Connecting Art And Business In New Program

Siobhan Spain, director of Mainframe Studios, is one of the minds behind the new Iowa Creative Incubator program hoping to connect artists with local businesses.

Writer: Luke Manderfeld

Earlier this year, Siobhan Spain and Beau Kenyon, two local art leaders, met at downtown’s Lua Brewing. They discussed a question: How can we connect businesses and artists to promote art within Greater Des Moines? This month, they announced their answer after months of work: the Iowa Creative Incubator.

The program is a four-month fellowship starting in March 2021 that will involve five local artists—Cameron Gray, Chrissy Jenson, DeAn Michael Kelly, Amenda Tate and Jill Wells—who will partner with local businesses and complete a project. With support from the Iowa Arts Council, the artists will work out of Mainframe Studios and receive up to 30 hours of customized professional development with Kenyon, a Des Moines-based arts consultant and composer. They will also gain access to a team of advisers and assistance in developing partnerships with Des Moines businesses and organizations. The end goal is to create art for commercial or public use.

“Being an advocate for the arts my whole life, it’s exciting to see this program expand possibilities and connections within the community,” says Spain, who initially pitched the idea to Kenyon. “I want to see that excitement and artists having more confidence that they can make a career in Des Moines.”

Many organizations are looking for ways to bolster Greater Des Moines’ art scene, but don’t know how to get involved, Spain adds. Through the Iowa Creative Incubator, companies can sponsor a project, but artists will have full autonomy. Funding and resources are coming from a variety of grant sources, including the Iowa Arts Council and Mainframe Studios.

“I love this opportunity to make a richer, vibrant culture between artists and businesses,” Kenyon says. “That cross-collaboration is so valuable.”

Find more information about the artists and program here.

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