The Iowa Department of Cultural Affairs (IDCA) held their annual “Great Places” meeting Monday in Perry, awarding designations to 19 different civic entities.

The program was held at La Poste, and started with welcome addresses from IDCA Director Chris Kramer, Iowa Great Places Citizen Advisory Board Chair Nick Glew, and Perry Mayor John Andorf. After that, the individuals representing each of the 19 designees shared their community vision and initiatives they’re working on. Next, Jennifer Drinkwater, an assistant professor with the Department of Art and Visual Culture with ISU Extension and Outreach, gave a keynote presentation titled “Moving Beyond the Mural.” Drinkwater is responsible for the mural “El Puente,” located on Perry City Hall, and her speech outlined the ways art and culture can transform communities like Perry.

After a networking lunch, attendees took part in a brief question and answer session with Iowa Representative Brian Best, (R) District 12, about how the Legislature supports the arts and the IDCA. Following that was the presentation of the awards to each of the entities designated as Iowa Great Places this year. Among the honorees was the Raccoon River Valley Trail, represented by the Adel Partners Chamber of Commerce, which spearheaded the trail’s redesignation. The event concluded with walking tours of downtown Perry, so the attendees could see what a focus on the arts has been able to accomplish for the City.