Vesterheim is pleased to announce that it received three recent grants – $20,000 as a Cultural Leadership Partner, from the Iowa Arts Council, a division of the Iowa Department of Cultural Affairs for operating support; $50,000 from Arts Midwest and The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation through The United States Regional Arts Resilience Fund; and a Council Conducted Partnership (CCP) from Humanities Iowa for Phase II of the Heritage Park signage project.

Arts and culture organizations play a vital role in communities, providing a significant boost to the local economy through programs and events—especially in rural areas.

“Vesterheim Museum fulfills that role by acting as a catalyst, bringing over 15,000 visitors to our state and community with our exhibitions, folk art classes, and events. While Covid-19 has placed in-person activities on pause, we are actively connecting with folks near and far, and we look forward to a time when it is safe to gather,” Marcia McKelvey, Vesterheim Director of Administration, said.

“The museum extends our sincere appreciation for the Iowa Arts Council’s service and dedication to uplifting arts and culture in our state, to Arts Midwest and The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation for support in offering programs for families during the pandemic, and to Humanities Iowa for a Council Conducted Partnerships to support our new Heritage Park,” Marcia McKelvey, Vesterheim Director of Administration, said.

The Iowa Arts Council Grant

In all, the Iowa Arts Council awarded $2,018,052 through 176 grants across the state for community initiatives, creative projects, cultural organizations, small businesses, and individuals.

“These funds are critical to help sustain arts, film, heritage and cultural vibrancy across the state and showcase Iowa’s world-class cultural programs and destinations with help from our state’s hard-working artists, historic caretakers and creative business owners,” said Chris Kramer, director of the Iowa Department of Cultural Affairs. “It is important that we support our creative economy when this sector needs it more than ever.”

“Through this funding we hope to provide cultural experiences in our rural communities and larger cities with a challenge to promote diversity and inclusion,” Director Kramer added.

Arts Midwest and The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation

The United States Regional Arts Resilience Fund is a national recovery initiative helping under-resourced arts and culture organizations weather the Covid-19 crisis. The fund began in June 2020, when each of America’s six Regional Arts Organizations, a national collective of place-based nonprofit arts service organizations, received allocations of a $10 million emergency grant from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation. To distribute its $1.5 million share, Arts Midwest shaped an equity-focused trust-based philanthropic investment model to ensure that rural communities, Indigenous communities, and communities of color were integral voices in the funding process.

The funds received by Vesterheim will support the museum’s Resilience Plan to create and facilitate free or low-cost intergenerational Scandinavian-themed online programming.

Staff have pivoted during the pandemic to create connections through virtual formats, especially for families and local schools. Vesterheim is delivering digital programs that are accessible and affordable, build community, support artists, and transmit folk art and culture across generations. The programs include: Barnetimen (Childrens Hour), Family Book Adventures, Bokprat (Book Talk), and Family Handcraft at Home.

Over 500 Midwestern organizations were nominated for grants and 30 were selected to receive funds. The United States Regional Arts Resilience Fund’s goal is to invest in historically under-resourced arts and culture organizations across the United States as they work to weather the COVID-19 pandemic. In line with these priorities, 22 of the funded organizations are led by and serving people of color and/or Indigenous communities, and 11 are based in rural areas.

“These organizations play a critical role in the civic and economic vitality of our communities and are core to our quality of life in the Midwest,” says Torrie Allen, President and CEO of Arts Midwest. “We are proud to be partnering with our state arts agencies, the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, and our fellow U.S. Regional Arts Organizations on this recovery effort, and are humbled by the continued need for support within and beyond these communities.”

Council Conducted Partnerships (CCP) from Humanities Iowa

Council Conducted Partnerships are funding partnerships between Humanities Iowa and eligible non-profit organizations. A one-to-one cash match is required and proposals are accepted year-round.

Vesterheim’s CCP funds will support the installation of interpretive signs for the 12 historic buildings in the new outdoor Heritage Park. The signs share information and images about the builders and users of the structures, and also place the structures in the broader context of local and national history.

Vesterheim is committed to telling the story of immigration through the Norwegian experience. Heritage Park will be open to the public and will have a positive impact on the community as a gathering and learning space.