Cultural Leadership Partners
The Cultural Leadership Partners program provides arts and cultural organizations that demonstrate an exemplary record of cultural and managerial excellence and community service with a designation and financial support over a three-year period.
Organizations selected for the program must demonstrate:
- Excellence in programming, leadership and cultural impact on a continuing basis to the citizens of Iowa;
- Sound fiscal and managerial practices;
- Deliberate community outreach and involvement.
Funding for the Cultural Leadership Partners program is made possible by an annual appropriation from the Iowa Legislature to the Iowa Arts Council, a division of the Iowa Department of Cultural Affairs, the National Endowment for the Arts and National Endowment for the Humanities, both federal agencies. Applicants must adhere to the funding policies of the Iowa Arts Council and federal government through 2 CFR Part 200.
May 3, 2021 | Application Deadline
The deadline to submit an online application is 11:59 p.m. on Monday, May 3, 2021.
May 10 - 21, 2021 | Applicant Interviews
The leadership of eligible applicants will be required to participate in a 30 minute virtual interview with department staff as part of the application process. Eligible applicants will be contacted by staff to schedule an interview and will be provided with interview questions in advance.
June 30, 2021 | Designation and Funding Decision Notification
Applicants will be notified of designation and funding award decisions by June 30, 2021.
July 1, 2021-June 30, 2024 | Designation and Funding Period
The three year designation period will be in effect from July 1, 2021 – June 30, 2024. Funding will be awarded on an annual basis for eligible expenses incurred within the eligible funding period of July 1 - June 30.
August 1, 2022, 2023, and 2024 | Annual Report Deadlines
Annual funding disbursement is contingent upon completion of annual reports to confirm continued organizational eligibility in the program.
Organizations awarded funding will receive a Cultural Leadership Partner Base Award that corresponds to the Organization’s Cash Operating Expenses, taken as an average of the organization’s last two fiscal years (2018 and 2019).
|Organizational Cash Operating Expenses|
|$150,000 - $499,999||Base Award: $10,000|
|$500,000 - $999,999||Base Award: $15,000|
|$1,000,000+||Base Award: $20,000|
Additional Program Resources
In addition to receiving a Base Award, Cultural Leadership Partners may be eligible to receive additional resources to support organizational sustainability and growth in specific areas that align with organizational and agency priorities.
These new opportunities will be developed, in part, based on input from Cultural Leadership Partners applicant interviews, and formalized in early FY2022 (beginning July 1, 2021).
Funding is disbursed to grant recipients on an annual basis contingent upon completion and acceptance of annual reports confirming continued eligibility in the program. Grant funds must be expended within the eligible funding period of July 1 - June 30 over the duration three year period of July 1, 2021 – June 30, 2024.
Use of Funds
Grant funds may be used to support programmatic and operating expenses incurred within the eligible funding period. Funds must be used to fulfill the mission of the grant recipient and support strategic goals as outlined by the organization and its leadership.
Ineligible Use of Funds
Grant funds may not be used for the following activities or expenses:
- Capital expenditures, including equipment over a total of $5,000 per unit
- Deficit or debt reduction, including loan, line-of-credit, or mortgage payments
- Donations or contributions to other organizations
- Expenses incurred prior to or after the funding period
- Foreign travel
- Fundraising or benefit
- Lobbying activity
- Prizes and awards
- Religious activity
Benefits of Designation
Iowa nonprofits are awarded Cultural Leadership Partners designation as a point of pride and recognition of leadership in the field. Designation may be used in signage and marketing material to promote the organization.
Cultural Leadership Partners grantees are expected to demonstrate leadership in the arts, humanities and cultural field over the course of the three year designation period through activities that may include, but are not limited to:
- Articulating the value of state and federal investment in the arts, humanities and culture to the grantee’s organization and community;
- Communicating with local, state and federal elected officials about the organization’s mission, programming and impact;
- Organizational leadership serving on relevant boards, committees or commissions that help raise the profile of the arts and cultural sector and its impact;
Please note: The above recommendations help educate elected officials and do not constitute lobbying. Grantees may wish to consult the Iowa Arts Council’s Advocacy resources to learn more about this distinction.
Applicants must demonstrate that they have met the following eligibility requirements for the applicant’s three (3) previous operating years prior to the application deadline, as well as agree to meet them in the current year and in each year of the funding period.
1. Organizational Eligibility
- Identify as either an Arts, Cultural or Humanities Organization.
- Arts Organizations are defined as an organization whose primary mission and purpose is focused on the arts.
- Cultural Organizations are defined as organizations whose primary mission and purpose is culturally focused or meets the definition of the interpretive sciences.
- Humanities Organizations are defined as an organization whose primary mission is focused on the humanities.
- Organization is located and incorporated in Iowa under the Iowa Nonprofit Corporation Act and holds federal 501(c)3 tax-exempt status.
- Organization is registered to do business in the State of Iowa with the Secretary of State’s Office.
- An arts or cultural department or division of a municipal government that is also incorporated in Iowa under the Iowa Nonprofit Corporation Act (does not include libraries, parks, or recreation departments).
- Organizations located in a border community with legal boundaries immediately adjacent to Iowa.
2. Overall Operational Standards
- Organization must operate and provide programming year round, which means the 12-month period of time in which an organization’s primary activities, programs or services are provided to the citizens of Iowa.
- Organization must demonstrate at least 50% of the individuals benefiting from an applicant’s programs and services are Iowans.
- Organization must maintain a cash operating expense budget, exclusive of the Iowa Department of Cultural Affairs and Iowa Arts Council general operating support, of no less than $150,000 per year.
- Organization must have one paid, full-time, professional employee who is employed year round and is responsible for managing the organization.
- Professional employee is defined as an executive director or other similar senior management position that is responsible for leading and executing the organization’s mission and vision. Professional employee does not mean a member of the board of directors or an office manager. Organizations that employ a part-time executive director are eligible, so long as they also employ at least one paid, full-time, professional employee.
3. Accessibility - Americans with Disabilities Act
Organization must demonstrate that it is in compliance or actively working to be in compliance with Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 and the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990. These laws prohibit discrimination against individuals with physical and/or mental disabilities. Both programmatic and structural accessibility must be addressed.
4. Strategic Plan
Organization must have a current strategic plan in place approved by its Board of Trustees or other form of governing body.
- Iowa Department of Cultural Affairs grantees with an outstanding final report or who have been placed on a department funding moratorium.
- Organization that uses a fiscal agent or the nonprofit or federal tax-exempt status of another organization.
- Organization that receives general operating support through other programs administered by the Iowa Department of Cultural Affairs or its divisions. This does not include funding received through the Iowa Arts & Culture Recovery Grant program.
- For-profit corporation or business; religious organization; political party, or national service/professional organization.
- Agency, department, or division of county, state, or federal government, including: libraries, parks and recreation, and arts and cultural offices that exist as an agency, department or division of county, state or federal government.
- Auditorium, arena, convention center or similar type of venue whose primary purpose is related to presenting popular entertainment, sporting or recreational events.
- Educational institution, organization, or K-12 school, whose primary orientation, mission and purpose is education and the awarding of academic credits.
- Organization that has met organizational eligibility requirements for less than 3 years at the time of application.
Iowa Arts Council Administered Grant Program Eligibility
- Applicants may not submit more than one application during a single grant deadline or cycle regardless of grant program
- Applicants that meet eligibility requirements and apply for the Cultural Leadership Partners program will be considered for funding through the Resilience Grant if entity is not awarded Cultural Leadership Partner funding
Matching Funds Requirement
Eligible organizations whose cash operating expenses, excluding state and federal funds, are equal to or in excess of the grant award shall be determined to have met the matching requirements for this program. Grant funds from the department or its divisions shall not be used as matching funds for this program.
Additional consideration will be placed upon applications from organizations that meet the eligibility requirements and are primarily led by and serve populations that have been historically under-resourced on the basis of one or more of the following:
- Rural Geography - Located in and primarily serving persons in an eligible rural county defined as non-metropolitan or non-micropolitan statistical areas by the United States Office of Management and Budget.
- Community of Color - Organization is primarily led by and/or primarily serves a community of color. individuals who identify as African American or Black; American Indian or Alaska Native; Asian or Asian American; Hispanic, Latinx or Spanish Origin; Middle Eastern or North African; or Native Hawaiian or Pacific Islander.
- Low Socioeconomic Status - Located in and primarily serving persons in a county with a median household income at 80 percent or less of the median household income for the state of Iowa based on the U.S. Census Bureau's Small Area Income and Poverty Estimates for 2019 and/or a poverty rate above the national poverty rate of 10.5% based on the U.S. Census Bureau's Small Area Income and Poverty Estimates for 2019.
Equity considerations must be demonstrated through the application and interview materials, including:
- Mission and vision statement
- Specific community served and impact on the community
- Majority of artists/cultural content presented, produced or exhibited
- Board and staff composition
“Primarily led by/serves” means 50% or greater of the total number of persons (e.g. served by an organization’s arts and cultural programming, serving on their board, etc.). This may include participation in online/virtual arts programming but excludes engagement with marketing content through social, digital or paid media (advertising).
Final decisions on applying equity considerations will be solely made by the Iowa Arts Council.
Online Application Submission
Applicants must submit applications via the Iowa Arts Council’s SlideRoom, an online application portal. Applications will not be accepted in any other format. Late, incomplete or ineligible applications will not be accepted. Applicants can access the current online application requirements at iowa arts council.slideroom.com. Applicants must create a login to view the full application requirements for the program. Applicants can visit help.liaisonedu.com for technical assistance related to the online submission.
Department Eligibility Review
Submitted applications are reviewed by staff for completion, eligibility and adherence to published funding priorities and guidelines. Applications are reviewed as submitted. New application information or subsequent application clarification submitted after a program deadline is not considered. Staff will also review an applicant’s record of compliance and good standing with the Iowa Department of Cultural Affairs, State and Federal government. Applications or applicants determined by staff to be ineligible or incomplete will not move forward to panel review and are specifically denied any appeals process.
Competitive Panel Review
Eligible applications will be referred to a competitive review by a volunteer citizen panel of Iowa arts, humanities, culture professionals or scholars with appropriate expertise commensurate to the purpose of the grant program.
Online Application and Interview Review
The panel review will consist of a two-part process including a review of the online application and a review of a recorded interview.
The online applications and recorded interviews will be scored and ranked based on the published scoring rubrics. Panel ranking and recommendations are submitted to the Administrator of the Iowa Arts Council and Director of the Iowa Department of Cultural Affairs for consideration and funding approval. Applications will be awarded funding based on the ranked list; department funding priorities; and available funding. All funding decisions are final and may not be appealed due to dissatisfaction. Applicants may review the department appeals policy for information on grounds for appeal and the appeal process.
Operating Support Program Consideration
Organizations that are not selected for the Cultural Leadership Partner program will automatically be considered for programmatic and operating support through the FY 2022 Resilience Grant program. Applicants do not need to submit any additional information to be considered for the program.
Applicants will be notified of Cultural Leadership Partner designation and funding decisions via email by June 30, 2021. Applicants are notified of the status of their application whether they are or are not awarded designation and/or funding. Applicants will be contacted if any additional information is required and are encouraged to refrain from contacting staff for application status updates until funding decisions are made.
Application Questions & Scoring Rubric
The Cultural Leadership Partners Program Scoring Rubric will be used by the panel to evaluate grant applications. Application questions are provided for reference only. Applicants must review and complete application requirements in the SlideRoom portal. Each section has criteria and corresponding point values to ensure a fair review process. The rubric is on a scale of 45 points.
Programs & Services
Provide a brief overview of the organization and the programs and services the organization offers, including:
- how they help the organization accomplish its stated mission and vision
- how they uphold the organization’s values
|PROGRAMS & SERVICES: 3 points possible|
|3 Applicant offers exceptional programming or services that clearly advance its vision and reflect its mission and values.||2 Applicant offers average programming or services that relate to its mission, vision, and values.||1 Applicant’s programming or services are limited and/or it is unclear how they relate to the mission, vision, and values.|
Describe the organization's accessibility plan, including:
- the designated person at the organization responsible for handling accessibility inquiries
- how the organization’s facilities and programs are accessible or the accommodations made to assist with accessibility
|ACCESSIBILITY: 3 points possible|
|3 Applicant identifies a specific individual responsible for addressing accessibility needs. Organization proactively ensures facilities and programs are accessible.||2 Applicant identifies a department within the organization responsible for addressing accessibility needs. Organization provides adequate accommodations to make facilities and programs accessible.||1 Applicant does not identify an individual or department within the organization responsible for addressing accessibility needs and/or does not provide adequate accommodations to make facilities and programs accessible.|
Community Engagement & Inclusion
Describe the organization’s involvement within their community, including:
- Detailed description of the community the organization is in and who from that community the organization currently serves. Be specific, including overall demographics and number of people the organization serves each year (e.g. patrons, visitors, students)
- Current programmatic and community engagement activities that demonstrate how the organization proactively seeks to reach out and be inclusive of diverse persons and communities in the planning, design and implementation of programs.
- Target audience the organization would like to serve in the future and why reaching them is a priority. Be specific about the target audience by including demographics.
- How the organization plans to proactively reach the identified target audience.
|COMMUNITY ENGAGEMENT & INCLUSION : 3 points possible|
|3 Applicant demonstrates a record of community outreach and engagement activities that are connected to the mission. Organization seeks to reflect and be inclusive of the broader community through its programmatic activities.||2 Applicant demonstrates sporadic community outreach and engagement efforts and/or limited programmatic activities that reflect and include the broader community.||1 Applicant demonstrates weak or little community engagement. Programmatic activities do not reflect or include the broader community.|
Upload one page with the names, titles/positions, and biographies of the organization’s leadership and key staff.
Upload Board of Directors list (if applicable) noting each member’s affiliations.
|ORGANIZATION LEADERSHIP: 3 points possible|
|3 Organization leadership at the staff and board level is exceptional based on relevant experience described in their bio and list of board members.||2 Organization leadership at the staff and board level is adequate based on relevant experience described in their bio and list of board members.||1Organization leadership at staff and board level is inadequate based on relevant experience described in their bio and list of board members.|
Cultural Leadership Partners are required to have a current strategic plan. Upload the organization’s plan. Ensure the plan includes the dates that demonstrate it is a current plan. If the plan has expired, include a short description as to why the organization is operating with an expired plan and timeline for developing a new one.
|STRATEGIC PLAN: 3 points possible|
|3 Strategic plan articulates an exemplary long-term vision and mission for the organization, supported by realistic and measurable long-term goals, actionable strategies, and steps to be taken with clear assignments and deadlines.||2 Strategic plan clearly states the organization’s vision and mission statements and generally describes long-term goals. Implementation of the plan is broadly addressed but lacks actionable steps, assignments and dates.||1 Strategic plan is provided, but lacks major required components or detail that would guide its implementation.|
Organization Financial Overview
Upload the organization’s last filed 990. If you are unable to upload the entire document, submit the breakdown of income and expenses and program activities.
Upload the organization’s current balance sheet.
Balance Sheet Overview - Based on submitted balance sheet, provide the following information:
- Total current assets
- Total current liabilities
- Cash and cash equivalents
- Total assets
- Total liabilities
Financial Snapshot - These numbers will be entered for the organization’s last three completed fiscal years. This will include 2020, but the funding awards will be based on the average of the two fiscal years prior to 2020. For each fiscal year, we will need to know:
|ORGANIZATION FINANCIAL OVERVIEW: 3 points possible|
|3 Financial overview is clear, complete and supported by strong financial documents. Little to no concerns about the organization’s financial health.||2 Financial overview is provided. Some concerns about the organization’s financial health.||1 Financial overview is unclear or incomplete. Concerns about the organization's financial health.|
Deficit / Surplus
Describe how the organization addresses deficit or surplus funds, including:
- if a surplus or deficit is reflected in the most recently filed 990, how the deficit or surplus occurred and how the organization addressed the situation
- how the organization will handle deficits or surplus funds in the future
|DEFICIT / SURPLUS: 3 points possible|
|3 Organization provides a clear explanation for deficit/surplus funds and addressing the situation. Confident organization has strategies for addressing deficit/surplus funds in the future.||2 Organization provides satisfactory explanation of deficit/surplus. Organization has identified considerations for addressing deficit/surplus funds in the future.||1 Organization provides insufficient
explanation of deficit/surplus funds. Concern about organizational strategies for addressing deficit/surplus funds in the future.
|Deficit/Surplus Not Reported|
|3 Confident organization has strategies for addressing deficit/surplus funds in the future.||2 Organization has identified considerations for addressing deficit/surplus funds in the future.||1 Concerns about organizational strategies for addressing deficit/surplus funds in the future.|
Use of Grant Funds
Identify how the grant funds will be utilized to help the organization achieve strategic goals or objectives within the eligible funding period of July 1 - June 30. Specify whether the grant funds will be utilized for operating, programmatic, or a combination of operating and programmatic expenses. If the strategic goals or objectives are not included in the uploaded strategic plan, describe why and how the identified strategic goals or objectives address new or urgent concerns for the applicant organization.
|USE OF GRANT FUNDS: 3 points possible|
|3 Applicant has a clear plan in place to utilize grant funds to achieve strategic goals or objectives.||2 Applicant has an adequate plan in place to utilize grant funds to achieve strategic goals or objectives.||1 Unclear how the grant funds will assist applicant in achieving strategic goals or objectives.|
Submit up to five media samples that provide additional context for organizational excellence. Media samples may include promotional material, work samples, letters of support or other material that enhances the case for support. Do not submit additional narrative or lists of web links. The title must identify the media support material.
|SUPPORT MATERIAL: 3 points possible|
|3 Support material is highly relevant to the application and demonstrates organizational excellence.||2 Support material relates to the application and is of average quality.||1 Support material is not relevant to the application and/or is of poor quality.|
|CASE FOR SUPPORT: 3 points possible|
|3 Case for support is exemplary and merits investment from the State.||2 Case for support is adequate.||1 Case for support is inadequate or does not merit state investment.|
Interview Questions & Scoring Rubric
Leadership & Cultural Impact
Describe your organization’s leadership in its field and the cultural impact it has on a local, state, regional, national and/or international level.
- What are some programs and services you offer that helped shape Iowa’s cultural landscape?
- What are some notable achievements or accomplishments that acknowledge your organization’s leadership and impact?
- Share a story from the audience you serve such as patrons, students, artists, etc. that demonstrate the organization’s impact
|LEADERSHIP & CULTURAL IMPACT: 3 points possible|
|3 Organization demonstrates exceptional leadership in the field and a strong cultural impact at a local, state, regional, and/or international level.||2 Organization demonstrates some leadership in the field and a cultural impact at a local, state, regional, and/or international level.||1Organization’s leadership in the field and cultural impact is unclear or inadequately described.|
Leadership & Community Engagement
Describe how the organization’s leadership on both the staff and board level reflects the community the organization is in and serves. If the staff and board leadership is not reflective of the community, what strategies does the organization have in place for diversifying its leadership? What policies or practices does the organization have in place to guide leadership transitions?
|LEADERSHIP & COMMUNITY ENGAGEMENT: 3 points possible|
|3 Organization leadership reflects the entire community or has clear strategies in place for diversifying its leadership. Organization has practices, policies, or a plan to guide leadership transitions.||2 Organization leadership reflects some parts of the community and/or plans for diversifying leadership are adequate or in progress. Organization addresses practices or policies for leadership transitions.||1 Organization leadership poorly reflects the community and plans for diversifying leadership are not identified. Plans for leadership transitions are limited or inadequate.|
Strategic Plan Development & Evaluation
Describe how the strategic plan submitted with your application was developed and how it is evaluated on a regular basis. Did your organization make adjustments to the plan as a result of the events in 2020?
|STRATEGIC PLAN DEVELOPMENT & EVALUATION: 3 points possible|
|3 Organization provides a clear process for creating the strategic plan that involves staff and board members as well as input from other organizational stakeholders. A clear process for regular review of the plan is outlined.||2 Organization provides a process for creating the strategic plan. A process for review of the plan is outlined, but may not happen on a regular basis.||1 Organization’s process for creating the strategic plan is not identified or unclear. A process to review the plan is not identified or unclear.|
Financial Management & Review
Describe the organization’s approach to financial management and review.
- What is the process for setting the current fiscal year budget?
- Who is involved and who makes final decisions?
- What is the process for an ongoing reviewing of the organization's financial health and how are adjustments made throughout the fiscal year?
- Does the organization have their finances independently reviewed and/or audited?
|FINANCIAL MANAGEMENT: 3 points possible|
|3Organization’s approach to financial management is detailed and key roles and responsibilities are well-defined. Clear process to review financial health and adjust throughout the year is in place. Independent audit or review is conducted on an annual basis.||2 Organization’s approach to financial management and key roles and responsibilities are identified. Measures are in place to review financial health and adjust throughout the year. Internal audit or review is conducted on an annual basis.||1 Organization’s approach to financial management is unclear or inadequate. Roles and responsibilities, and ongoing financial review process measures are not clearly defined. No independent audit or review is provided and description of measures to ensure financial accountability is inadequate.|
Organization’s Future Health
Describe the primary issue(s) facing the organization in the next three years and how your organization plans to address it. What policies and procedures does the organization have in place that will help address this issue(s)?
|ORGANIZATION’S FUTURE HEALTH: 3 points possible|
|3 Confident the organization has the financial and personnel resources and tools in place to address the outlined issue. Policies and procedures identified indicate a sustainable organization that will survive long into the future.||2 Organization has the financial and personnel resources and tools in place to adequately address the outlined issue. Policies and procedures identified indicate a stable organization that currently seems strong. Long term sustainability is unclear.||1 Concern that the organization does not have the necessary financial and personnel resources and tools in place to address the outlined issue. Policies and procedures identified indicate an unstable organization.|
Glossary of Terms and Definitions
Applicants should refer to the glossary for clarification of program terms and definitions.
The Iowa Arts Council is committed to providing reasonable accommodations to eligible applicants. For technical support submitting the online application, please contact the Accessibility Coordinator, Jennie Knoebel at 515-242-6194 or email@example.com, at least two weeks in advance of application deadlines.
Applicants are encouraged to review all published material and contact Iowa Arts Council staff, Jennie Knoebel at 515-242-6194 or firstname.lastname@example.org, with questions well in advance of application deadlines.