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2020 Artist Prospectus


Event Summary

The Des Moines Arts Festival® is one of the world’s most respected and honored festivals. Eleven-time winner of the coveted Grand Pinnacle Award from the International Festivals and Events Association (IFEA), the outdoor festival celebrating arts and culture attracts a wide range of people each year to its downtown location in Iowa’s capital city and largest metropolitan area. The Festival is consistently revered as one that places the success of artistry is implicit in their core values. The Festival hosts 180 artists in a beautiful urban street setting surrounding the 4.4 acres John and Mary Pappajohn Sculpture Park and the newly-constructed Krause Gentle Center designed by Renzo Piano Building Workshop. The Festival is a show dedicated to the highest standards of excellence that works diligently to maintain a positive environment for artists and their clients. The Festival is a non-profit organization founded by the Des Moines Art Center which contributes more than $65,000 annually from its proceeds to support the Des Moines Art Center, numerous area non-profit arts organizations, continuation of the Festival, and keeping your fees low.

The Fact Sheet

LOCATION: Downtown Des Moines, Iowa, on Locust Street and Grand Ave. between 16th Street and 10th Street.
EVENT NAME: Des Moines Arts Festival®
CONTACT: Stephen King, CFEE, Executive Director
MAILING ADDRESS: 700 Locust Street, Suite 100, Des Moines, IA 50309
TELEPHONE: 515.286.4927
PROCESS: If you are NOT an Emerging Iowa Artist you will select "ALL MEDIUMS." We do NOT jury by category or medium.
IMAGES: 5 images of work + 1 booth image
VIEWED: Projected simultaneously with image 1, 2, 3 on top from left to right, and 4, 5, booth from left to right, on bottom.
JURORS: 5 paid. Includes two invited (exempt) artists from 2019.
SCORING (see details below): Second round is scoring 1-7, no 4. All other rounds are a show of hands – majority moves the artist to the next round. Rounds continue until the final slate is selected.
JURY/APPLICATION FEE: $35 Oct. 7 – Jan. 6; $45 after Jan. 6.
BOOTH SPACE FEE: $475 for 10’x10’. An additional $150 is charged for a double deep booth and/or a corner booth.
CASH AWARDS: $10,050 at press time
BOOTH SPACE: 10’x10’ with 1’ buffer all around, most with abundant storage close to the booth. A limited number of 10’ (front) x 20’ (deep) interior and corner booths are available. We do not offer 20' wide booth spaces unless the artist is juried to show two bodies of work.
ELECTRIC: Provided. Generators not allowed.
PRODUCED BY: Downtown Events Group, 501(c)3 Non-profit corp.
ARTIST PRESENCE: All required (individual and partner(s)/collaborator(s)).
NO. OF EXHIBITORS EXPECTED FROM JURY POOL: Approx. 160 (we jury spaces with the final number of spaces available being 180)
NO. OF ARTISTS EXEMPT FROM JURY: At least 10 (award winners from previous year and special invitation)
SECURITY: 24-hour
PARKING: Free/reserved/off-site dedicated.
INSURANCE: Required. Upon acceptance, artists must provide Des Moines Arts Festival with an appropriate Certificate of Insurance, naming Des Moines Arts Festival as an additional insured pursuant to a general liability insurance policy with a minimum coverage of $1,000,000. Artists may not setup or exhibit until the approved certificate is received by the Festival office.
STRUCTURE: If using a tented structure, the tent must be commercial or professional grade with heavy weights (minimum of 40 pounds) on each corner with stabilizing maneuvers that provide maximum safety to artists and guests. The use of cheap accordion-style pop-up tents is expressly forbidden. The artist who ignores this rule will not be allowed to exhibit at the show and will not receive a refund of any sort as a result.

Artist Information and Benefits

  • 180 juried artist spaces
  • Projected Attendance – 200,000+.
  • Booth sitters and energetic volunteers.
  • $10, 050 in cash awards at the time of publication. $1500 to the Best of Show; up to five Awards of Excellence at $1000 each; three Juror Awards of $1000 each presented by each of the jurors; and the $1000 Leysens Family Award to the Best of Emerging Iowa Artist. These amounts may be altered by the jury, but the total will remain intact.
  • Each of the above awards includes an automatic invitation to the 2021 show.
  • Responsive website and integrated social media campaign
  • Official Festival Program includes a color thumbnail image of each exhibiting artist.
  • Website includes up to three full-color images with name, bio, live link to artist website, and email.
  • Free reserved parking.
  • Invitations to special events and receptions.
  • Hospitality area.
  • Air-conditioned restroom facilities.
  • Exclusive “Express Lane” concessions.
  • 24-hour security.
  • Free electricity.
  • Leisurely set-up (full day is available).
  • Comprehensive emergency/evacuation plan.
  • Booth Amenities.
    • 10' x 10' Booth with at least 121 square feet (1’ on sides and back).
    • All booths on street at press time.
    • Storage behind booth. Some booths will have 1’ behind booth, others a full sidewalk; however, keep in mind that these sidewalks are used for electric cords and passage by Gators and people.

Festival Hours

Friday, June 26
11 a.m. – 10 p.m.

Saturday, June 27
11 a.m. – 10 p.m.

Sunday, June 28
11 a.m. – 5 p.m.

Hours subject to change.

Important Dates

OCTOBER 7, 2019 - Application Available

OCTOBER 7 - 8, 2019 - Early Bird Application Opportunity. Apply Oct. 7 - 8 and your application fee is 50% off.

OCTOBER 9, 2019 - JANUARY 6, 2020 - Applications open.

JANUARY 6, 2020 - Application soft deadline

JANUARY 12, 2020 AT 8 A.M. CST - Application hard deadline

FEBRUARY 4 - 6, 2020 - Jury in Des Moines, IA

FEBRUARY - Notifications emailed.
Please note: we do NOT notify artists through ZAPP. You will receive an email from the DMAF office. We host an annual event called REVEAL. REVEAL is designed to reveal the artists selected by the jury to a discerning audience of arts patrons. Results of the jury are emailed after the event. We have not set a date for REVEAL 2020.

MARCH 27, 2020 - Deadline to confirm participation/Agreement and booth fee due

MAY 1, 2020 - Refund Deadline

About our Jury Process

Please Note: We do NOT jury by category or medium. When you apply, you will select “All Mediums” if you are a professional artist OR Emerging Artist if you are applying under the rules of the Emerging Iowa Artist Program.

The jury is scheduled for February 4-6, 2020. The location for the projection jury will be 700 Locust Street, Suite 100 in downtown Des Moines.

Applying artists and special guests are invited to a special Jury Preview on Wednesday, February 4 beginning at 5:30 p.m. Projection of images for the jury begins promptly at 6 p.m. The jury preview is an opportunity for artists to view their images at the same time and in the same manner, the jury will see them. An email notice with all the details will be sent to all applicants.

Approximately 160 spaces will be available via the jury process. An additional ten (10) booth spaces are reserved for 2019 award winners, and up to ten (10) spaces are reserved for special invitations.

Round One is a complete overview of all applicants. Each artist set of images will be projected for ten seconds. This occurs on the evening of Wednesday, February 4.

Round Two is the first scoring round. Each artist’s set of images will be projected for approximately eight seconds. After which the jury will begin scoring on a laptop in front of them while the six submitted images are projected in front of them. As the set of images is projected, the Artist Statement is read aloud. The jury will score each artist’s set of images a traditional 1 through 7, with no 4.

Round Three comes after all applying artists have been scored. After Round Two, a median score is determined, and all artists scoring under the median are removed. The artists remaining are first viewed again in a complete overview for 10 seconds each. We then go back to the beginning and display each artist’s set of six images. Each set of images is discussed and scored by the jury with a show of hands. A majority vote moves the artist into the next round. The artist’s set of images remain on the screen for as long as requested by the jury.

Round Four and Beyond – Any number of rounds now occur slowly balancing the show by making final selections. This and subsequent rounds are scored as described above – a majority show of hands moves the artist into the final round(s).

The jury uses the following standards to guide their decision:

  • Projection “blind" jury
  • The jury will view each artist’s set of six images. One of the six images shall be an actual image of the artist's booth showing the body of work. The images will be projected in two rows, three images on top and three images on bottom, simultaneously.
  • The ideal work will reflect excellence.
  • The work will be well conceived and expertly executed.
  • The work will show an identity of design.
  • All work must be original and made by the hand of the applying artist.
  • Artwork is considered solely on the merit of the work pictured. This and the submitted Artist Statement will be the only criteria considered. (See below regarding Artist Statement).
  • The work will be professionally and creatively presented. The better the image presented, the better your opportunity.
  • The work presented for jury will be representative of the artist’s body of work. If the work is not current, do not submit the image.

All applications from professional artists must submit an authentic booth image (that is, an actual photo/image of your booth).

  • Booth images may not be created in a computer program or manipulated, enhanced or otherwise affected by a computer in any way.
  • Booth images may not contain the artist name, company name or any other affiliation; artists may use Photoshop techniques to remove the name(s).
  • The booth image must include the entire booth, not a portion.
  • The booth image must be that of your outdoor booth (no indoor booth images).
Please Note: If you submit an application without the booth image or the booth image does not follow the criteria as stated here, your application will be returned to you. You may choose to re-submit the application under our rules. Regardless of whether you choose to re-submit the application under our rules, application fees will not be returned for not following the stated rules. Artists may choose to submit the image as is with the understanding that a full point will be deducted from the artist’s final score for not adhering to the guidelines above after being offered the opportunity to make a change.

A note about the booth image. The booth image shows the jury your body of work, provides dimension and scale, a sense of artistic and creative presentation, and reflects what your booth will look like at the show in June. It will also report to the jury if the work submitted in the individual images reflects your current style and overall body of work.

Please note that EIA’s will show a sixth image in place of the booth image.

Artist Statement

The application will automatically have a question for an artist's description of material and technique of up to 200 characters. You are encouraged to enter a description of material and technique that is concise and explains well the body of work. The jury responds best to a description of technique rather than how you are inspired. The first (up to) 200 characters of the submitted statement will be read aloud to the jury.

Based on past experiences in the jury room, the following are provided as a “good statement” and a “bad statement”

Good Statement = Photographs printed by artist over a layer of luminous gold paint onto powder-coated steel. Editions of 1.
Bad Statement = I take my photographs while contemplating my existence in the face of danger.


  • Festival will notify applicants of results using the email provided in your ZAPPlication.
  • In addition to the email notification, accepted artists will be posted on www.desmoinesartsfestival.org.
  • Results will not be given over the phone.

All decisions of the jury are final. DMAF reserves the right to reject any application if it does not comply with the covenants and rules set forth in this document.

Emerging Iowa Artist Program (EIA)

Iowa residents currently enrolled in or recently graduated (within one year) from a university, college or art school anywhere in the U.S. are eligible to apply to the Emerging Iowa Artists (EIA) program. This program provides individuals the opportunity to exhibit their talents and sell their artwork at the Des Moines Arts Festival. It also provides opportunities to artists beginning their careers.

Artists can participate in the EIA program for two years (either consecutively or non-consecutively). This program is free to qualified artists. There is no charge to submit images for the jury or for booth space once the work is accepted by the jury.

Qualified artists are required to apply to the show in the same manner as professional artists and submit their work in accordance with the specifications. All applicants are required to provide at the time of application proof of residency and enrollment to ensure the integrity of the program. All work submitted is juried by the same jury. All rules and submission requirements remain the same for EIA applicants.

If you are a qualified EIA, apply under the medium (category) "Emerging Iowa Artist." To waive the application fee, you must enter the coupon code EIA2020. The Festival will NOT refund the application fee if you do not enter the coupon code. Please note that DMAF requires a booth image from its professional artists as part of the application. EIA applicants will instead provide an additional image of their work in place of the booth image.

New Directions

New Directions is designed for professional visual artists (the distinction is made because of the emerging artists program) who are juried into the show and who, between the time they are juried and the date of the show, are exploring new directions in their current work. Exhibiting artists will have this opportunity available to them to introduce to our guests expressions of new art they are exploring.

All artists will jury with their body of work as they normally do. Upon acceptance into the show, artists will be notified of the details of the policies surrounding its integrity. Should any juried artist find themselves exploring a new direction with their work and wants to participate in the program, we will work with them on a case-by-case basis within a set of parameters that all involved (including the show) must follow.

In order to keep intact the decisions of the jury, we will institute a few parameters: new work may not occupy but a small percentage of the overall exhibit space; the work will be identified as “new work” within the exhibit space; the work must be an extension of the work juried into the show; the new work must be clearly defined within the exhibit; and it all must be original.


The DMAF considers its enforcement of the rules our exclusive right and responsibility. Festival officials will visit all displays at intervals throughout the Festival to ensure that exhibitors comply with all Festival rules, including but not limited to checking identification. Your submitted application and signature on the Artist Agreement (for those invited) is your indication that you agree that noncompliance can result in immediate expulsion and ineligibility for jurying, awards and participation in future Festivals. If an artist is removed from the show for non-compliance of the rules, no booth fee refunds will be issued nor compensation made, and the artist will be ineligible to exhibit for a period of at least two years.

1. All work exhibited must be original art produced by the exhibiting artist(s). Work done by a production studio, in classes or workshops, “Buy-sell” and/or imports, work from kits, commercial designs, and derivative work is prohibited. Artists selling work that is not their own will be expelled from the Festival.

2. It is the work of the artist that is juried. Therefore, any change in the overall body of work by the artist after the jury process accepts the juried work is not considered juried and may not be exhibited until approved by the director of the show. Please see the description of our New Directions program above. Absolutely no consideration will be made if the work is a different discipline.

3. Prints may only be exhibited by artists accepted in the printmaking category. Prints must be produced in signed, limited editions of no more than 250, which are hand-pulled by the artist.

4. No reproductions are allowed. If it’s a copy of any kind, regardless of medium, it may not be exhibited.

5. All artists associated with the juried work must be present to exhibit. If artists apply as partners, each artist must be present. If each artist is not present, the artist who is present will not be permitted to setup or exhibit. No proxy of any kind is permitted. If artists working as partners are found to apply as a single artist, the artist will be disqualified without a refund regardless of the calendar of stated deadlines.

6. Booth and display must remain intact during all hours of the show.

7. A photo ID is required at artist check-in by all artists, including partners, accepted to exhibit. In addition, the Festival reserves the right to check ID each day of the Festival to ensure the artist is present. Artists may NOT setup or have their booth setup until they have provided proof of their presence.

8. The sale of non-original promotional items is prohibited.

9. Artists are responsible for proper insurance and protection of work and setup. The DMAF will not be responsible for damage to work or setup for any reason. All artists are required to maintain and provide proof of insurance before they can setup and exhibit.

10. Artists are responsible for collecting and reporting all taxes, including Iowa sales tax.

11. We do not allow sharing of booths except under extraordinary circumstances and ONLY if prior approval is provided in writing from the director. Absolutely no consideration is given if the request is made at the time of set-up or during the show.

13. Artists are not permitted to use cheaply made, light-weight, accordion-style pop-up tents. The tented structure must be commercial or professional grade with at least 40 pounds on each corner and with stabilizing maneuvers that provide maximum safety to artists and guests. Any variation is prohibited and will result in the artist being excluded from the Festival without compensation or consideration.

In addition to the rules of exhibiting, the following guidelines/restrictions apply to the jury process:
Artists may submit multiple applications with a distinctly different body of work. Applications may NOT be of mixed work. Artists whose work is selected in multiple mediums are eligible for a single, double booth space.

Upon receipt of the application, the Festival reserves the right to return any application if it is deemed noncompliant or does not provide the information requested. If you submit an application that does not follow the criteria as requested, your application may be returned to you for modification. Application fees will not be returned or refunded. Artists may choose to submit the application as-is with the understanding that a full point may be deducted from the artist’s final first-round score for not adhering to the guidelines set forth in this application after being offered the opportunity to make a change.

PLEASE NOTE – REGARDING COLLABORATING ARTISTS: If you are submitting an application as a collaborating artist/partner, you must submit the name(s) with the application. Please follow the instructions provided on ZAPP.
You may not add a partner after the jury. If you have any questions or difficulties registering the partner, please contact the ZAPP office before submitting your application.

Booth Information

(Includes products, pricing, setup information, etc.)

Booth fees and artist paperwork including the Artist Agreement are due by March 27, 2020. The following fee schedule applies for 2020:
Single booth fee: $475
Double-WIDE booth fee: $950 (limited to those artists juried in two mediums)
Corner booth fee: $625 ($475/$150 additional fee paid by separate check)
Double-DEEP booth fee: $950 (available only on the North side of Grand Ave.)
Double-DEEP corner booth: $1100 (available only on the North side of Grand Ave.)
*All fees may be paid by credit card. Service fees are applied to credit card usage. Also, note that we no longer accept a check for a form of payment drawn on banks outside the U.S. Any accepted artist paying booth fees will be required to pay by credit card or cash (money order).

Many thanks for your interest in the Des Moines Arts Festival. Should you have any questions about the process, please do not hesitate to call Stephen King, CFEE, Executive Director, at 515.286.4927 or email sking@desmoinesartsfestival.org.

We value your participation and look forward to seeing you in June 2020!

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