The Iowa Department of Cultural Affairs is awarding more than $2.1 million in grants to support dozens of projects and organizations across the state, including everything from theatre performances to rural revitalization.
Pathfinders, a rural development nonprofit in Fairfield, is receiving $10,000 to help create a "Bale Trail," sculptures made of hay bales to be set up along the Historic Hills Scenic Byway in southeast Iowa. The plan is to put them up in time to catch the attention of RAGBRAI bike riders passing through later this month.
"We're hoping that some of the people who come here might see our unique little rural communities and decide that they would like to bring a business or come here as their home," said project coordinator Diana Hughell.
4-H and FFA groups are helping connect farmers and local businesses to create the hay bale sculptures, Hughell said.
Several other grants will support historic preservation projects. The Taylor County Historical Society in southern Iowa is receiving $50,000 to help repair the roof of an historic round barn. A $27,666 grant to the University of Iowa Library will help digitize hundreds of audio recordings from Darwin Turner, a longtime English professor who studied African-American literature.
Four film projects are receiving greenlight funding, including a production describing itself as the "definitive documentary" of Iowa football legend, Nile Kinnick, who won the Heisman Trophy in 1939 but died when he crash-landed during a training flight while serving in the Navy in 1943.
Money for the grants comes from a combination of state appropriations and funds from the National Endowment for the Arts.