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Mainframe Studios slated to become the largest nonprofit art studio building in the nation


Des Moines, IA — Mainframe Studios has scheduled its inaugural open studio event for Saturday, October 21, from 2 to 6 p.m. Years in the making, phase one renovations feature 65 non-residential artist studios, five arts-related nonprofit offices, commercial kitchen and a 4700 square foot event rental venue. The public is invited to the former CenturyLink facility at 900 Keosauqua Way to discover the talent of its artists representing 24 art disciplines. Attracting creative professionals near and far, 20 percent of its tenants are from out of town.

With two more floors to renovate, the 160,000 square foot Mainframe Studios facility will feature 180 artist studios once fully complete​ — making it the nation’s largest affordable workspace projects of its kind for artists. A standard studio is priced at $7 per square foot per year plus utilities with some artists paying as little as $114 per month for space. The waiting list for the next phase of renovations is growing.

Learning from firsthand experience, Mainframe Studios founder Justin Mandelbaum realized why artists continue to be priced out of neighborhoods across the nation as cities are revitalized. Landlords regularly face mounting pressure to convert their artist-occupied buildings to a “higher and better use.” Mandelbaum believes he found a solution: critical mass, low pricing, a creative and collaborative environment, monthly open studio events, and most importantly a self-sustaining nonprofit structure. Mainframe Studios purchased its building in 2014 to transform it into a modern hub of creativity​ — one that stands the test of time, ensuring that artists are never priced out of Des Moines.

As cities grow and revitalize, artists play a nomadic role in gentrifying new neighborhoods to the appeal of developers. Mainframe Studios is changing this storyline and harnessing the impact creative professions have on innovation, economic vibrancy, a skilled workforce, tourism and social well being.

Studies continue to substantiate the role creative professions have in strengthening communities. The recent Americans for the Arts’ Arts and Economic Prosperity Five report states that the arts and culture sector in the Greater Des Moines region is a $185 million industry.

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Once Mainframe Studios is fully operational, affordable studio rental rates are priced to cover operating expenses and a reserve fund, with remaining operating income to fund an endowment, eliminating the need for annual fundraising.

In the meantime, Mainframe Studios is fundraising to pay for building acquisition and renovation costs. Halfway to its goal of $12 million, the nonprofit’s vision is resonating with funders. The Lauridsen Family Endowment recently contributed a lead gift of $1 million.

About Mainframe Studios

Mainframe Studios is a 501(c)3 non­profit whose mission is to provide permanent affordable workspace to artists of all disciplines. We are transforming Central Iowa’s art scene by creating a financially self-­sustaining economic and cultural driver, serving as a national model that stands the test of time. Open since August 2017, our nonprofit is exceeding expectations in revealing local hidden talent, delivering remarkable building renovations and affordability, attracting new residents, fostering collaborations and ensuring artists never get priced out of Des Moines. More at :,, @mainframearts

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