Fiscal Year 2024 Designation Guidelines
The Iowa Cultural & Entertainment District designation recognizes well-identified, walkable, mixed-use, compact areas of a city or county in which a high concentration of arts and cultural facilities serves as the anchor.
The presence of arts and cultural opportunities enhances property values, the profitability of surrounding businesses and the tax base of the area. These districts attract a diverse and engaged workforce – a key incentive for new and relocating businesses. Furthermore, these districts are attracting residents and tourists who support adjacent businesses such as restaurants, lodging facilities, retail stores and entertainment venues.
The program goals are to distinguish those districts which have created unique cultural centers and prioritized visitor experiences; promote the districts and their supported activities; and provide technical assistance and professional development opportunities.
The program, defined in Iowa Code 303.3B, is administered by the Iowa Arts Council, a division of the Iowa Department of Cultural Affairs, pursuant to the authority of Iowa Administrative Code Section 221, Chapter 9.
Potential applicants, especially first time applicants, are encouraged to review all published material and contact Program Manager Jon Berg at firstname.lastname@example.org, with questions well in advance of application deadlines.
The Iowa Arts Council is committed to providing reasonable accommodations to eligible applicants. For application support, please contact the Accessibility Coordinator, Lindsay Keast at 515-281-8352 or email@example.com, at least two weeks in advance of application deadlines.
Fiscal Year 2024 Application Deadline
The deadline to submit an online application to the program is May 1, 2023 at 11:59 p.m. for the designation period of July 1, 2023 - June 30, 2033.
Applicants will be notified of designation decisions by June 30, 2023.
Once designated, the state, through the efforts of the Iowa Department of Cultural Affairs, shall endeavor to promote projects and initiatives implemented by the Cultural & Entertainment Districts through established networks.
- Designated Cultural & Entertainment Districts are encouraged to use the “Iowa Cultural & Entertainment District” logo in marketing efforts and are provided marketing collateral, including an “Iowa Cultural & Entertainment District” sign. These signs serve to market and promote the district.
- Designated Cultural & Entertainment Districts will be included in the Iowa Creative Places Network which provides regular opportunities for connection through networking and learning opportunities with Creative Places across Iowa.
- Additionally, Iowa Department of Cultural Affairs staff will provide technical assistance to Cultural & Entertainment Districts, including communication on grant opportunities and professional development workshops
Iowa Cultural & Entertainment Districts Designation
To be designated, a Cultural & Entertainment District must already be an area where arts and cultural activities thrive. Designation by the state is an achievement, intended to formally recognize that a particular locale is an acknowledged cultural destination.
Before a Cultural & Entertainment District becomes designated by the state, it must be an established district that is widely viewed and readily recognized as a hub of cultural activity. It is a gathering place, filled with cultural facilities, arts organizations, individual artists or arts-based businesses, as well as an array of other uses such as office complexes, restaurants, retail spaces or residences. It has well-defined boundaries and people can sense when they have arrived at this unique place. We highly encourage districts to develop, implement and/or expand complementary incentives and programs that align with the designated area and provide details in their application. These incentives and programs should support existing and emerging cultural organizations and fit with your community.
Beginning one year after designation, Cultural & Entertainment Districts are expected to submit an annual report due August 1 to the Iowa Department of Cultural Affairs. The report will document the status of the Cultural & Entertainment District, including and update on the number of new businesses, activities and promotional efforts within the past year.
Per statute language, all designated Cultural & Entertainment Districts are required to apply for re-designation every ten years. The re-designation process will include updating information on the cultural district identity, operations and programming information, Cultural & Entertainment District assets, goals for the next ten years, accomplishments from the previous ten years and economic impact.
A single entity must be selected to serve as the primary applicant for designation, while incorporating collaboration between a consortium of partners. The selected entity must meet the definition of eligible applicant. The applicant will be responsible for submitting the annual report and will be the entity legally obligated to the terms of a Memorandum of Understanding if awarded designation. Partners and collaborating entities are not subject to the eligibility requirements.
Eligible applicants must be one of the following types of entities. Entities who do not meet these requirements are not eligible to apply.
- Federally tax exempt 501(c)3 nonprofit organization incorporated and physically located in Iowa
- Unit of local, county or federally-recognized tribal government physically located in Iowa
- For-profit or commercial entity physically located in Iowa
Physical location is defined as maintaining a current home office and registered agent address in Iowa defined by Iowa Code 490.501 as well as maintaining a primary staff presence physically located and working in Iowa.
Ineligible applicants include the following types of entities.
- Unit of state or federal government
- School or institution of higher education
- Religious organization, labor union, political party or national service/professional organization
- Iowa Department of Cultural Affairs grantees who have an outstanding final report or who have been placed on a department funding moratorium
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 iowaartscouncil.slideroom.com. Applicants must create a login to view the full application requirements for the program. Applicants can visit help.liaisonedu.com for SlideRoom assistance related to the online submission.
Designation Review Process
Department Eligibility Review
Full applications will be reviewed by staff for completion, eligibility and adherence to published 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.
Eligible applications will be referred to a competitive review by a panel of professionals with appropriate expertise commensurate to the purpose of the designation program. Applications will be scored and ranked based on the published scoring rubric. Recommendations are submitted to the Administrator of the Iowa Arts Council and Director of the Iowa Department of Cultural Affairs for consideration and approval.The applicant’s authorized official will receive designation notification. All 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.
Applicants will be notified of designation decisions by June 30, 2022. Applicants are notified of the status of their application whether they are or are not selected for designation. Applicants will be contacted if any additional information is required and are encouraged to refrain from contacting staff for application status updates until decisions are made.