Kinnick documentary, Iowa Writers' Workshop film receive piece of $2.1 million in grants

Iowa Department of Cultural Affairs awards Greenlight Grants for first time

Scott Siepker, also known as the Iowa Nice Guy, emcees #x201c;What's so funny?#x201d;, a humorous business breakfast in
Scott Siepker, also known as the Iowa Nice Guy, emcees “What’s so funny?”, a humorous business breakfast in April 2016 at Brown Deer Golf Club in Coralville. Siepker, of Des Moines, is among the inaugural recipients of four Greenlight Grants for film and media projects that tell Iowa stories. He received $20,000 to support postproduction of “Kinnick: The Definitive Documentary” about the life of University of Iowa football legend Nile Kinnick. (Liz Martin/The Gazette)

Iowa City filmmakers and the Cedar Rapids Ceramics Studio are among recipients of $2.1 million in art, film and history grants awarded by the Iowa Department of Cultural Affairs.

The department awarded more than 200 grants, including 16 in Linn County and 19 in Johnson County, funded by appropriations from the Iowa Legislature and the National Endowment for the Arts.

New this year are Greenlight Grants specifically for film and media projects that tell Iowa stories and will be produced in Iowa. The department awarded four Greenlight Grants, administered through a collaboration between the Iowa Arts Council and Produce Iowa, the state office of film and media production.

Three of the Greenlight Grants touch on Iowa City. FilmScene founder and associate director Andrew Sherburne received $50,000 to support production of “The Workshop,” a film about the University of Iowa’s Writers’ Workshop, and John Richard of Iowa City received $40,000 to support production of “The Iowa Mountaineers,” a documentary about an Iowa club that pioneered inclusive outdoor education.

Actor and writer Scott Siepker of Des Moines, known for his “Iowa Nice” videos, received $20,000 to support postproduction of “Kinnick: The Definitive Documentary” about the life of UI football player Nile Kinnick.

The fourth grant went to Colleen Krantz of Adel, who received $30,000 to develop “Complete Bull,” a television drama about a young woman in agriculture.

“These film and media projects feature interesting stories while also showcasing Iowa,” Chris Kramer, director of the Iowa Department of Cultural Affairs, said in a news release. “These projects represent Iowa as a place that values the creative sector as an economic driver, contributing to a productive business climate and a diversified economy.”

Arts and culture grants

The Iowa Arts Council awarded an additional $1,429,102 in grants supporting operations at various nonprofits and productions of theater, music, and public art projects.

Among those were:


• The Iowa Ceramics Center and Glass Studio, in the Cherry Building in Cedar Rapids, which received $5,400 to host international artist collective CREATURA to lead workshops to help recent immigrants tell their stories through art.

• The city of Marion, which received a $7,500 grant to hire seven Iowa musicians to bring 38 classical music concerts and educational events to Marion for the “Into Nooks and Crannies” project.

• A collaboration between PromptPress and the Center for Afrofuturist Studies in Iowa City, which received a $4,850 grant to create an interdisciplinary artist book that will be presented through a reading and art opening.

Historic preservation

The State Historical Society of Iowa awarded $538,000 in grants for research and projects supported by the Historical Resource Development Program, funded through Resource Enhancement and Protection, to preserve museum collections and country schools, invest in communities through historic preservation, and promote Iowa history.

The grant awards included $27,666 for digitization of the Darwin Turner Audio Collection at the UI Libraries, $17,900 to upgrade cabinets and drawers housing the UI Museum of Natural History mammal collections and $50,000 for preservation work at Brucemore in Cedar Rapids.

Iowa Great Places

Twenty-two communities also were redesignated as Iowa Great Places or Cultural and Entertainment Districts, with Lake View and the Clive Greenbelt added as new Iowa Great Places, and Cultural and Entertainment District designations added in Historic Valley Junction in West Des Moines, Mason City and Mount Vernon.

The Mount Vernon district is anchored by the First Street Community Center and Cornell College and includes 11 performance spaces, 22 arts and arts-related businesses, 17 food, drink and lodging establishments, and more than 20 specialty shops.

A full list of grant recipients and Great Space and Cultural and Entertainment District designations is available online. Information on applying for grants is at

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