October 22, 2021

Creston:Arts campaigns for cultural enrichment

For the first time, Creston:Arts — the nonprofit arts council with a mission to encourage cultural enrichment through art across Creston — is mounting a capital campaign. A letter has been sent to area residents asking them to contribute to support its efforts. Brian Zachary of Creston:Arts said they will be sending out similar letters three to four times a year.

Creston:Arts operates on a combination of private donations, the Creston Endowment for the Arts and grants written by the members of the council. Through a combination of grants, Blake Fry-Schnormeier said the group is able to double or even quadruple some of the money donated to Creston:Arts

"To get the endowment (from South Central Iowa Community Foundation), we have to put up $2,500 to get $5,000," Zachary said, noting that they are also required to add in $2,500 of in-kind donations, such as hours donated by local artists.

Zachary said they can then use the $5,000 to apply for the Iowa Art Council Project grant of $10,000.


Creston:Arts runs a yearly summer art camp for elementary and middle school students that also utilizes high school students or recent graduates alongside professional artists as instructors.

The White Dairy or Huff Bakery building at the corner of West Adams and North Division streets has recently been gifted to Creston:Arts by Iowa State Savings Bank. However, extensive renovations must be made before the building is able to be used. Creston:Arts member Brian Zachary said the plan is to make the building accessible to all before opening. The next letter sent out by Creston:Arts will focus specifically on the building.

The Creston Restored Depot houses a free public art gallery run by Creston:Arts, which is open six days a week. Each month, the gallery is filled with displays by an artist or group of artists with ties to Creston. Currently, art by former Creston resident Crystal Gibbens is displayed.

Chalk the Town is an annual event where artists and volunteers decorate Creston's sidewalks with temporary chalk art to celebrate the city during July 4th activities. Creston:Arts and participating businesses also hand out free sidewalk chalk to children during the festivities. This program is both an art installation and a fundraiser for Creston:Arts as participants pay a fee to have their businesses represented.

Public murals in and around Creston are a visible representation of the work Creston:Arts does. Not only do they provide free public art to be viewed by residents and visitors, the murals give Creston:Arts an opportunity to pair art students with professional artists.

Many of the murals have been created with the help of Creston Community High School art students under the guidance of teacher Bailey Fry-Schnormeier and partnering with local artists such as Tyler Downey.

Blake Fry-Schnormeier said theyl have plans for four to seven new murals in Creston in the coming months. He estimated the cost to complete four murals at $18,000. He said if the council receives more funding, they may be able to do even more murals.

These murals are designed to not only beautify Creston, but also to drive traffic to its uptown business in accordance with the recently completed Uptown Assessment. Currently the arts council is planning murals in the alleys of Uptown Creston and on the grain bins near the railroad tracks at New York Avenue. Business owners who would like Creston:Arts to assist them in developing and painting their own murals may contact any council member.

The capital campaign will allow Creston:Arts to continue its work in these areas as well as expand to hosting public art classes, adding additional art gallery space, inviting artists-in-residence to work in Creston and other projects.

Ways to donate

Those interested in supporting Creston:Arts may choose to donate to the operating fund or the endowment fund. Donations to can be made by mailing a check to 116 W. Adams St., Creston, Iowa 50801, or donating on-line at www.crestonarts.com/donate. Participants can also set up sustainable giving by donating a weekly or monthly amount. Call 641-247-1663 for more information