the Putnam is known for.

“When the museum reopens later this summer, we look forward to welcoming our community back to a new visitor experience and our families back to some new summer camp offerings,” she said.

Ballet Quad Cities will use its grant to expand the “Dance Me a Story: Exploring Literature Through Ballet” to include five books in its virtual library to distribute to libraries and summer programs throughout the region, said executive director Joedy Cook.

The Dance Me a Story “Look Where We Live: A First Book on Community Building!” has been pushed out to every census team in the state of Iowa, she said, meaning their message could reach 3.5 million people in the state of Iowa.

Millions lost in arts and culture revenue

Brian Baxter

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,” Kramer said. “These CARES Act grants will help one of our state’s largest industries rebound in the weeks and months ahead.”

The IDCA partnered with the National Endowment for the Humanities to award an additional 24 grants to Iowa humanities organizations for special projects and programs.

In all, the department received 213 applications for all the 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.

Kramer, the IDCA director, said the state legislature went back into session Wednesday, to determine funding for the Iowa Arts Council and State Historical Society of Iowa.

The legislature will decide how much funding will be available for future grants, to be distributed in July as part of IDCA’s annual grantmaking. There was a June 1 deadline for these annual grants, which also come from some NEA funding, she said.

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Jonathan Turner has been covering the Quad-Cities arts scene for 25 years, first as a reporter with the Dispatch and Rock Island Argus, and then as a reporter with the Quad City Times. Jonathan is also an accomplished actor and musician who has been seen frequently on local theater stages, including the Bucktown Revue and Black Box Theatre.