DES MOINES – A robot helps cancer patients take virtual tours of an art museum. Communal dinners serve guests a taste of history. A restored courthouse clock tower will keep on ticking for another 100 years.


These are just three of more than 200 statewide projects that received more than $2 million in highly competitive grants announced today by the Iowa Department of Cultural Affairs.


Two Perry organizations were among those receiving grant funds. Art on the Prairie received a $10,000 Art Project Grant for a public sculpture that pays tribute to the overlapping history of farming, industry and railroads in Perry.


Hometown Heritage received a $5,000 Capacity Building Grant to support the operating expenses of the organization.


“These grants are catalysts that can spark cultural and economic growth in historic downtowns, concert halls and, possibly, the studio of a future Grant Wood,” said Chris Kramer, acting director of the Iowa Department of Cultural Affairs. “We’re proud to help Iowans make our state a culturally vibrant place to live, work and play.”


This year the department received a slight increase in funding from state and federal officials, a reflection of widespread support for Iowa arts, history and culture. During the current cycle, the department received support from the Iowa Legislature’s General Fund, the National Endowment for the Arts and the National Park Service Historic Preservation Fund.


Research shows that investments in arts and culture — in museums, performances and historic buildings, for example — help communities boost tourism, attract businesses, retain workers and improve the overall quality of life for residents. Accordingly, the Iowa Department of Cultural Affairs helps Iowans invest in the people, places and points of pride that define our state.


For the new fiscal year that started July 1, the department has awarded a total of $2,091,162 in 210 grants through two of its divisions, the Iowa Arts Council and the State Historical Society of Iowa. The grants range from a few hundred dollars for individual artists and historians on up to $50,000 for historic preservation projects. In addition, grants ranging from $10,000 to $20,000 were awarded to 43 Cultural Leadership Partners – anchor organizations across the state that significantly contribute to their surrounding regions.


The Iowa Arts Council awarded a total of $1,403,265 in the following categories:


Art Project Grant


Capacity Building Grant


Cultural Heritage Project Grant


Cultural Leadership Partner Operating Support Grant


Iowa Artist Fellowship Program


School Arts Experiences


The State Historical Society of Iowa awarded a total $687,897 in the following categories:


Historical Resource Development Program


Country School Grant Program


Research Grant for Authors


The list below includes eight of the projects that received grants, including:


Homegrown dinners at the Communal Kitchen Museum in the Amana Colonies, where guests will be hosted by descendants of local residents who practiced communal living from 1855 to 1932. ($5,760 to the Amana Heritage Society)


Research to support the nominations of six Cherokee properties to the National Register of Historic Places. ($7,742 to the Cherokee Historic Preservation Commission)


Restoration of the 1896 clock that tops the Clayton County Courthouse in Elkader. ($50,000 to Clayton County)


A Latin music festival in Des Moines. ($10,000 to the Warren Morrow Latin Music Festival)


A visit from Nobuntu, a female a cappella quintet from Zimbabwe, who plans to perform in Orange City and empower women of all backgrounds, especially those who have survived domestic violence. ($7,100 to the Orange City Arts Council)


A public sculpture that pays tribute to the overlapping history of farming, industry and railroads in Perry. ($10,000 to Art on the Prairie)


A remote-controlled robot named Genie, which allows home- or hospital-bound cancer patients to take virtual tours of the Figge Art Museum in Davenport. ($7,898 to Living Proof Exhibit)


Restoration of a 102-year-old Lincoln Highway bridge in Tama. ($50,000 to Prairie Rivers of Iowa Resource Conservation and Development)


To learn about more projects – especially those in your community – contact the Iowa Department of Cultural Affairs at 515-281-5111 or see the full list of grant recipients at iowaculture.gov.