Who We Are
The Grinnell Area Arts Council is a non-profit organization serving the community of Grinnell, Iowa. Our organization was founded in 1979 with the mission to enrich the community by supporting creative expression. To fulfill this mission, we offer a diverse portfolio of arts programming to community members of all ages and backgrounds.
We are the administrative heart for a number of programs, including Grinnell Community Theatre, Turlach Ur Pipe Band, the MLab, Music+Health, Grinnell Community Band, and Music in the Park, as well as our own educational arts programming. We operate two physical locations, the Grinnell Arts Center (926 Broad Street) and the Stew Art Studios (927 Broad Street), which hold work, gallery, and performance spaces.
The Arts Academy provides quality after-school, evening, and weekend arts-related classes and workshops for students and adults year-round.
Academy programming creates a student-centered environment in which individual activities and group projects foster creative exploration through the arts, with emphasis placed on the creative process and experimentation.
Courses are directed by professional educators or local artists with teaching experience and are assisted by Grinnell College students and community volunteers.
Visit our CLASSES page to sign up for current offerings.
Please CONTACT US if you are interested in teaching a class.
Our after-school arts program offers K-6 students the opportunity to explore and participate in a variety of hands-on art projects. Led by an outstanding team of teaching artists and volunteers, our diverse projects often incorporate science, math, music, literature, and more!
Students are encouraged to unlock their creativity and activate their imagination!
Click HERE to check out our blog full of past projects!
Sign up on our CLASSES page!
Scholarships available, CONTACT US for more information.
Class supplies and materials have been funded in part by the generous sponsorship of the Center for Humanities and the Office of Community Enhancement and Engagement at Grinnell College.
Formerly housed in the Community Center as the Mayor's Art Gallery, the Stewart Gallery has been a core component of the visual arts in Grinnell for over a quarter of a century.
The gallery hosts a new show about once a month, featuring the work of local and regional artists as well as students from the community schools and our own Studio 6 program.
Stew Art Studios
Stew Art Studios, or "The Stew", is a program and facility created and supported by and for the creative community. Located at 927 Broad Street, the downtown storefront is right across the street from the Arts Center (the old Stewart Library, namesake of the Stew). The Stew houses our ceramics studio, the MLab, a maker space, and community space for educational workshops, performances, and more. You can read more about the different studios and programs (including classes and events) HERE.
The Grinnell Community Band (formerly the Grinnell Municipal Band) became a program of the Arts Council in 2011.
The band played its first concert on June 15, 1988 with Jack Williams directing. The band’s original board of directors included J.R. Paulson and Larry and Elsie Johnson.
In 1989, the band staged a performance on the Grinnell College’s football field to celebrate the centennial of the first intercollegiate football game played west of the Mississippi.
A year later, the City of Grinnell constructed a gazebo-style bandstand in Central Park which the community band dedicated as part of the town’s 4th of July celebrations. The band has played regularly at the gazebo since that time.
For more information visit us on Facebook
Interested in joining Community Band? Contact Levi Dressler at firstname.lastname@example.org
Music in the Park
This summer concert series began in 2002 as a collaboration among the Arts Council, Chamber of Commerce and City Tourism. Between May and August we host a variety of local and touring performers, typically scheduled on Thursday evenings at Central Park, in conjunction with the Farmer's Market.
The Arts Council arranges the schedule, recruits sponsors, books musicians, promotes the event, and supervises each performance. Work on the concert series typically begins in January. Local support helps underwrite the performance fees of the musicians.
Past performers include Grinnell's own Too Many String Band and Turlach Ur, polka favorites Barefoot Becky and the Ivanhoe Dutchmen, and Iowa legends Bob Dorr and the Blue Band.
If you are a performer and would like to be considered for the coming year, or your business would be interested in sponsoring one or more evenings of the concert series, please contact us. Check HERE for the seasonal lineup!
Turlach Ur Pipe Band
Not every community arts organization in the Midwest can boast of supporting a Scottish bagpipe band, but this is Grinnell!
Founded in 2007 and affiliated with the Arts Council since 2010, the Turlach Ur now boasts a roster of 25 pipers and drummers. More than half of the band members are junior players, ranging in age from 10 to 17. Together, the junior players comprise Turlach Ur's increasingly popular youth band, the Turlach Urchins.
Turlach Ur is both a competition and concert band. 2015 brought numerous first place finishes at Highland Games throughout the Midwest, including in the Grade 5 single event and aggregate Midwest championships. The band was promoted to Grade 4 at the end of 2015.
Turlach Ur performs concerts regularly both in Grinnell and beyond. The band is recognized widely for its unusually fun and innovative shows.
Turlach Ur holds weekly practices and monthly group lessons at which all levels come together for instruction in small groups (and lunch in a big group!).
Contact Rob Clower, the band's Pipe Major, or visit their website or Facebook page to learn more about the group.
Music + Health Program
The Music + Health Program supports music experiences to improve the quality of life for individuals in need in the Grinnell community. These might include people in a hospital ward or residing in nursing homes, home-bound individuals, and those suffering from physical or mental health issues or disabilities.
One of the main goals of the program is to present music as an experience to improve the quality of life for individuals.
Learn more about the Music + Health program and how you can support it on the program page.
The Loft Theatre
Opened in August 2014 to become the new home for the Grinnell Community Theatre, the Loft Theatre was created to serve as a venue for not only theatrical performances, but also events such as concerts, film screenings, and other presentations. The Loft Theatre is a blackbox style space: intimate and adaptable. It can accommodate between 65 and 100 audience mem
Grinnell Community Theatre
For over 40 years, the Grinnell Community Theatre has staged live theatrical plays and musicals by the community, and for the community.
Started in 1972 as a joint project of the Grinnell Parks and Recreation Department and the Community Art Association (a predecessor of today's Arts Council), the founding group included Jeanne Burkle, Ned Donahoe, Marion Jones, Esther Bethel, Betty Moffett, Dick Cervene, Mary Baumgartner, Tom Latimer, Dorothy Pinder, John Kintzinger, Bob Sheeder, Bill Vanderpool, and others.
Kings, Queens and Pawns, directed by Ned Donahoe, was the first production on November 16 - 17, 1972 in the basement of the Veterans Memorial Building in Central Park. Tom Latimer, then director of the Grinnell Parks and Recreation Department, wrote a successful $2,000 grant application to the Iowa Arts Council to underwrite production costs.
Performances have been presented in a variety of locales around Grinnell including the United Church of Christ Friendship Hall, the B.G. Voertman Theatre, Grinnell College's Arena Theatre, Grinnell Country Club, Grinnell Elks Club, Grinnell Steakhouse, and Grinnell High School Auditorium.
The Loft Theatre, on the upper level of the Grinnell Arts Center, became the Community Theatre's new home in September 2014 with its production of Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike, directed by Michael Hunter.
The historic Stewart Library, located at 926 Broad Street, is home to the Grinnell Area Arts Council. Housed within are the Stewart Gallery, Founder's Lounge, the Loft Theatre, education spaces, and our administrative offices.
Our second building, Stew Art Studios, is located at 927 Broad Street (just across the street from the Stewart Library). Currently, The Stew contains our ceramics studio, the MLab, and two studio spaces with high ceilings and natural light, along with a few private storage rooms. Click here for more information about The Stew.
Each space is available for rent. We prioritize community non-profits and art-related projects and events, but we are also available for wedding receptions and other private parties. If you are interested in renting our facilities, please contact Erik@grinnellarts.org
We are always in need of volunteers. Whether you can help out once a year, or once a week, we appreciate your help! Regular volunteer needs include theatre ushers, gallery docents Saturday mornings, and other special events (such as Music in the Park).
Do you have a creative skill or talent you would like to teach? We'd love to hear more about it!
Past classes include drawing, ceramics, creative writing, and theatre. Take a look at our current offerings for specific ideas. Our education program typically runs in three seasons: winter / spring, summer, and fall.
CONTACT US today if you are interested in teaching a class.
Local Artisan Markets
In concordance with our mission to support a creative community, we periodically hold pop-up retail markets featuring the work of local artists.
Typically held at The Stew, our markets include a wide variety of items such as lamps, knitted & crocheted works, paintings, woodwork, pottery, and more!
Board of Directors
Tim Dill President
Levi Dressler Vice President
Darcy Dawson Treasurer
Anna Halpin-Healy Secretary