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  Culture Corner - Iowa Cultural Corridor Alliance Blog
ICCA in 2015
posted: Wednesday, December 24, 2014  Post Comment

I joined the board for the Iowa Cultural Corridor Alliance (ICCA) in April of 2013 after reading about a board opening in ICCA’s weekly e-blast. The application asks all the pertinent questions about past experience, commitments, and also includes this gem: “Why are you interested in serving on the ICCA Board of Directors?” It seems straightforward enough and looking back, the first part of my answer was rather pat. My response noted my belief in the importance of good citizenship, community activism and volunteering, and touched on the breadth of arts and cultural amenities in Iowa’s Creative Corridor. 

But I included two more components to answering “Why are you interested in serving on the ICCA Board of Directors?” that mean much more now as I being my term as President of ICCA in January. 

The first part of my reply was acknowledging the structure of ICCA, serving as the voice and as an advocate for more than 120 cultural organizations in Iowa’s Creative Corridor. I knew we had strength in numbers and in the power of our network, but I blindly (foolishly?) considered ICCA primarily a promotional vehicle with a robust website and calendar of events. 

I see now that our organization provides so much more to our membership including educational programming, professional development, resource sharing, and advocacy-focused events. This is the focus of our board in addition to our public-facing efforts of arts and cultural awareness and promoting cultural tourism within the communities we serve. ICCA truly is a regional organization and member-based alliance striving to provide an equitable experience for all of our members, looking beyond geography, programming and size of our associates. 

Looking forward, this is a message we need to spread throughout the Corridor. 

The last part of my answer to “Why are you interested in serving on the ICCA Board of Directors?” was about workforce. I work in economic development and workforce has been and will continue to be an area of concern as we endeavor to build our area’s economy and help local employers. 

In a global economy, companies and workers have their pick of communities. So why come here? Certainly there are business decisions. Quality of education is important. Weather can be a factor. Housing plays a part. But the out-of-home and away-from-the-office experiences created by ICCA members in our performance halls and museum corridors, along our city sidewalks and in studios and galleries are what builds our reputation as a place to live life to its fullest. Simply, companies need people and ICCA plays a key role in workforce development. Our membership helps shape and create… Actually, let me rephrase… our membership is the quality of life for Iowa’s Creative Corridor. 

Looking forward, we have to acknowledge this past year. With Sean Ulmer’s leadership, and facilitation from Regenia Bailey of the Bailey Leadership Initiative, ICCA completed strategic planning for its next three years and will adopt a plan this month. Additionally, with the help of Quinn Pettifer and We Create Here, ICCA completed two months of advocacy talks with our membership to help us identify key areas for membership needs. Combining our strategic planning and membership input, ICCA will unveil new programming and initiatives for 2015. Look for those to be announced in January. 

The worlds of business, arts and culture, non-profit and tourism are beginning to blend as we all work to support one another and this region. In fact, for the first time in its 15+ years, the ICCA President and Vice-President are not directly connected to the arts and culture community. This speaks to the role ICCA plays in impacting and improving Iowa’s Creative Corridor. 

I’m excited for this journey and invite you to take part. 

Eric Hanson is the incoming President for ICCA and the Director of Marketing and Communications for the Iowa City Area Economic Development Group (ICAD).

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