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New group says ‘Bravo’ to local arts and culture


The Des Moines Cultural Alliance is gone, and Bravo Greater Des Moines has taken its place. A nonprofit organization, it replaces the loose affiliation that lasted about 15 years. Sixteen local leaders make up Bravo’s board of directors.

“The arts and culture are no longer a luxury, if they ever were,” said board member and Principal Financial Group Inc. President J. Barry Griswell in a release. “They are a business necessity in a metropolitan area such as Des Moines. Arts and culture are a significant factor in an area’s quality of life, which increasingly determines whether a business can attract and maintain the kind of workforce we need in today’s economy.”

The new organization’s mission is to create awareness of and funding for arts and culture as an economic growth strategy, according to spokeswoman Leann Jacobson.

Attorney and board chair Steve Zumbach noted in the release announcing Bravo’s formation, “Arts and culture make an important direct contribution to Greater Des Moines’ economy, including a nearly $75 million economic impact and 1,650 jobs.”

Two contributions marked the group’s debut. Bravo board member and Business Publications Corp. Publisher Connie Wimer presented a check for $40,000 from Winefest Des Moines, a June festival that drew more than 6,000 people downtown, and Jordan Creek Town Center Marketing Director Rocell Melohn donated $30,000 from the new shopping mall.

Members of Bravo include Blank Park Zoo, Civic Center of Greater Des Moines, Civic Music Association, Des Moines Art Center, Hoyt Sherman Place, Iowa Youth Chorus, Living History Farms, Metro Arts Alliance, Science Center of Iowa, State Historical Society of Iowa, Des Moines Botanical Center, Des Moines Metro Opera, Des Moines Playhouse, Des Moines Symphony and Salisbury House Foundation.

Zumbach said the membership will expand to include an even more diverse range of arts and culture organizations.

Joining Griswell, Zumbach and Wimer on the board are Alba Bassett-Amrijo, diversity development director of the Greater Des Moines Partnership; Steve Chapman, chief executive officer of ITA Group; Johnny Danos, president of the Greater Des Moines Community Foundation; B.J. Do, president of ABC Virtual Communications Inc.; H. Lynn Horak, CEO of Wells Fargo Bank Iowa N.A.; Dick Levitt; Mell Meredith Frazier, chairman of the Meredith Corp. Foundation; Ron Pearson, CEO of Hy-Vee Inc.; Mary Sellers, executive director of the Science Center of Iowa; Tracy Levine, executive director of the Metro Arts Alliance; Tom Lydon of KPMG L.L.P.; and Darca Boom and Tom Sullivan, both attorneys at Nyemaster, Goode, West, Hansell & O’Brien P.C.

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