Des Moines Arts Festival Answers the Call from Creative Entrepreneurs
ARTSwork launches with a mission to positively impact the creative economy.

(Des Moines, IA) – The Des Moines Arts Festival is making a dramatic shift to expand its scope of work and launch new programming and tools designed to positively support creative entrepreneurs and advance the creative economy. Creative entrepreneurs take their work and create a business model around selling their product or service to sustain a living for themselves. This can include artists (painters, ceramicists, designers, writers, illustrators), makers (jewelry, hatters, florists), and movers (dancers, musicians, actors).

To begin this work, the organization is launching ARTSwork. The new arts organization recognizes that a thriving arts ecosystem is anchored by successful creative entrepreneurs, strong arts organizations and world-class arts and cultural institutions. As business and civic leaders continue to recognize the role the arts play as an economic driver as well as enriching the cultural vitality of the region, ARTSwork will focus on professional development and capacity building for independent artists of all disciplines with a shared vision to advance sustainable careers.

ARTSwork extends the organization’s four primary strategic initiatives – Expand Support for Artists, Arts Year-Round, Inclusivity, and Elevate the Impact of the Arts in the region. All of these initiatives are rooted in the Central Iowa Regional Cultural Assessment and supported by the Capital Crossroads Vision Plan catalyst priorities. The Assessment identified individual artists and creative entrepreneurs as Des Moines’ arts and culture ecosystem cornerstones. It also called for the “strengthening of the creative economy by developing the talent and skillsets of creative entrepreneurs and artists” as one of the four cultural priorities. ARTSwork will emerge in 2023 with three significant programs that will join the work started in 2022 with the MicroGrant Dinner, A Seat at the Table and Wine & Clay.

First, in partnership with the Iowa Center for Economic Success, the organizations are presenting a new professional development series designed for creative entrepreneurs called the Creatives’ Breakfast Club. Like a rotary group or chamber, the Creatives’ Breakfast Club will meet monthly and provide the entrepreneur’s career development and education. Each session will feature a guest presenter who is an expert in a field applicable to the creative’s needs. More importantly, the presentations are followed by training opportunities or one-on-one professional consultations.

Next, working in partnership with the Iowa Arts Council and several non-profit arts organizations, including Des Moines Music Coalition, Ballet Des Moines, and Iowa Stage Theatre Company, the organization is developing a new website to serve as both an Artist Directory, an online resource for the public searching for creatives and creative services, and an Artist Resource Directory, an online hub for creatives to search for grants, public art projects, commissions, auditions, performances, art shows, festivals, and all other opportunities that call for artists across Iowa. The goal is to have the sites available by summer.

Artist Connect will connect the education community to artists. The program pays professional artists to demonstrate their work and showcase their skills and working studios to students, ages 5 – 18, and their teachers. The interactive educational program is at no cost to the schools and is made possible by a Community Betterment grant from Polk County and a grant from the Iowa Arts Council.

“All of these programs were developed following a series of studies which focused on assessing the needs of artists in the local ecosystem,” said Stephen King, Executive Director of the Des Moines Arts Festival. “The studies showed a great need for cross-discipline artist networking and life-long learning opportunities to ensure a variety of access points for artists at all stages of artistic development.”

The new programming is a further example of the Des Moines Arts Festival’s expansion into supporting the needs of creative entrepreneurs in Central Iowa. In 2022, the organization successfully launched arts-centered events, MicroGrant Dinner and Wine & Clay, while continuing its work producing A Seat at the Table and 25th Anniversary Des Moines Arts Festival. All of these programs will continue in 2023.

About the ARTSwork and Des Moines Arts Festival. ARTSwork and Des Moines Arts Festival® are committed to strengthening a vibrant and creative community. Dedicated to the principles of collaboration and creative expression, the ARTSwork and Des Moines Arts Festival inspire engagement with the arts, fosters and celebrates inclusion, values professionalism and quality, and champions new and emerging ideas.

ARTSwork and Des Moines Arts Festival produces an annual outdoor festival celebrating arts and culture, provides programming and support to artists and arts organizations, advocates for an “arts first” leadership model, and inspires individuals to find their creative voice.

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