FilmScene receives $25K in NEA grants

Iowa City, Iowa - FilmScene, a non-profit cinema featuring independent and tought provoking films and events located at the Chauncey Building on January 2, 2020.
Iowa City, Iowa - FilmScene, a non-profit cinema featuring independent and thought provoking films and events located at the Chauncey Building on January 2, 2020. CREDIT DAVID GREEDY

For the second year in a row, the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) has announced that FilmScene has been chosen for a Grants for Arts Project award to support year-round curated screenings, public engagement activities, and educational programs.

As FilmScene embarks on its tenth anniversary later this year, this $25,000 grant award, an increase from the previous year, is a milestone for Iowa’s longest-running year-round nonprofit cinema that recognizes years of programmatic excellence and a commitment to expanding those programming and engagement efforts in the year ahead. 

According to a release sent by the nonprofit, this grant will support FilmScene’s community engagement through cinema work, including the annual Refocus Film Festival, initiatives like Reel Representation and African Diaspora, which highlight films directed by women and non-binary artists and filmmakers of color, respectively, as well as education programs like FilmScene 101, quarterly courses on classic cinema, and the return of Scenesters, a high school film appreciation club. These programs compliment robust new release and specialty programming, and present media arts and entertainment unique to the greater community of Eastern Iowa. 

“We’re tremendously honored and grateful that the NEA has again recognized FilmScene’s year-round work to create community through cinema,” said FilmScene Executive Director Andrew Sherburne, in the release. “This grant helps us meet our mission to challenge, inspire, educate, and entertain our diverse communities through the shared discovery of film.” 

“Our community has generously supported FilmScene throughout its ten years as Iowa City’s downtown, nonprofit cinema – in fact, this community is the reason FilmScene opened its doors in the first place,” said Hayely Crabb, FilmScene’s membership and development director, in the release. “Significant support from a national funder like the NEA is a testament to how much our community is strengthened by the power of cinema, particularly cinema that is accessible, showcases diverse perspectives and experiences, and brings people together.” 

In addition to the programs detailed above, the 2023 NEA grant provides operational support to FilmScene’s year-round series like FilmScene in the Park, presented by Dr. Suzanne Stock, Orthodontist, a free outdoor cinema; Pride at FilmScene, in partnership with Iowa City Pride, a monthly series highlighting queer cinema’s past, present, and future; The Picture Show, presented by MidWestOne Bank, a monthly free-for-kids family series; Filmmaker Spotlight, an ongoing series celebrating the work of local filmmakers and artists; and the newly created Community Collaborations, presented by GreenState Credit Union, an ongoing series of community partnerships designed to generate conversation and action inspired by film. 

FilmScene’s project is among 1,130 projects across America totaling $31 million that were selected to receive this second round of fiscal year 2023 funding in the Grants for Arts Projects category. 

“The National Endowment for the Arts is pleased to support a wide range of projects, including FilmScene’s community engagement through cinema program, demonstrating the many ways the arts enrich our lives and contribute to healthy and thriving communities,” said NEA Chair Maria Rosario Jackson, PhD. “These organizations play an important role in advancing the creative vitality of our nation and helping to ensure that all people can benefit from arts, culture, and design.” 

For more information on other projects included in the Arts Endowment grant announcement, visit For more information on FilmScene, please visit