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Iowa canvas: Ask someone to name a U.S. city with a booming arts scene, and one answer you may not hear is Des Moines, Iowa. (Unless they’re running for president.) The state capital has long been the realm of insurance workers and ag execs who flee the desolate city center after business hours, but the city now boasts the largest nonprofit arts space in the country. As it builds out, Mainframe Studios already has a long waitlist for affordable artist workspaces in its 160,000-square-foot former insurance call center, in a downtown that’s doubled in population since 2007.
Now art is part of the strategy to keep the city affordable. “Every day, we see headlines about artists being priced out, and it’s even happening here in little ol’ Des Moines,” said Siobhan Spain, director of Mainframe. “We want to learn from what’s going on in other cities, and we think we’ve created a model that approaches the problem in a proactive way.” Today on CityLab: Des Moines Wants to Be the Affordable City for Artists
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