Advocacy Intersections in Iowa
Successful advocacy depends on knowing how the government works. We all know that we have elected state representatives and senators who serve in Des Moines. Many of us receive grants from various state agencies. How do our elected officials, the state agencies and the Department of Cultural Affairs intersect?
All funding appropriations must be approved in the annual budget by vote by the State Senate and the State House of Representatives, then approved by the Governor. Normally, this is completed by April. Those funds are then released to the state departments, including the Department of Cultural Affairs (DCA).
The DCA is divided into two divisions :
• Iowa Arts Council (IAC)
• State Historical Society (SHSI)
o State Historical Museum
o Office of Historic Preservation
o State Archives and State Records Program
o Historical Libraries
o Historic Sites
• The DCA also houses the Iowa Great Places program
The Iowa Arts Council (IAC) receives funding from the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) which influences what kinds of grant programs their funds must be used for as well as how their grant programs are structured. The State Historical Society also receives federal funds from the National Park Service.
When you receive a grant from any division of the DCA, you should thank your legislators! Without their appropriations, we would receive no funding. And you should thank your U.S. Representative and Senators as well. It’s the support of our elected officials that makes our grants possible. The DCA provides the administration to facilitate the granting process.
Notes: National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) funds are channeled to Humanities Iowa (HI), based in Iowa City/Coralville. This organization is NOT under the auspices of the DCA!
The Iowa Museum Association (IMA) is the professional organization for Iowa’s museums (art, history, science, zoos, gardens). It is entirely separate from the Department of Cultural Affairs, although the organizations interact regularly.
The DCA, as a department of state government, may provide information about issues and bills in front of the legislature, but may not lobby legislators for or against a bill. If you work for a museum affiliated with a city, state or federal government agency, you are not allowed to lobby or advocate. But if you work for tax-exempt, 501(c)(3) organization, the IRS code “explicitly preserves your right to advocate on behalf of your museum and its mission.” [Gail Ravnitzky Silberglied, Speak Up for Museums: The AAM Guide to Advocacy, p. 1.]