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Engage the Midwest in meaningful entertainment, education, and cultural activities.


Provide performing arts experiences that educate, inspire, and challenge.


At Des Moines Performing Arts, we use the arts to hold up a mirror to the human experience. We strive to uplift diverse stories, people, and the communities they create. We want our guests, artists, and colleagues to feel safe bringing their full, authentic selves and individual perspectives to this exchange.  


We respectfully acknowledge that we are on the traditional lands of the numerous indigenous tribes and people of Iowa, the original stewards of this land. The state itself owes its name to the Ioway Nation. We offer our respect to their elders both past and present, as well as future generations. To acknowledge this land is to recognize its longer history and our place in that history; it is to recognize these lands and waters and their significance for the peoples who lived and continue to live in this region, whose practices and spiritualities were and are tied to the land and the water, and those whose lives continue to enrich and develop in relationship to the land, waters and other inhabitants today. As we celebrate art, dance, and culture we acknowledge the rich culture of the indigenous people and their contributions to our own.  


The Des Moines Civic Center is a testament to the power of a dream and determination.  In the 1970s following the closing of Des Moines’ KRNT Theater, a local bond option to build and fund a performing arts hall was proposed and narrowly defeated.  Undeterred, a group of area business leaders joined forces and raised over $9 million in less than 90 days for the cause. 

The rest is history and in June of 1979 the Des Moines Civic Center hosted its first performance.  Along with the black box Stoner Theater and Nollen Plaza (now Cowles Commons) the Des Moines Civic Center became a downtown destination. 

In 2002 the Temple Theater became the 4th venue operated by the organization and in 2013 the organization rebranded itself as Des Moines Performing Arts (DMPA).

Today DMPA continues to serve as one of Iowa’s premier non-profit arts organizations. It is a major economic driver with the Willis Broadway Series alone delivering an estimated $30 million in economic impact annually.  The organization emphasizes performing arts education through a number of initiatives including the Iowa High School Musical Theater Awards and the Applause Series. In 2017 DMPA welcomed its 10 millionth guest and 2018 will bring the organization’s 40th anniversary season. 


Issues of CUE




CUE 2019

CUE 2018

CUE 2017

Des Moines Performing Arts Partnerships: