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Des Moines Arts Festival

10 things you should know...

  1. The Des Moines Arts Festival is a 501c3 non-profit, stand alone, organization.

The Festival is not part of any other organization. It is its own 501c3 non-profit organization and generates an annual approximate economic impact of $8 million.

2. It’s a year-round organization.

The Des Moines Arts Festival organization operates year-round producing the annual outdoor festival and providing professional development opportunities and support for professional artists.

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3. The Festival is not just about 3 days. It’s about the other 362 days.

It’s about the students who create art in the classroom, then share that art at the Student Art Exhibition. It’s about the non-profits that manage a beverage booth to earn funds to send students on field trip to see a performance. It’s about seeing your favorite musician on the main stage and later listening to their music on the radio and remembering the fun you had seeing them perform live. It’s about picking out a piece of art that you love, taking it home and enjoying it all year round.

In January 2023 the Des Moines Arts Festival announced ARTSwork, a sister organization dedicated to supporting the creative community. Through this work, the following programs have launched: Creatives' Breakfast Club, Artist Connect, Iowa Artist Directory, MicroGrant Dinner, and Wine & Clay.

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5. The Festival is FREE for everyone in the community.

While the Des Moines Arts Festival provides free admission, activities, live music and more, it’s not an easy task to keep everything free. The Festival budget exceeds $1 million dollars. To meet these costs, we need the support of patrons, sponsors, participation fees, and on-site sales from our beverage stations and merchandise.

6. Buying a beverage at the Festival supports the Festival AND another non-profit organization.

The five festival beverage stations are managed and staffed by Community Youth Concepts, Cowles Montessori School Fine Arts Program, Perkins Elementary and the Des Moines Music Coalition, all 501c3 non-profit organizations. These organizations receive 15% of net sales and tips, resulting in thousands of dollars going directly back into the community.

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7. Live Music…for free.

The average concert ticket price in the United States is $88. At the Des Moines Arts Festival, its free. There is no other event or venue in Central Iowa offering this caliber of live music performances for free. Midwest ticket venues hosting this year’s headliner, Sister Hazel, charge between $62 and $72 per ticket this summer. Our community can see them for free.

8. Artists want to be here.

This year the Festival received over 850 applications for the 190 spots. Artist selection is done through a blind jury process – the jury ONLY sees their work and hears their artist statement.


9. ​We love Iowa artists.

Given that the artists are selected through a blind jury process, where they are from is out of our control, but we make sure that we bring in as much Iowa as we can in other areas.

  • 90% of the hired musicians are from Iowa

  • Curated Crafts beer trailers features craft beers from Iowa Breweries

  • The Emerging Iowa Artist program gives a free booth to Iowa artists

  • ARTSwork programming is focused on Iowa artists.

10. It's about community.

The Festival provides free space for 20 non-profit organizations to share their mission through the Community Outreach Program, and we showcase the work of nearly 400 students, grades K – 12th through the Student Art Exhibition. Approximately 800 individuals volunteer and we welcome 200,000 guests each year.

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When you donate to Des Moines Arts Festival, you will be preserving the landmark award-winning Des Moines Arts Festival and supporting the creative economy. Des Moines Arts Festival is a 501c3 non-profit organization whose mission is to impact lives through the arts.


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