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Iowa West starts its funding pledge for new arts center

October 13, 2016 GMT

The Iowa West Foundation on Wednesday announced initiative funding for a Council Bluffs arts and entertainment center to the tune of $2,325,369.

This gift, with more to follow, will help renovate the vacant Harvester II building on South Main Street into a permanent home for creative enthusiasts under the direction of the newly-formed Pottawattamie Arts, Culture and Entertainment – PACE – organization and its partners.

“The Iowa West Foundation has made a commitment to fund $7 million (of the project),” said Pete Tulipana, foundation president and CEO. “We think it’s important to the community.”

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Speaking on behalf of the PACE organization, Interim Executive Director Judy Davis expressed excitement about this initiative funding announcement.

“The funding from the Iowa West Foundation brings us that much closer to being able to realize the dream of an arts and culture center that can accommodate everything from live music to theatre to ballet,” she said.

Proposed plans for the Harvester II building include a cafe on the main floor with space for traveling exhibits. Rehearsal space for plays and classrooms could make up a portion of the second floor, with more exhibit space and a community area for large gatherings on the upper two floors.

A public lobby would be part of the work, along with a 245-seat theater for local plays, ballet and musical performances.

This building is to the west of the Harvester I, or Harvester Lofts, an apartment building where many artists live and work.

“We think it’s a wonderful expansion of the Harvester I building,” Tulipana said.

Total project cost is $18 million, he said, with some of that expected to come from federal and state tax credits.

Beyond the foundation’s $7 million commitment, $9 million is being raised from other sources, Tulipana said.

In addition to new entertainment and related learning opportunities for the public, the center could also house the many small arts organizations in southwest Iowa, where they could combine resources allowing performers to focus more on entertainment leaving others to do administrative and marketing work, Tulipana said.

He estimated renovation will begin in 2018 and be completed the following year.

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