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DES MOINES, IADes Moines Performing Arts (DMPA) is introducing a new initiative that will celebrate high school theatrical programs and provide online learning opportunities throughout the spring. These opportunities are a positive response to the earlier announcement that the 2020 Iowa High School Musical Theater Awards (IHSMTA) Showcase, presented by EMC Insurance Companies and scheduled for June 1, 2020 at the Des Moines Civic Center, has been cancelled due to the ongoing challenges of COVID-19. The initiative provides a chance for DMPA to celebrate the 86 schools who took part in the 2019-2020 IHSMTA program.

In this unprecedented time of social distancing, theaters ranging from Broadway to high school auditoriums are dark across the country. In addition to impacting the year-end IHSMTA Showcase, a significant number of participating school productions were unable to be performed as scheduled due to school closures.

Despite these challenges, the IHSMTA program remains committed to supporting students and drama programs across the state during this time. Today, DMPA released the awards and recognitions bestowed to schools whose productions were reviewed by adjudicators, prior to school closures. Click here for a list of the awards.

“It is equally important to uplift all 86 schools in the program, regardless of whether they had the opportunity to perform their shows for their school communities,” said DMPA Education Program Coordinator Sarah Florian.

To that end, a special Digital IHSMTA Showcase has been launched online. The Showcase features videos, photo galleries and other special content from schools and students from across the state, with new content added regularly. Students and the public can explore the Digital IHSMTA Showcase by visiting

“EMC is proud to support the talented Iowa students and educators bringing the joy of theater to their communities,” said Scott Jean, EMC President and CEO. “The Iowa High School Musical Theater Awards program plays an important role in strengthening theater departments across our state and we look forward to celebrating all of the hard work put into these productions in a unique way this year.”

The IHSMTA program is also hosting a series of virtual webinars and master classes for participating students throughout April and May. The learning opportunities will cover a variety of performance and technical topics, such as stage management, dance, college auditions, and weekly Broadway trivia.

“We are thrilled to find creative ways to make sure that Iowa’s theater students are seen and that they know that the IHSMTA family is here for them during this time,” said Florian.

Follow DMPA on Social Media:

Facebook: @DesMoinesPerformingArts

Twitter: @dsmperforming

Instagram: @dsmperforming


About the IHSMTA Program

The IHSMTA program is a year-long signature DMPA community initiative that impacts more than 5,000 students across the state of Iowa. The program focuses on enhancing the talents of high school thespians and their schools’ theater programs, while providing a platform for recognition. The program consists of three main components:

  • Professional Review: Each participating musical production receives a professional review. A panel of performing arts educators and professionals (adjudicators) attend each school's musical and provides feedback on everything from individual actors' performances, to the orchestra, set, lighting, costumes and more.
  • Learning Opportunities: Throughout the school year, learning opportunities including workshops led by theater professionals help students grow.
  • Awards Showcase: Based on reviewer scores and nominations, outstanding musicals and performers are invited to share highlights from their school productions in a professionally produced Awards Showcase that is held on the Des Moines Civic Center stage at the beginning of June. The evening consists of student performances curated from across the state.

 About Des Moines Performing Arts

Des Moines Performing Arts is a private not-for-profit organization celebrating 41 seasons of presenting the performing arts to Iowa and the surrounding states on four stages in Des Moines – the Civic Center, the Stoner Theater, the Temple Theater and the newly renovated outdoor space, Cowles Commons. Des Moines Performing Arts is a presenter of major Broadway and educational touring companies, performers and groups, and is home to many local and regional groups, including the Des Moines Symphony. All performances of the Broadway Series are supported by Willis Auto Campus. All performances at the Temple Theater are supported by Prairie Meadows. All performances of the Family Series are supported by Wellmark Blue Cross and Blue Shield. For more information, visit