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David Byrne, festival culture, and the Des Moines Social Club

by Holly Wist on May 14, 2014

Over 4,000 people celebrated the grand opening of the Des Moines Social Club.

It was a festive time with all floors and roofs of the renovated firehouse packed with artists, musicians, thespians, and such.


Courtyard view. (Source: Holly Wist) 

Having spent the previous afternoon googling David Byrne (I think I watched a clip of Play the Building four times), I slogged with anticipation through the large puddle in the middle of the courtyard to hear the key address.

Byrne began his speech by recounting his experiences during 80/35 2013. Look up his journal if you want a more direct account. Really, go look it up, he’s a research fiend. It’s nice.

I was not surprised that he got charmed by Des Moines during 4th of July weekend. Iowa hosts awesome festivals, and they are fiercely advocated. Happy people everywhere!

80/35, Des Moines Arts Festival, World Food Festival, Baconfest, the Iowa State Fair

The level of community and excitement can even be daunting to uninterested parties, particularly with the state fair. A conversation about the state fair might go like this:

“OMG I’m going to the state fair every day!” (that’s 10 days of fair)

“Stop being creepy! The state fair is like a cult.” (unreciprocated enthusiasm Iowa = cult)

Anyway I hope Des Moines’ temporary enthusiasms can solidify into a more consistent situation for artists/others.

David Byrne included a few directives for fostering the ~erm~ cultural success of the city. He mentioned the importance of creative corridors for the strength of the art scene. Like all endangered species, artists need corridors to sustain themselves.

The relationship between artistic communities in Grinnell, Ames, and Des Moines is growing. Grin City Collective, Ames, and the Des Moines Art Beacon are getting along fairly well. We need to expand. Like wild creatures stealthily taking what we can.

In the end I think Byrne was telling us, The Social Club is awesome, but ____!

Now go make that happen. 

Holly Wist is an artist working in Des Moines. WEBSITE