Clarinda Carnegie Art Museum

(Clarinda) -- Clarinda is the site of a special event this week aimed at promoting the arts in Iowa.

Clarinda's Carnegie Art Museum hosts the Iowa Arts Forum Wednesday afternoon at 3. Trish Bergren is the museum's executive director. Bergren tells KMA News a host of statewide arts organizations and advocates are expected to attend the event, which stresses the importance of arts.

"We'll actually Americans for the Arts Action Fund represented," said Bergren. "Iowa Alliance for the Arts, the Iowa Department of Cultural Affairs, the Iowa Cultural Coalition will all be there--and what we're going to do is start a discussion, start a conversation in southwest Iowa."

Bergren says the forum's first portion entails a community conversation about the arts--including an arts and cultural mapping of southwest Iowa, and discussion of what makes communities vibrant.

"What we will do is break out into conversations," said Bergren, "first off, to kind of showcase what we're doing in southwest Iowa. But, also, it's for everyone--it's for parents, it's for grandparents. It's about art-friendly policies in southwest Iowa--what's working, what's not working, and what would work."

That's followed by an advocacy training session, designed to sharpen strategies on how to engage and educate candidates and policymakers about the importance of the arts and the creative economy.

"This whole about Wednesday and Thursday," she said, "is to kind of teach about advocacy for the arts--how can you make a difference? Any person--whether you're 16, 18 or 86--how to use your voice with our local, state or federal government to make that difference."

Bergren says the forum comes at a time when public support for the arts nationwide is slipping.

"Statistics have shown since 1980," said Bergren, "we're spending less and less and less through the National Endowment For The Arts for arts and education, and programs. It's a proven fact that if we can put more arts back into our school system and our education, we know that if kids are involved in arts, there's less probability of dropouts. I think the dropout rates from 22% to, like, 4% if they're just involved in arts."

Wednesday's event in Clarinda precedes the statewide arts forum Thursday from 1-to-5 p.m. at Hoyt Sherman Place in Des Moines. More information on both events is available from the artsvotes2020 website. Trish Bergren was a guest on KMA's "Dean and Friends" program Monday morning.