The Iowa Department of Cultural Affairs is sending out its annual grants for a variety of programs in art, film, history and culture.

Spokesman Michael Morain says the program is funded by the Iowa Legislature. “We distributed a little over two million dollars in 176 grants across the state,” Morain says, “and there’s some really, really, creative, innovative projects that I think will benefit Iowans in lots of different ways.”

Creston was awarded $10,000 for a project that will hire artists to mentor at-risk students to paint four murals in the alleyways of Uptown Creston. The project will make the alleys more attractive and connect remote parking areas with shopping areas.
“In Davenport, there’s a filmmaking workshop for youth to teach teenagers how to make their own films. How to write them, edit them, produce them — and those are slated for a local film festival screening — eventually either virtually or at an in-person film festival down the road,” according to Morain.

An organization in Postville received $10,000 for its local artist studio tours. “You can visit the weaver in his or her studio, so you can really see the artist doing their thing, whatever it is and talking about what they make,” Morain says. He says the grant they’re receiving will help them adapt that to a virtual experience. Another grant will help artists show off their work in storefronts on Main Street in Ames, so their work can be seen in a safe way.

A group working on the town square and the Madison County Courthouse in Winterset also received a grant. “Historic preservation is an ongoing project. So, they’ve already done a lot of work on the courthouse and this grant will help them make the next improvement, sort of the next phase,” he says.

The Winneshiek County Historic Preservation Commission received a $4,300 grant the Dam Gate Outdoor Industrial Sculpture Exhibit, which will preserve the last remaining dam gate from the historic Lower Dam of Winneshiek County. Friends of the Davenport Library received a nearly $15,000 grant to help save the music from the Bix Beiderbecke Museum and World Archives Collection.

“To transfer some of the earliest recordings onto a digital format that we can use and preserve for years to come,” Morain explains. “Same thing in Amana. There’s some cassette tapes of oral history interviews of some of the old timers who remember what Amana was like when Amana was still a communal community.”

Morain says the arts and culture organizations have been hit hard by the loss of revenue from the coronavirus outbreak, and some are getting help. He says some of the grants are for annual operating support to keep the lights on and to keep the ready to open when they can. You can find out more about the grants by visiting the Iowa Department of Cultural Affairs Department website.