Iowa Arts Council
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Iowa Arts Council

Iowa Cultural Trust 101

State Capitol of Iowa

The Iowa Cultural Trust has been making headlines lately as the Iowa Legislature tackles a projected budget shortfall for the current state fiscal year that ends on June 30. Understandably, recent interest in the Cultural Trust has centered on its long-term potential as a funding source for arts, history and culture. So here’s what you should know.

The legislature created the Cultural Trust in 2002 as a state fund, managed by the state treasurer, that would grow over time from annual appropriations from the legislature. Much like an endowment, the trust created a long-term funding mechanism by generating interest, which supports two specific grant programs that challenge cultural non-profit organizations to plan for their own financial stability.

The Cultural Trust, along with the Stability and Endowment Challenge Grant programs it supports, are administered by the Department of Cultural Affairs and a citizen board of trustees appointed by the governor and legislature.

From 2004 until 2012, the legislature appropriated more than $6 million to the Cultural Trust, bringing the current balance to approximately $6.1 million. Over the lifespan of the trust, the interest earned totaled more than $600,000 and funded 75 grants to cultural non-profit organizations statewide, leveraging more than $2 million in private matching funds.

Because of investment restrictions in Iowa law, the trust generates modest but impactful interest income to support Cultural Trust grant-making.

A recommendation by the governor and pending action by the legislature could transfer the full balance of the Cultural Trust to help close the gap in the current state budget. This action would leave approximately $90,000 in un-granted interest income that would be made available to prospective applicants as Stability Grants during upcoming grant cycles.

The Department of Cultural Affairs is working with the governor and legislature to be part of a statewide solution to the current state budget challenges and looks forward to working with all stakeholders to continue to support Iowa’s cultural community.

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Iowa Culture

Iowa Culture

The Iowa Department of Cultural Affairs empowers Iowa to build and sustain culturally vibrant communities by connecting Iowans to resources. iowaculture.gov