Drake, Bravo announce formation of cultural planning initiative for central Iowa

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Wednesday, August 3, 2016

Drake University President Marty Martin and Bravo Greater Des Moines announced today the formation of a cultural planning initiative for central Iowa.

The Regional Cultural Assessment will build from existing community-wide planning projects such as Capital Crossroads and The Tomorrow Plan to identify and prioritize opportunities to enhance and leverage the arts as an essential driver of quality of life and economic development in central Iowa.  

“As central Iowa positions itself to build on current momentum as one of the nation’s most attractive regions for businesses, careers, and families, now is the time to further place the arts at the center of dialogue about civic life and community development,” said Sally Dix, executive director of Bravo Greater Des Moines, the organization funding the assessment. “This work will clearly define opportunities for the cultural community to thrive.”

President Martin, who has been very impressed by the richness and diversity of the Des Moines arts community since moving to the city from Spokane, Wash., last year, will chair the steering committee for the project. Other members include:

Pamela Bass-Bookey, President, Temple for Performing Arts LLC.
Jay Byers, CEO, Greater Des Moines Partnership
Tim Heaston, Vice President – Finance, ITA Group
Myrna Johnson, Executive Director, Iowa Public Radio
Izaah Knox, Executive Director, Urban Dreams
Sharon Krause, Owner, Dalla Terra Ranch
Jeff Russell, President and CEO, Delta Dental of Iowa
Brian Waller, President, Technology Association of Iowa

“Great communities have great universities, but great universities also need great communities,” said President Martin. “As we seek to attract top students to our colleges and universities, and to retain talented professionals in our workforce, quality of life provides a major competitive platform for central Iowa. Drake’s role in leadership of the Regional Cultural Assessment will extend the University’s community reach and strengthen the area’s pipeline to meet future workforce needs.”  

The Regional Cultural Assessment, including opportunities for community input, will be conducted throughout 2016 with priorities identified in early 2017.

A number of high-profile communities recognized for acknowledging the power of arts and culture to drive economy and quality of life have recently completed similar projects, including Denver, Chicago, Boston, Houston and Nashville.  Outcomes range from “Attract/retain artists and creative professionals (Chicago)” and “Expand programs that work (Nashville)” to “Arts, culture and creativity are fully integrated into daily life, work, and play in Denver.” Outcomes from Des Moines’ process will be unique to the region, but are intended to identify strategic levers that will yield high-impact results.

“This process will provide both a snapshot of where our region sits currently and also a vision for a path forward,” Dix said.  “The priorities identified will provide a cohesive focus for employers, communities, organizations, leaders, funders, entrepreneurs, artists and advocates on ways to further leverage the arts to enhance shared regional objectives.”  


Bravo Greater Des Moines works to strengthen arts, culture and heritage organizations across central Iowa using an accountable, regional and collaborative model to provide funding and support. Using funds contributed by local government partners, Bravo invests in arts, culture and heritage organizations that contribute to and enhance the quality of life in Greater Des Moines for residents and visitors.  

Drake University is a midsize, private university in Des Moines, Iowa, enrolling more than 3,300 undergraduate and 1,700 graduate students from 40 states and approximately 40 countries. Students choose from over 70 majors, minors, and concentrations and 20 graduate degrees offered through six colleges and schools. Drake students, faculty, and staff take advantage of the wealth of cultural, recreational, and business opportunities found in Iowa's capital city. In return, Drake enriches the city through its own cultural offerings, considerable economic impact, and many service-learning endeavors, which channel the talent and energy of the Drake students toward meeting the needs of the community.