The tough economic times have non-profit arts organizations struggling for survival. The leader of a non-profit operation that promotes the arts in the Des Moines area, M.D. Isley, says the nationwide recession is taking a toll on Iowa’s cultural programs.

“In the last three to six months, we’ve started to feel it. Obviously, contributions to organizations have decreased because of the loss of investment income,” Isley said. “We’re also seeing that organizations are really concerned right now about planning and what they actually do.” The director of the Iowa Department of Cultural Affairs, Cyndi Peterson, says the arts have been hit especially hard in Iowa.

“We’re all having to tighten our belt a little bit and rethink how we do things,” Peterson said. “One thing with Iowa, pro or con, is we’ve not only had the national economic disasters but we’ve had the natural disasters from the flooding and tornados of 2008.” Peterson says members of the arts community are part of the creative class, and if they can’t come up with novel solutions to tough economic times, then no one can.

Leaders of arts organization in Iowa were in Des Moines last week to meet with the president of the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C. Michael Kaiseris on a nationwide tour as part of the Center’s “Arts in Crisis” project. He says if arts organizations concentrate on long-range planning and marketing, funds will follow.