By Robert Lynch, President & CEO, Americans for the Arts and Suku Radia, President and CEO, Bankers Trust Company
Creative placemaking — leveraging the arts to help shape and revitalize the physical, social, and economic character of neighborhoods, cities and towns — is a hot topic across the country right now, in light of the National Endowment for the Arts’ ArtsPlace America initiative. And utilizing the arts to effect a transformative impact on community vibrancy is something the greater Des Moines area has been doing, and doing successfully, for many years now.
Dating back more than a century with the “City Beautiful” program — which inspired the construction of some of Des Moines most beautiful Beaux Arts public buildings, including the World Food Prize Hall of Laureates, the Polk County Administrative Building and the City Hall — Des Moines and its residents knew that the best way to attract people and businesses was to ensure their city was a place where residents could not just work but truly live. And they knew a thriving arts community was the best way to ensure Greater Des Moines would always be an attractive and energetic place.
The drive for and successes of quality creative placemaking in Greater Des Moines are still going strong today. The Greater Des Moines region has a range of diverse arts, cultural and heritage offerings. The city boasts numerous museums, and performing and visual arts options are plentiful.
In addition, the city’s architectural heritage is significant. What’s more, Des Moines’ commitment to arts and culture, as part of its very fabric, is evident from the moment you arrive in town and see both the Pappajohn Sculpture Park and the soon-to-be-completed Principal Riverwalk.
Without the arts, Greater Des Moines would not be the culturally vibrant place it is today. But it takes a team to create and sustain an arts sector as rich and diverse as Greater Des Moines’. And one of the key players in the city’s arts funding ecosystem is its business sector.
Greater Des Moines’ dynamic arts community exists in part because many local business leaders have ensured their companies have engaged in deep partnerships with Greater Des Moines’ arts sector throughout the years. These leaders have a clear understanding that arts and culture are essential to the health and vitality of the community. But they also know that when their company’s partnership with the arts goes deeper than mere sponsorship, they will see the positive impact that partnership rewards to the company’s own bottom line.
And in this current economic environment, businesses are continually seeking new ways to build their competitive advantage. To help them reach this goal, in January, Americans for the Arts, the nation’s leading nonprofit organization for advancing the arts and arts education, launched The pARTnership Movement, a new initiative designed to create mutually beneficial partnerships between arts and business institutions.
Read the entire op-ed in The Des Moines Register.
Jaume Plensa (Spanish, born 1955)
Painted stainless steel
324 x 204 x 216 inches
Promised gift from John and Mary Pappajohn to the Des Moines Art Center
Photography © Cameron Campbell