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Iowa Department of Cultural Affairs announces new humanities partnership

Mar 24, 2021

The National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH), a federal agency, has designated the Iowa Department of Cultural Affairs as its interim state humanities partner.

The National Endowment for the Humanities selected the Iowa Department of Cultural Affairs for this role in recognition of the department’s strong commitment to serving the people of Iowa through the humanities and effective stewardship of federal funds through its ongoing work with the NEH and other federal agencies.

“Our department is honored to be chosen by the National Endowment for the Humanities to help cultivate the humanities in Iowa for the years to come,” said Chris Kramer, director of the Iowa Department of Cultural Affairs. “Iowa is recognized as a culturally vibrant state, and this new partnership accelerates that momentum.”

The addition of the humanities enhances the department’s cultural portfolio, which already includes the arts, film and media, history and historic preservation. The department’s new role as Iowa’s interim state humanities partner will be shaped by leadership and staff across its three divisions: the Iowa Arts Council; State Historical Society of Iowa, which includes the State Historic Preservation Office; and Produce Iowa, the state office of film and media production.

The department already maintains several long-standing partnerships with other federal agencies. Currently, the Iowa Arts Council is the official state arts agency and distributes federal funds from the National Endowment for the Arts. Further, the State Historic Preservation Office receives federal funding from and works extensively with the National Park Service and U.S. Department of the Interior to oversee the National Register of Historic Places, as well as state and federal Historic Preservation Tax Credit programs.

In 2020, the NEH selected the Iowa Department of Cultural Affairs to distribute more than $600,000 to Iowa humanities organizations. The funding came from the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act, as well as remaining state partnership funds from fiscal year 2020. 

The NEH also awarded the department a planning grant to prepare for its new role as the interim state humanities partner. Over the next year, the department will work with constituents and stakeholders to serve and strengthen the humanities and culture across Iowa. 

Iowa organizations can apply now for Cultural Leadership Partner grants and Iowa Arts & Culture Resilience grants that are supported, in part, by funding from the NEH. The department also plans to establish a new Humanities Project Grant program to support humanities activities across the state. Applications for the new grant will open in August. The department also will develop humanities programming that fosters discussion and promotes civic education.

Across its divisions and cultural portfolio, the Iowa Department of Cultural Affairs serves as an economic driver and a catalyst for Iowa’s creative economy, which includes more than 42,000 Iowans working in more than 5,000 arts, cultural and creative businesses. The department carries out its mission to build and sustain culturally vibrant communities by supporting education related to the arts, social studies and Iowa history; building the skills of Iowa’s arts, heritage and cultural leaders; and helping communities across the state become more attractive places to work, live and raise a family.  

The Iowa Department of Cultural Affairs and its three divisions – the Iowa Arts Council, Produce Iowa - State Office of Media Production and the State Historical Society of Iowa – empower Iowa to build and sustain culturally vibrant communities by connecting Iowans to the people, places and points of pride that define our state. The department’s work enables Iowa to be recognized as a state that fosters creativity and serves as a catalyst for innovation where the stories of Iowa are preserved and communicated to connect past, present and future generations.