Show Pieces: Artistic Endeavors Excel in Iowa

Renovations have arts thriving in Iowa Cities

A historic playhouse renovation and a repurposed building have put the spotlight on the arts in these two cities.

Founded in 1912, the Englert Theatre is a Vaudeville-era playhouse that has contributed to Iowa City’s rich entertainment culture for over 100 years. Recently, the beloved building received some major updates and improvements, including a restored marquee, new lights, a gallery space for events and more.

Englert Theatre remodeled marquee

“The biggest change is the expansion of public space in the second-floor lounge, which will be an additional space for performances, receptions and more,” said Katie Roche, development director for the theater. 

“The marquee probably hasn’t looked this good since the day it was installed in the late 1950s and has really returned to its rightful place as the centerpiece of the downtown.” – Katie Roche, Englert Theatre

When the Englert opened back up in fall 2021, community members gathered around for the momentous relighting of the historic marquee.

“People cried tears of joy,” Roche said. “It was a real moment of hope during hard times.”

The Englert Theatre is a shining example of Iowa City’s mission to make it the “greatest small city for the arts.” The city’s marketing campaign, Strengthen Grow Evolve, worked to enhance the Englert with new programming, stronger community engagement and learning opportunities.

In Council Bluffs, a recent $18.5 million renovation to the former Harvester II Building, once used to distribute farm harvesting equipment, resulted in the Hoff Family Arts and Culture Center. “The Hoff” is now a vibrant complex of buildings with amenities that include a 280-seat theater, rehearsal areas, gallery, artist studios, classrooms, teaching kitchen and more.

The Hoff Family Arts and Culture Center

The center also houses local nonprofits like the American Midwest BalletKanesville Symphony OrchestraChanticleer Community Theater and entrepreneurial food incubator Kitchen Council. Also on-site is PACE, short for Pottawattamie Arts, Culture and Entertainment.

The renovation project resulted in an award from Preservation Iowa, and the Hoff is furthering PACE’s mission to enrich, inspire, and energize the community through arts, culture, and connection.

Published July 13, 2023

Additional Stories

The best move you’ll ever make

The life you’ve always wanted is in Iowa. What better time than now to start living it?

Connect with an Iowan