Making Iowa City the Greatest Small City for the Arts in America

By May 1, 2019 No Comments

The City of Iowa City has backed a major fundraising campaign for the historic Englert Theatre and FilmScene, both Downtown staples looking to have a lasting impact on the City’s artistic legacy.

The joint fundraising effort for Englert and FilmScene, named Strengthen Grow Evolve, was officially announced April 20, 2019. The campaign’s goal is to raise $6.5 million that would go to the two non-profit arts organizations.

The City has committed $1 million to the campaign – the largest single sum- as the two non-profits aim to help make Iowa City the Greatest Small City for the Arts in America.

Funds raised will support historic preservation efforts for both spaces and improve lighting, sound, and stage production at the two venues.

Other efforts helped by the funds include:

  • The creation of the Refocus Film Festival, dedicated to showing movies adapted from a original text, thereby creating a literary film festival for the UNESCO City of Literature.
  • Help grow existing arts festivals like Mission Creek and Witching Hour.
  • Assist FilmScene as they grow into their new cinema.
  • Grow collaborations with Bijou Film Board, SCOPE Productions, and other University of Iowa groups.

“The Englert Theatre is a historic treasure and a vibrant community space,” said Andre Perry, Englert Executive Director. “This collaboration is an opportunity to strengthen this century-old legacy and build an arts landscape worthy of future generations.”

“This community’s passion for the arts, be it literature, music, cinema, is one of the defining characteristics of the City of Iowa City. Supporting FilmScene and The Englert Theatre is an excellent opportunity to help ensure the arts continue to thrive in Iowa City for decades to come,” said Geoff Fruin, City Manager of Iowa City.

Other commitments of support from the Johnson County Board of Supervisors, the Iowa City Downtown District, and private individuals have helped Englert and FilmScene already get to 50% of their goal.

To learn how you can help and donate, visit For more information, contact Andrew Sherburne, FilmScene Associate Director, at 319-331-0791 or at