June 22 - 24, 2018 Western Gateway Park Friday & Saturday 11AM - 10PM I Sunday 11AM - 5PM
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 DES MOINES ARTS FESTIVAL®   2017 Artist Prospectus

from the International Festivals & Events Association

What they're saying.... 

"Best managed, designed and run art show in the country"

"You treat artists with such respect."

The Des Moines Arts Festival (DMAF) is one of the nation’s most respected arts events and will host 180 of the nation’s top artists on June 23-25 in a beautiful urban street setting surrounding the 4.4 acre John and Mary Pappajohn Sculpture Park.  The outdoor Festival of arts and culture attracts more than 200,000 people each year to its downtown location in Iowa’s capital city and largest metropolitan area.  DMAF is a show dedicated to the highest standards and works diligently to maintain a positive environment for artists and their clients.  DMAF is a non-profit organization founded by the Des Moines Art Center.  The Festival contributes more than $50,000 annually from its proceeds to support the Des Moines Art Center, numerous area non-profit organizations, the continuation of the DMAF, and keeping your fees low.  

The Des Moines Arts Festival® is a multi-day Festival that adds vibrancy to Central Iowa by creating opportunities for people of all ages, cultures and backgrounds to celebrate the arts.

Our Core Values are to

Foster Appreciation of the Arts    We strive to educate, inspire and engage our audience toward a heightened appreciation of visual and other forms of art.

 Celebrate Original Art    We produce an annual celebration of outstanding original visual art in a festival atmosphere.

 Value Community    We respect and celebrate the involvement of all people and seek to enhance the sense of pride in our community.

 Deliver the Highest Standards with Integrity and Accountability    We value professionalism and quality.  We operate in a fair and honorable manner with transparency. We are strong financial stewards. We manage with responsibility and maximize value to our partners.

 Strategically Innovate    We seek to harness new and creative ideas for the betterment of the festival and community.

 Our Vision    Within the next five years, the Des Moines Arts Festival® will be known for its innovations in audience and artist engagement, and leadership in providing a model to other organizations for high quality execution.



Application Information:  DMAF uses the ZAPP® application system (ZAPPlication).  To apply, go to www.zapplication.org.  If you have not done so already, open an account (free) and do a search for "Des Moines Arts Festival."  Follow the instructions from there. 


The Fact Sheet (all information subject to change)

LOCATION: Downtown Des Moines, Iowa, on Locust Street and Grand Ave. between 16th Street and 10th Street.
EVENT NAME: Des Moines Arts Festival® 
CONTACT:  Stephen King, Executive Director
MAILING ADDRESS: 700 Locust Street, Suite 100, Des Moines, IA 50309
TELEPHONE:  515.286.4927
AVG. SALES: Gross Avg. = $8,677 (Source – 2016 Artist Post-event Survey)
ONE-TIME PROJECTED JURY IMAGES:  5 images of work + 1 booth image
VIEWEDProjected simultaneously with image 1, 2, 3 on top from left to right, and 4, 5, booth from left to right, on bottom.
JURORS: 5 paid. Includes two invited (exempt) artists from 2016.
SCORING: 1-7, no 4 in Round 1. “Rounds”
JURY/APPLICATION FEE:  $32 before December 5, 2016.  $35 after December 5 and through Dec. 12, 2016.
BOOTH SPACE FEE:  $450 for 10’x10’ Additional charge for 20’ deep and corner booths
CASH AWARDS:  $9,000 at press time
BOOTH SPACE:  10’x10’ with 1’ buffer all around, most with abundant storage close to booth. Limited number of 10’ (front) x 20’ (deep) interior and corner booths are available.
ELECTRIC: Provided. Generators not allowed.
PRODUCED BY:  Downtown Events Group, 501(c)3 Non-profit corp.
ARTIST PRESENCE:  All required (individual and partners).
NO. OF EXHIBITORS EXPECTED FROM JURY POOL:  appx. 165 (we jury spaces with the final number of spaces available being 180)
NO. OF ARTISTS EXEMPT FROM JURY:  at least 10 (award winners from previous year)
SECURITY:  24-hour
PARKING:  Free/reserved/off-site dedicated.  All street parking in the downtown area is free after 5 p.m. on Friday and throughout the weekend.
STRUCTURE:  If using a tented structure, the tent must be commercial or professional grade with heavy weights on each corner and stabilizing maneuvers that provide maximum safety to artists and guests.   
INSURANCE: All exhibiting artists are required to secure and provide proof of insurance naming the Des Moines Arts Festival as “additional insured.”

Artist Information and Benefits

  • 180 Juried Artists
  • Projected Attendance – 200,000+
  • $9,000 in cash awards at the time of publication. $1500 to the Best of Show; up to five Awards of Excellence at $1000 each; three Juror Awards of $500 each presented by each of the jurors; and the $1000 Leysens Family Award to the Best of Emerging Iowa Artist. These amounts may be altered by the jury, but the total will remain intact.
  • Each of the above awards includes an automatic invitation to 2018 show.
  • Official Festival Program includes color thumbnail image of each exhibiting artist.
  • Web site includes up to three full-color images with name, bio, live link to artist Web site, and email.
  • Free reserved parking.
  • Invitations to special events and receptions.
  • Hospitality Area.
  • Air-conditioned restroom facilities.
  • Exclusive “Express Lane” concessions.
  • 24-hour Security.
  • Free Electricity.
  • Leisurely set-up (full day is available).
  • Booth sitters and energetic volunteers.
  • Booth Amenities.
    1.    10' x 10' Booth with at least 121 square feet (1’ on sides and back).
    2.    All booths on street at press time. 
    3.    Storage behind booth. Some booths will have 1’ behind booth, others a full sidewalk; however, keep in mind that these sidewalks are used for electric cords and passage by Gators and people.

Festival Hours
Friday, June 23 11 a.m. – 10 p.m.  
Saturday, June 24 11 a.m. – 10 p.m.  
Sunday, June 25 11 a.m. – 5 p.m.  
Hours subject to change.  

Important Dates
Application Available – October 3, 2016

Application Deadline – Soft deadline is December 5, 2016 12:59:59PM CST. Hard deadline is December 12, 2016.

Jury – Scheduled for January 4-6, 2017 in Des Moines, IA

Notifications Emailed – January 27, 2017
Please note:  we do NOT notify artists through ZAPP.  You will receive an email from the DMAF office.

Deadline to confirm participation – February 12, 2017  

Refund Deadline - May 1, 2017  

About our jury process –

The jury is scheduled for January 4-6, 2017. The location for the projection jury will be 700 Locust Street, Suite 100.   Applying artists and special guests are invited to a special Jury Preview on Wednesday, January 4 beginning at 5:30 p.m.  Projection of images for the jury begins promptly at 6 p.m.  The jury preview is an opportunity for artists to view their images at the same time and in the same manner the jury will see them.  An email notice will be sent to all applicants of the details.   Approximately 165 spaces will be available via the jury process. An additional ten (10) booth spaces are reserved for 2016 award winners and up to five (5) spaces are reserved for special invitations.

Round One is a complete overview of all applicants. Each artist set of images will be projected for approximately ten seconds.

Round Two is the first scoring round. Each artist’s set of images will be projected for approximately eight seconds. After which the jury will begin scoring on a laptop in front of them. From the beginning, each set of artist’s images will be projected. As the set of images is projected, the Artist Statement is read aloud. The jury will score each artist’s set of images a traditional 1 through 7, with no 4.

Round Three comes after all applying artists have been scored. A median score is determined and all artists scoring above the median score move to the next round. Round Three is scored by the jury with a show of hands. A majority vote moves the artist into the next round. This round begins with another complete overview of all remaining artists. Once completed, we return to the beginning and start scoring. The artist’s set of images remain on the screen for as long as requested by the jury.

Round Four and Beyond – Any number of rounds now occur slowly balancing the show by making final selections. This and subsequent rounds are scored as described above – a majority show of hands moves the artist into the final round(s).

The jury uses the following standards to guide their decision:

  • Projection “blind" jury
  • The jury will view each artist’s set of six images. One of the six images shall be an actual image of the artist's booth showing body of work. The images will be projected in two rows, three images on top and three images on bottom, simultaneously.
  • The ideal work will reflect excellence.
  • The work should be well conceived and expertly executed.
  • The work should show an identity of design.
  • All work must be original and made by the hand of the applying artist.
  • Artwork is considered solely on the merit of the work pictured. This and your submitted Artist Statement will be the only criteria considered. (See below regarding Artist Statement).
  • The work should be professionally and creatively presented. The better the image presented, the better your opportunity.
  • The work presented for jury must be representative of the artist’s body of work. If the work is not current, do not submit the image.
  • All applications from professional artists must submit an authentic booth image (that is, an actual photo/image of your booth)
  • Booth images may not be created in a computer program or manipulated, enhanced or otherwise affected by a computer in any way.
  • Booth images may not contain the artist name, company name or any other affiliation; artists may use Photoshop techniques to remove the name(s).
  • The booth image must include the entire booth, not a portion.
  • The booth image must be that of your outdoor booth (no indoor booth images).

Please Note:  If you submit an application without the booth image or the booth image does not follow the criteria as stated here, your application will be returned to you.  You may choose to re-submit the application under our rules.  Regardless of whether you choose to re-submit the application under our rules, application fees will not be returned for not following the stated rules.  Artists may choose to submit the image as is with the understanding that a full point will be deducted from the artist’s final score for not adhering to the guidelines above after being offered the opportunity to make a change. A note about the booth image. The booth image shows the jury your body of work, provides dimension and scale, a sense of artistic and creative presentation, and reflects what your booth will look like at the show in June.  It will also report to the jury if the work submitted in the individual images reflects your current style and overall body of work.  Please note that EIA’s will show a sixth image in place of the booth image.

Artist Statement The application will automatically have a question for an artist description of material and technique of up to 300 characters. You are encouraged to enter a description of material and technique that is concise and explains well the body of work. The jury responds best to a description of technique rather than how you are inspired. The first (up to) 300 characters of the submitted statement will be read aloud to the jury.  

Notification - Invited artists will be revealed at a special patron event on January 26 where images of the artist’s work will be displayed and information about each artist provided. - On January 27, 2017 the DMAF will notify applicants of results using the email provided in your ZAPPlication. - In addition to the email notification, accepted artists will be posted on www.desmoinesartsfestival.org. - Results will not be given over the phone.

All decisions of the jury are final.  DMAF reserves the right to reject any application if it does not comply with the covenants and rules set forth in this document.  

The Emerging Iowa Artist Program (EIA) presented by PrincipalSM Iowa residents currently enrolled in or recently graduated (within one year) from a university, college or art school anywhere in the U.S. are eligible to apply to the Emerging Iowa Artists (EIA) program.  This program provides individuals the opportunity to promote their talents and sell their artwork at the Des Moines Arts Festival®. It also provides opportunities to artists beginning their careers.   Artists can participate in the EIA program for two years (either consecutively or non-consecutively). Because of financial support from Principal Financial Group®, this program is free to qualified artists. There is no charge to submit images for the jury or for booth space once the work is accepted by the jury.   Qualified artists are required to apply to the show in the same manner as professional artists and submit their work in accordance to the specifications. 

All applicants are required to provide at the time of application proof of residency and enrollment to ensure the integrity of the program

All work submitted is juried by the same jury. All rules and submission requirements remain the same for EIA applicants.   If you are a qualified EIA, apply under the medium (category) "Emerging Iowa Artist." To waive the application fee, you must enter the coupon code EIA2017The Festival will NOT refund the application fee if you do not enter the coupon code. 

Please note that DMAF requires a booth image from its professional artists as part of the application - EIA applicants will instead provide an additional image of their work in place of the booth image.  


Booth fees and Artist paperwork including the Agreement are due by February 17, 2017.  The following fee schedule applies for 2017 -  

Single Booth Fee: $450
Double-WIDE Booth Fee: $900 (available only to artists invited to exhibit in two mediums)
Corner Booth Fee: $625 additional fee paid by separate check
Double-DEEP Booth Fee: $600 (available only on the North side of Grand Ave.)
Double-DEEP Corner Booth: $775 (available only on the North side of Grand Ave.)

A full refund of all booth fees paid is available until Friday May 1, 2017. 

The DMAF considers its enforcement of the rules our exclusive right and responsibility.  Festival officials will visit all displays at intervals throughout the Festival to ensure that exhibitors comply with all Festival rules, including but not limited to checking identification.  Your submitted application and signature on the Artist Agreement (for those invited) is your indication that you agree that noncompliance can result in expulsion and ineligibility for jurying, awards and participation in future Festivals. If an artist is removed from the show for non-compliance of the rules, no booth fee refunds will be issued nor compensation made, and the artist will be ineligible to exhibit for a period of at least two years.

1. All work exhibited must be original art produced by the exhibiting artist(s). Work done by a production studio, in classes or workshops, “Buy-sell” and/or imports, work from kits, commercial designs, and derivative work is prohibited. Artists selling work that is not their own will be expelled from the Festival.

2. It is the work by the artist that is juried, therefore any change in the overall body of work by the artist after the jury process accepts the juried work is not considered juried and may not be exhibited until approved by the director of the show.  Please see the description of our New Directions program below.  Absolutely no consideration will be made if the work is of a different discipline.

3. Prints may only be exhibited by Printmakers. Prints must be produced in signed, limited editions of no more than 250, which are hand-pulled by the artist.

4. No reproductions are allowed.  If it’s a copy of any kind, regardless of medium, don’t bring it.

5. All artists associated with the juried work must be present to exhibit.  If artists apply as partners, each artist must be present.  If each artist is not present, the artist who is present will not be permitted to set-up or exhibit.  No proxy of any kind is permitted.  If artists working as partners are found to apply as a single artist, the artist will be disqualified without a refund regardless of the calendar of stated deadlines.

6. Booth and display must remain intact during all hours of the show. 

7. A picture ID is required at artist check-in by all artists, including partners, accepted to exhibit. In addition, the Festival reserves the right to check ID each day of the Festival to ensure the artist is present. Artists may NOT set-up or have their booth set-up until they have provided proof of their presence.

8. The sale of non-original promotional items is prohibited.

9. Artists are responsible for proper insurance and protection of work and setup.  The DMAF will not be responsible for damage to work or setup for any reason. All artists are required to maintain and provide proof of insurance before they are allowed to set-up and exhibit.

10. Artists are responsible for collecting and reporting all taxes, including 6% Iowa sales tax.

11. We do not allow sharing of booths except under extraordinary circumstances and ONLY if prior approval is provided in writing from the director. Absolutely no consideration is given if the request is made at the time of set-up or during the show.

12. If using a tented structure, the tent must be commercial or professional grade with heavy weights on each corner and stabilizing maneuvers that provide maximum safety to artists and guests. All light-duty accordion-style pop-up tents are prohibited. Acceptance by the jury does not constitute approval by the show of the artist’s display structure presented at time of jury. Any artist whose display is deemed to be unstable and, in the exclusive opinion of show staff, unable to withstand severe weather will be required to remove the display or make adjustments as required. Structurally acceptable replacement tents will be available to rent on-site on a first-come first served basis. Additionally, weights will be available on a first-come first-served basis.

In addition to the rules of exhibiting, the following guidelines/restrictions apply to the jury process:

1. Artists may jury in more than one medium only with a distinctly different body of work. Applications may NOT be of mixed work.  
2. Artists wishing to exhibit work produced in more than one medium must submit a separate application for each medium. Artists whose work is selected in multiple mediums are eligible for a single double booth space.    

Upon receipt of application, the Festival reserves the right to return any application if it is deemed noncompliant or does not provide the information requested.  If you submit an application that does not follow the criteria as stated here, your application may be returned to you for modification.  Application fees will not be returned.  Artists may choose to submit the image as is with the understanding that a full point may be deducted from the artist’s final second-round score for not adhering to the guidelines set forth in this application after being offered the opportunity to make a change.  

PLEASE NOTE – REGARDING COLLABORATING ARTISTS: If you are submitting an application as a collaborating artist/partner, you must submit the name(s) with the application. Here is how to submit your application as a collaborating artist: go to “My Profile” on ZAPPlication. Enter one of the two collaborating artists as the primary contact in the profile form (this name will always appear first in publications and online if accepted). After completing the information requested, enter the collaborating artist’s name(s) in the section at the bottom of the profile page. This information is carried over to the application for purposes of identifying a collaborative effort. You may not add a partner after the jury. If you have any questions or difficulties registering the partner, please contact the DMAF office before submitting your application.  

New Directions New Directions is designed for professional visual artists (the distinction is made because of the emerging artists program) who are juried into the show and who, between the time they are juried and the date of the show, are exploring new directions in their current work. Exhibiting artists will have this opportunity available to them to introduce to our guests expressions of new art they are exploring.     All artists will jury with their body of work as they normally do. Upon acceptance into the show, artists will be notified of the details of the policies surrounding its integrity. Should any juried artist find themselves exploring a new direction with their work and wants to participate in the program, we will work with them on a case-by-case basis within a set of parameters that all involved (including the show) must follow.     In order to keep in tact the decisions of the jury, we will institute a few parameters: new work may not occupy but a small percentage of the overall exhibit space; the work will be identified as “new work” within the exhibit space; the work must be an extension of the work juried into the show; the new work must be clearly defined within the exhibit; and it all must be original. It may not be a completely new body of work.   Our goal is to encourage artistic exploration while trying to maintain the high standards of the jury process. We recognize an artists desire to explore and often find themselves rejuvenated by the journey of discovering a new talent, but didn’t because you were working too hard to stay inside the box we created for you. And because we appreciate that we are collaborators in this industry we are reaching out to offer this “new direction.”  

Many thanks for your interest in the Des Moines Arts Festival. Should you have any questions about the process, please do not hesitate to call Stephen King, Executive Director, at 515.286.4927 or email sking@desmoinesartsfestival.org.   We value your participation and look forward to seeing you in June 2017!


View our 2016 Final Report.