Share Your Story for the Iowa Arts Council’s 50th Anniversary

Iowa Culture
Aug 2, 2017 · 3 min read

The Iowa Arts Council prides itself on how little paper we shuffle to get things done. These days, almost all of the files we create are digital.

But in the early years, staffers diligently clipped articles out of the newspapers and pasted them into a big scrapbook, which we recently dusted off for the Arts Council’s 50th anniversary.

This scrapbook covers the early days of the Iowa Arts Council.

There’s some great stuff in there, including a photo of Gov. Harold Hughes signing the bill that established the Iowa Arts Council, in 1967. (It wasn’t a sure thing. A Waterloo Courier editorial from Dec. 5, 1966, argued that despite what “those with beards and odorous sweatshirts” might think, “it would be a fraud for the people of Podunk to pretend they like Italian opera.”)

The articles in the scrapbook mention early leaders (including Des Moines art collector Louise Noun, back when the papers still called her Mrs. Maurice Noun) and the Arts Council’s first touring shows and programs — an Iowa Designer Craftsmen exhibition, a Navajo weaver at the Sanford Museum in Cherokee, a Russian-Italian dancer directing “Swan Lake” at North High School in Des Moines.

The Des Moines Register featured a Navajo weaving exhibit in Cherokee on Dec. 6, 1970.

In those yellowed clippings, you can sense the Arts Council’s early ambition and trace the origins of some of the programs that have flourished in the half-century since.

But when it comes right down to it, the Arts Council’s 50th anniversary is all about you.

  1. How has your arts organization or your artistic career grown over the years with the Arts Council’s support?
  2. Have you ever received an Arts Council grant? And if so, what were the results?
  3. Have you ever seen or experienced a program that received Arts Council support? How did it make a difference in your community?

We’d love to add your stories to our scrapbook. So please, take a moment to email a few brief answers to the questions above, along with a few photos, to

We’ll share 50 stories on social media starting in October — one each day leading up to our Celebrate Iowa Gala on Dec. 8 at the State Historical Museum of Iowa in Des Moines. We’re co-hosting the party with the State Historical Society of Iowa, which turns 160 this year.

So there’s plenty to celebrate, starting with you.

— Michael Morain, Iowa Department of Cultural Affairs

While attending the Beef Festival in 1970 . . . don’t forget this project from the Iowa Arts Council.

Iowa Arts Council

Empowering Iowans to build and sustain culturally vibrant communities by cultivating creativity, participation & learning in the arts.

Iowa Culture

Written by

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

Iowa Arts Council

Empowering Iowans to build and sustain culturally vibrant communities by cultivating creativity, participation & learning in the arts.

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