Leadership Grant Feature: Ballet Des Moines

Jan. 29, 2024

Ballet Des Moines enriches the community through dance, education and outreach programs and community partnerships throughout Greater Des Moines and Iowa. With the Leadership Grant they have received, the organization plans to expand its reach and programming to new audiences by moving to a more centralized location in downtown Des Moines.  

The Ballet Des Moines Campus for Arts and Education will have more than double the square footage of the previous location. Doubling the footage means Ballet Des Moines will be able to exponentially increase their direct programming. The Campus will also have two operational studios, one of which will be a studio theater that allows the organization to hold open rehearsals where members of the community can see what the dancers are working on.  

“Most people don't get to see the dancers work every day and they are an incredible world class level of talent. This new campus will have an entire wall of windows on Walnut Street which will allow the dancers’ work to be visible to thousands of employees and residents walking past the studio every day,” said Blaire Massa, Chief Executive Officer at Ballet Des Moines.  

Ballet Des Moines’ new location not only means more space for the organization, but also for existing and new community partners.  

“We will continue the work we're doing. But it will be so much clearer to potential new partners and potential new audience members that we do work with incredible nonprofits and community organizations,” said Massa.  

With the location being downtown and along a bus route, Ballet Des Moines is hoping to meet more community members where they are rather than having to transport community groups to them as the organization had done previously.  

“I think that makes the sense of belonging and authentic inclusion with relevant programming so much more real for them than having to bus community groups out to where we are,” said Massa.  

Ballet Des Moines is also excited for the ways the Center’s location will allow them to continue to tailor their multidisciplinary programming to the community groups they are working with in new ways.  

“When you think of a lot of nonprofit work, they are doing their very best to offer something that is good for others,” said Massa. “But so often, they're just making assumptions instead of partnering from the ground up and working to build the program with the community partner. And that is what Ballet Des Moines does. We partner from the inception of any program to make sure that what we're doing is what our community partners need.”  

Ballet Des Moines is hoping to have a larger impact on the community by bringing their arts program to a more centralized location.  

“Having the arts embedded in your community builds civic engagement,” said Massa. “It builds a sense of belonging, it builds pride, and it builds quality of life factors that allow and encourage people to move to and then remain in communities.” 

On an individual level research has shown that participation in creative programming, especially for youth, can change their academic outcomes, literacy rates, college acceptance and more.  

“I want to be clear that we're not talking about turning young people into musicians or artists, we're talking about building success, confidence and curiosity, and problem solving and critical thinking skills,” said Massa.  

Renovations for Ballet Des Moines’ new campus is underway, and the project is still accepting donations. Donations can be made to the project through GIVEdsm. Another way to support Ballet Des Moines is to attend their programming.  

“Not everything we do is a theater performance, we have so many events in the community, many that are free to attend,” said Massa. “We work with schools to ensure kids have an opportunity to attend our programs and participate in our workshops. If you see those, send them to your kid’s teachers and principals. And help us to build awareness and participation in these programs. Once you've seen that you can do it, the person next to you will see that they can do it and the person next to them will see that they can do it. Our goal is to have this be a right and not a privilege for everyone in our community.” 

To learn more about Ballet Des Moines’ upcoming events, view their events calendar here.