“It Was Really Hard to Press the Send Button”: Community Arts Program Closes in Des Moines

August 21, 2017; Des Moines Register

The decades-old nonprofit Metro Arts Alliance of Greater Des Moines announced yesterday that it would close due to “financial realities that left few options.” Its board and staff made the “difficult decision on August 16, 2017, to cease operations after almost 42 years of providing access to the arts in our community.”

“It’s a sad day,” said executive director Angela Ossian. “We have been working on the messaging since last week, but it was still really hard to press the send button this morning.”

The work is done to bring in those funds and any nonprofit organization goes through this where you are getting low and you have the conversation about, “OK, what’s our strategy to help fill those gaps.” We were always on the optimistic side that our grants would come in and charitable giving and philanthropic support would be there. And it was, but it wasn’t enough.

Max Wellman, a musician, writer, and general manager of a local jazz club, said that the loss of Metro Arts could be “indicative of some of the challenges we in the arts community will face moving forward.”

“There are more and more artists producing work of a higher quality in central Iowa, but the support has stayed pretty much the same,” he said. “That community is spread pretty thin, so we have to find a way to galvanize more support to keep up pace.”

The exiting organization is searching for groups who will carry forth its youth programming.

“Closing down an organization and its programs is not an easy decision for nonprofit leaders to make,” Ossian said in the email. “It required tough decisions about services, personnel, and—most importantly—the communities and constituents served by Metro Arts Alliance.”—Ruth McCambridge