The Arts

Gallagher Bluedorn Performing Arts Center

Connecting People Through the Arts

COVID-19 hit the fine and performing arts hard. The Gallagher Bluedorn Performing Arts Center at the University of Northern Iowa in Cedar Falls was not immune, having to shutter its doors to the thousands of guests who count on the GBPAC for world-class live performances. Chad Allen, GBPAC director of development, viewed it as a true loss for the community to miss these shared experiences that touch our hearts, engage our senses, and unearth emotions.  

Undeterred, the staff at GBPAC pivoted to bring this community into people’s homes, livestreaming performances online and bringing Kaleidoscope, a powerful arts educational series, to kids’ living rooms in Iowa and across the globe. Then, as it became safer to gather outdoors, GBPAC introduced Block Parties. These outdoor performances in neighborhoods across the Cedar Valley provided a way to bring back a sense of community. Through the Community Foundation of Northeast Iowa’s Bringing Neighbors Together grant program, GBPAC received funding for concerts to bring people together when they needed it most.

“People were so excited to get out of their house and to see live performances again. They were just so delighted to have an actual band in their neighborhood, and they were really excited to see their neighbors, because everybody had been cloistered in their home. It was an overwhelming sense of joy.”

– Chad Allen, GBPAC director of development 

Our actions to support a vibrant arts community:

Dollars Granted in 2021 to Arts & Culture Projects
Grants Made in 2021 to Arts & Culture Projects

Limelight Cedar Valley

The Cedar Valley is an arts-rich community and the impact of this thriving arts sector is undeniable. Not only do the arts drive economic growth and raise a community’s quality of life, but they bring joy and uplift us. Limelight Cedar Valley is putting the spotlight on the arts, connecting artists and organizations to resources, prioritizing advocacy, and creating spaces for artistic expression and growth. The Community Foundation of Northeast Iowa has been part of the young organization’s journey through hands-on collaboration and grantmaking to help launch this new local hub for the arts.

“Limelight provides an entry point to the arts for all community members. The Cedar Valley is poised for great growth in arts and culture, and Limelight will be a partner in that success.”

Heather Skeens, Youth Art Team