PACE showcases what IWF can make possible
More than eight years ago in my first few months as the President and CEO of Iowa West Foundation – I started to hear the same story repeated over and over: the arts were in trouble in Council Bluffs and Pottawattamie County. Providers were operating on shoestring budgets, some with no physical location to call home. The enthusiasm was there, but the infrastructure was not.
A number of studies had been commissioned over the years all with similar results and recommendations. The only thing missing was the vision and the drive to act on said recommendations. Iowa West was asked to fill that role. Community members sought the Foundation’s help on two things:
- To create an organization with the capacity to deliver a robust menu of arts opportunities for Council Bluffs and Pottawattamie County, and
- To establish a new arts and culture center: a place that could serve as a safe and inspiring space for people of all ages.
Iowa West Foundation accepted the challenge.
Bringing multiple providers together around a common vision for the greater good meant that each of these organizations had to change in order to become stronger under and alongside PACE. And of course raising $27 million is not easy. But as Theodore Roosevelt once said, “Nothing worth having comes easy.”
The Iowa West Foundation Board of Directors was dedicated to making this happen early on. Their essential commitment resulted in one of the largest ever gifts in the history of the organization: $9 million. This lead funding was just the beginning of a series of instrumental gifts that paved the way for PACE to go from a dream to reality.
And while the Foundation will perhaps be remembered and recognized for its financial support of the project, I want to emphasize the tremendous efforts of the Foundation staff. First as a convener of the arts community to form PACE and second to lead the charge on the capital campaign. This effort involved every single staff person in some way. It’s why we call it an Iowa West Foundation initiative. Because it’s about more than the funding that makes a project like this possible.
I also want to take a moment to emphasize the why. The Iowa West Foundation truly believes that the arts are a critical component of a successful community. We understand the importance of children having access to their full creative potential. We envisioned a place like PACE’s home for the people of Pottawattamie County, a place where imaginations can run wild, where artists can thrive in a supportive, connected environment, where dance is performed and music is made for all walks of life to enjoy. And it turned out beautifully! I hope you’re as proud as I am. Because the Hoff Family Arts & Culture Center will be enjoyed by hundreds of thousands of people in the years to come.
Iowa West Foundation is grateful to be able to have helped make it happen.