Through the Strengthen Grow Evolve campaign, now in its final act, we hope to build the greatest small city for the arts here, in Iowa City
Four years ago, board members and staff from FilmScene and The Englert Theatre first gathered at a table to imagine a collaborative campaign. We had begun the conversations focused on our buildings, the historic and the still-to-be-built. We were talking bricks and glass, soundboards and screens.
Then the “what” became “why.” Why are we doing this? Our world-class facilities are important, but they are only good in service of our mission.
What more could we do if we expanded our collaboration with a vision of evolving our programming, increasing access and positioning the arts as a bridge to inclusivity? Could we aspire to build the greatest small city for the arts here in Iowa City?
► More from the Strengthen Grow Evolve campaign's steering committee, in November: This giving season, consider supporting the Strengthen Grow Evolve campaign and the future of the arts in Iowa City
Now, FilmScene and The Englert Theatre are in the closing act of our Strengthen Grow Evolve campaign and that vision again comes to the forefront.
The challenges of 2020 have reinforced the essential nature of the arts. We also have been presented a unique opportunity — or more, a mandate — to reimagine society with justice and equity at its heart. The arts bring us together, reinforcing a sense of commonality. The arts feed our souls, provide the beat to our hearts, inspire our curiosity.
Our work also encourages conversations, reveals truths and spurs real change. To invest in the arts is a commitment toward an ongoing pursuit of a better world.
Strengthen Grow Evolve will support the futures of The Englert Theatre and FilmScene: Despite this challenging year, securing our facilities for the future, investing in arts education, access and community engagement, and devoting funds toward our resiliency efforts.
Many of our Strengthen Grow Evolve campaign goals have been met. FilmScene at The Chauncey opened in 2019 (and will return to operations this year), we helped found the Iowa City Downtown Arts Alliance and, just last week, we celebrated the return of the iconic Englert Theatre marquee with a ceremonial lighting event.
Our full recovery and readiness to thrive in the post-pandemic world depend on reaching our $5.5 million campaign goal. We ask that everyone in our community commit to the work of making Iowa City a great place, and embracing the unique power of art to lead the way.
The arts are poised to return in 2021 if they are well-funded, and we are eager to get busy with the necessary work of building a great small city for the arts and a great small city for all the people who call it home.
Andre Perry and Andrew Sherburne are executive directors of the Englert and FilmScene, respectively.