Saturday, February 24, 2024

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The Culture Buzz

Greetings, Cultural Catalysts:


The Covid-19 pandemic persists. Be safe. Be considerate. Be compassionate. Strongly consider getting your vaccinations.
Continue to be creative. Find ways to celebrate your thankfulness safely with family, friends and others.
– John Busbee for The Culture Buzz, 2014 Iowa Governor’s Award for Partnership & Collaboration in the Arts

Quote of the Week
“Imagination grows by exercise, and contrary to common belief, is more powerful in the mature than in the young.” 
– W. Somerset Maugham (1874-1965) an English playwright, novelist, and short-story writer

Ballet Des Moines, Iowa Stage Theatre Company and Max Wellman & Friends
A Midsummer Night’s Swing will be a stylish celebration of the season, featuring Jazz Interludes from Max Wellman, pianist Nate Sparks, Shakespeare readings by Iowa Stage Theatre, and six Sinatra-style songs featuring vocalist Tina Haase Findlay and the dancers from Ballet Des Moines. Sat, May 29, 2021, 7:00 PM CDT. Des Moines Water Works Park, 2201 George Flagg Parkway, Des Moines, IA at the Lauridsen Amphitheater.

Clive Library delivers exceptional live author events in June
June 2 – Author Joy Neal Kidney – Feel free to bring a picnic dinner and a chair, and join us for an outdoor visit with author and local historian Joy Neal Kidney. Joy will talk to us about “Leora’s Letters: The Story of Love and Loss for an Iowa Family During World War II” and the recent release about her grandmother, “Leora’s Dexter Stories: The Scarcity Years of the Great Depression.” Joy Neal Kidney, the oldest granddaughter of the book’s heroine, is the keeper of family stories, letters, photos, combat records, casualty reports, and telegrams. Married to a Vietnam Air Force veteran, Joy lives in central Iowa.  Her nonfiction has been published in The Des Moines Register, other media, and broadcast over “Our American Stories.” She’s a graduate of the University of Northern Iowa, and her essays have been collected by the Iowa Women’s Archives at the University of Iowa. 
The Culture Buzz interview with Joy:…
June 16 – Nancy Drew: Iowa Heroine to the World –  Nancy Drew is the most popular teen detective in fiction.  More than 200 million copies of Nancy Drew mysteries have been sold, and her books have been translated into 45 different languages.  Few know, however, that Nancy is an Iowa heroine and that an Iowa writer, Mildred Augustine, created Nancy’s winning character and personality.  Her authorship of the first Nancy Drew mysteries-and single-handed creation of Nancy’s admirable character-were kept secret for more than 50 years.  Barbara Lounsberry, Iowan and former Professor of English at the University of Northern Iowa, will be here to share with us her presentation on Nancy and Mildred, designed to fortify Iowans young and old. Registration required.
The Culture Buzz interview with Barbara:
Explore Clive Public Library’s programming at

Cultural exploration opportunities

  1. Civic Music Association will present another season with the masterful Belin String Quartet. This year’s season will be presented Wednesdays, 5:30 PM, at the Salisbury House & Gardens through July 28. Full schedule available at
  2. A Love Offering is a co-production of Pyramid Theatre Company and The Des Moines Community Playhouse, opening Fri Jun 4 and continuing through Jun 20. In-person, livestream and VOD options to experience this powerful story.
  3. Atlas of Mud breaks through as Theatre Midwest’s return to live theatre on Sat Jun 12 at 7:30 and Sun Jun 13 at 2:00. Virtual shows will be available those dates, as well as Jun 19 and 20.
  4. ACT (Ankeny Community Theatre) Readers Virtual Theater is pleased to be introducing South Dakota by Eric Coble on Sunday June 13 at 7:30 pm. Featuring some of your favorite characters from famous musicals of years past, like Billy Bigelow, Anna, the King, Enoch, Ado Annie, and many more, we’ll discover how they handle a new mission—-getting to the Dream Ballet!
  5. Visit for more information on Scriptease, and visit Iowa Stage Theatre Youtube page for their latest audio drama. Audio dramas are released every two weeks. Our latest is Chekov’s The Ninny, from our series “Love, for Short.” You can also subscribe to our patreon at ‘’ to access our Scriptease Audio Drama Catalogue, featuring our first three audio dramas from “Love, for Short”.
  6. Teachers, parents, and schools across the country will gain access to Des Moines Metro Opera’s Virtual Opera Curriculum, an online music education series offered as part of the organization’s OPERA Iowa programming. This engaging virtual curriculum teaches students the basics of opera, culminating with a professional, filmed performance of the children’s opera, Rusalka: The Littlest Mermaid. The curriculum series will be available for classroom use through July 2, 2021, and includes short informational videos like “What is Opera?” and “How Do You Sing Like That?” as well as related activities, worksheets and games to increase engagement with students and to check for understanding.
  7. Civic Music Association presents the next offering in its Play On Series. This livestream happens at 7:00 PM, and is sponsored by G. David (dec.) & Trudy Holman Hurd.
  8. The Community Jazz Center renews its popular jam sessions the first Sunday of each month at Java Joes Fourth Street Theater.


  1. Annual Landscape Show May 28 – Jul 17. Join Olson-Larsen Galleries on Sunday May 23rd at 2pm CST as we have a live, virtual conversation with new O-L artist, Olivia Valentine and writer/curator, Shannon Stratton.
    Valentine’s recent solo exhibition at the Des Moines Art Center was accompanied by a thoughtful essay written by Stratton.
  2. “Compelling Ground: Landscapes, Environments, and Peoples of Iowa” is open now through July 23 at the Brunnier Art Museum in Ames, IA. Exhibition features art and installations from nineteen artists inspired by Iowa’s landscape.
  3. The Grinnell College Museum of Art is open by appointment, Tue thru Sat, noon to 5 pm. Visitors who need to schedule a visit on Mondays or mornings, please Director Lesley Wright, Also contact Lesley Wright if you want to come with a group.
  4. Terrace Hill Opens for Tours, are available by reservation. Tours are at 10:30 and 12:00, Tuesday – Saturday. Please call 515-242-5841 to make a reservation.

“Support a Local Business” tips of the week:

  1. 6 ways to support small businesses: Write a positive review; tell your friends & family; follow them on social media; engage with their posts; give them a shout out; sign up for their newsletter. Cost to do this: $0.00.
  2. Tangerine Foods at Mainframe Studios. A great local business ready to give you more time with your family and friends. Get on Cherry’s mailing list and receive random updates about “popup” dining opportunities… even take a meal home.

This week’s guests on The Culture Buzz –

  • 11:00 AM – Publisher Michael Swanger dons his writer’s cap to deliver a wonderful cover story in the new issue of Iowa History Journal. Bill Butler is one of Hollywood’s best-ever cinematographers, and hails from Mount Pleasant, Iowa. Michael chats about interviewing this centenarian, then shares highlights of the many other great stories in another informative, entertaining and inspiring issue.
  • 11:13 AM – Miriam Udel delivers a marvelous, deep dive into Jewish history in her “Honey on the Page: A Treasury of Yiddish Children’s Literature,” a rich resource of nearly fifty stories and poems from around the globe, most of them appearing for the first time in English translation. “These twentieth-century pieces…range from magical holiday stories to wonder-filled ballads to silly tales featuring the fools of Chelm. A perfect resource for families or religious school read-alouds.” ― Booklist
  • 11:29 AM – “Prohibition Wine: A True Story of One Woman’s Daring in Twentieth Century America” is a marvelous dive at the personal level of history, and how Marian Leah Knapp’s grandmother survived during incredibly trying times. Universal themes will resonate with readers in this wonderful book. “Through interviews, family histories, dogged combing of records, and even visits to cemeteries, Knapp has reconstructed the hardscrabble life of an immigrant grandmother she never knew. But if you’re looking for a poignant tale of a modest Jewish matron contentedly sewing piece goods in a tenement workshop, look elsewhere. Rebecca Wernick Goldberg, widowed early and responsible for the care of six children, was above all else a survivor, and the story of how she built an illegal business in rural New England, outwitted the authorities, and kept her family together is nothing short of inspirational.” ―Scott D. Seligman award-winning writer, historian, and author of The Great Kosher Meat War of 1902: Immigrant Housewives and the Riots That Shook New York City
  • 11:48 AM – Samuel Pace-Tuomi’s enthusiasm rings loud in this chat about the 2021 48 Hour Film Project he produces. Registration is now open and teams are beginning to form or add members in preparation for this highly energized exploration of cinematic art.
  • 12:00 PM – Brig. Gen. Jim “Boots” Demarest is leading efforts to elevate a Desert Storm hero’s recognition to the Medal of Honor. As we pay more attention to those who have given the ultimate sacrifice for their nation, listen as Jim shares why Capt. Steve Phillis deserves this honor.
  • 12:13 PM – Courageous Fire is part of the dynamic cast of the next show to grace the Des Moines Playhouse’s John Viars Stage, “A Love Offering.” This collaboration project with Pyramid Theatre Company is co-directed by Tiffany Johnson (Pyramid’s Artistic Director) and Katy Merriman (Playhouse’s Artistic Director), and opens Fri Jun 4 with live and virtual attendance options.
  • 12:25 PM – “The Musical Human: A History of Life on Earth” is Michael Spitzer’s fascinating connecting of human history with music. Listen as Michael leads a lively chat about his discoveries and insights as his refreshingly insightful book spans time to give us a wonderful perspective. “Whether [Spitzer] is meditating on the utility of metaphor in capturing music’s intrinsic abstraction or discussing emotion theory across a sweep of genres, his writing is broad, deep, and layered . . . Weaving through history, philosophy, archaeology, and biology, he demonstrates how music was not serendipitously invented by human beings but rather is innate to this world. With humorous and concise prose, Spitzer makes a convincing case for the irreducible musical properties of human beings.” —Library Journal, starred review
  • 12:39 PM – Luke Epplin brings his exceptional writing skills to bear in this brilliant overview of ‘Our Team: The Epic Story of Four Men and the World Series that Changed Baseball History.” Luke shares peeks into his book that will captivate. “One of the most entertaining and important baseball books to come out in years. OUR TEAM’s Cleveland Indians of 1948 finally get the respect, the insight ― the historical attention ― they deserve. Think you know about baseball’s integration years? On the heels of Jackie Robinson’s breakthrough came another team beset with perhaps even more challenges and half the publicity. Luke Epplin brings all the drama, the strife, the unity and the ultimate triumph to you ― with the flair of a Satchel Paige windup, the power of a Larry Doby swing, and the panache of a Bill Veeck promotion!” ―Laurie Gwen Shapiro
  • 12:54 PM – When musical mastery and wonderful wit drive the muse in an artist, Susan Werner and her incredible body of work come to mind. “Egg Money” is a darkly brilliant Karma tune that will delight, as will all of her songs. Check them all out.
  • 12:59 PM – Nationally heralded poet Wendy Xu reads one of her works, “If You Aren’t Busy, I Think I’m on Fire.”

Cultural nuggets – 
Check out the Month of Sundays posts at this Facebook site. Thanks to Covid Recovery Iowa, a program with a wealth of ways to help, you will find resources, inspiration and more.

Beaverdale Books has re-opened, and still offers curbside or delivery service.
Updated hours: Sun/Mon: CLOSED; Tue – Fri: 10:00 – 5:30; Sat: 10:00 – 5:00

Top Ten sellers in our store last month – see what everyone’s reading!

  1. The Boy, the Mole, the Fox and the Horse, Charlie Mackesy
  2. Klara and the Sun, Kazuo Ishiguro
  3. The Code Breaker: Jennifer Doudna Gene Editing, and the Future of the Human Race, Walter Isaacson
  4. Dusk, Night, Dawn: On Revival and Courage, Anne Lamott
  5. We Are Water Protectors, Carole Lindstrom
  6. Caste: The Origins of Our Discontents, Isabel Wilkerson
  7. California Calling, Martin McGrane*
  8. Hidden Valley Road, Robert Kolker
  9. The Four Winds, Kristin Hannah
  10. The Midnight Library, Matt Haig

*Iowa Author!

Ongoing conversations with Callista Gould always deliver useful information. So much any merging or established professional could use is in her book, which, as she says, is “Best. Graduation Gift. Ever.” The book, The Exceptional Professional: What You Need to Know to Grow Your Career, is the perfect gift for that graduating daughter, son, grandchild, niece, nephew or good friend’s or neighbor’s child who never writes a thank you note. Check out to get a copy for someone you care about.

PERFORMING & VISUAL ARTS plus Other Cultural Consideration
Please check in advance regarding any scheduled performances, exhibitions, museum visits, etc.

  • Ankeny Community Theatre –; Facebook: Ankeny Community Theatre
  • Carousel Theatre of Indianola –; Facebook: Carousel Theatre Indianola
  • Class Act Productions –; Facebook: CAPTheatre
  • Des Moines Community Playhouse/Kate Goldman Theatre –; Facebook: DMPlayhouse
  • Des Moines Performing Arts/Temple Theater –; Facebook: Des Moines Performing Arts
  • Des Moines Young Artists’ Theatre –; Facebook: DM Young Artists Theatre
  • Iowa Shakespeare Experience –; Facebook: Iowa Shakespeare Experience
  • Iowa Stage Theatre Company –; Facebook: Iowa Stage Theatre Company
  • Pyramid Theatre Company –; Facebook: Pyramid Theatre Company
  • Tallgrass Theatre Company –; Facebook: Tallgrass Theatre Company
  • TheatreMidwest –; Facebook: TheatreMidwest
  • Urbandale Community Theatre –; Facebook: Urbandale Community Theatre


  1. Des Moines Community Playhouse. Check their audition page regularly for upcoming opportunities at
  2. Iowa Stage Theatre Company. You can add your name to their audition notice list at
  3. Theatre Midwest. Check their audition page regularly for upcoming opportunities at
  4. Des Moines Young Artists Theatre. Check their audition page regularly for upcoming opportunities at

Cultural Engagement Opportunities:

  1. Check with galleries, organizations, destinations you frequented before the pandemic. Many are producing creative and unique ways to engage again…get your cultural fix.
  2. Nocé has instigated strict COVID protocols while launching live music at its destination-worthy venue – check out the schedule and find a time to savor the sublime setting and national-caliber music.
  3. Civic Music Association announces its 2020-2021 Season. Check it out.
  4. The Des Moines Symphony will present an appealing series of concert experiences. Check for details.
  5. Always changing, always beckoning, Iowa is a wonderland of cultural, natural and culinary delights. For your guide book, contact the Iowa Tourism office, visit their website, and get a hard coy of the new travel guide at 

Greater Des Moines Independent Book Store Happenings:
The Culture Buzz shares many authors and their books with its audiences. We encourage you to visit your local independent book store regularly. The folks at these destination locations know books, and welcome the chance to help anyone connect with titles and subjects they seek. Check these sites, as their calendars are always filled with enticing activities and news.

  1. Beaverdale Books, Des Moines.
  2. Pageturners Bookstore, Indianola.
  3. Dog-eared Books, Ames.
  4. Artisan Gallery 218, 218-5th Street, Historic Valley Junction, West Des Moines (select author events),
  5. Read a Book Nook, Marshalltown.
  6. Book Vault, Oskaloosa.
  7. Prairie Lights Books & Cafe, Iowa City.

Cultural Exploration Resources:
The Culture Buzz will begin including carefully vetted but comprehensive listings where you can do some advance online exploration before scheduling destinations in the region. These are two great websites to know about:

  1. The Culture Buzz – John Busbee and associates encourage cultural adventures with a comprehensive overview of what The Culture Buzz delivers. Included is an archive library of favorite interviews.
  2. Center Stage – This Cityview monthly column provides insights into Central Iowa’s theatre. Distributed throughout the region and available online. Current column:
  3. Cityview – Central Iowa’s monthly printed and continually updated online resource to all things happening in your community, from arts & culture, to music, to civic and political discourse, to fascinating columnists and stories. Cityview is the reliable source for keeping you informed and engaged in the Greater Des Moines community and beyond.
  4. dsm Magazine – Central Iowa’s gateway to arts, culture and more in a stunning, visual format. dsm’s CultureCast podcast features interviews with cultural leaders, artists and musicians.
  5. ia Magazine – Built upon the success of its Central Iowa counterpart, this annual gem brings enticing cultural news from across the state.
  6. Art Beacon Des Moines is Central Iowa’s home for promoting the visual arts. Our calendar of events highlights exhibitions, art talks and calls for art. Subscribe to the Art Beacon Weekly, our online newsletter filled with links to the latest art happenings. Find us on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.
  7. 900Views Podcast. An exploration of arts and community with Host Pat Boddy. Based out of Mainframe Studios in downtown Des Moines, 900Views provides a platform for glimpsing the creative work and lives of the Midwest’s cultural producers and influencers.
  8. Greater Des Moines Community Jazz Center is this region’s source for a decades-established advocacy group for jazz, and established jazz professionals guiding and nurturing next generations of jazz musicians and fans.
  9. Central Iowa Blues Society is the area’s connecting point for performance, presentations and education in the world of blues.
  10. Bryan Farland, for many years, single handedly puts together the most comprehensive list of live and streaming music in Iowa. Bryan reaches out two ways, and 

Resources to help, support and guide during any challenges you or someone you care about may be experiencing:

  • COVID Iowa Recovery: 800-775-9276
  • 1-800-950-NAMI (6264) or
  • United Way 211: Dial 211, text ZIP code to 898211 or visit
  • CICIL: #CICILServes COVID-19 Hotline: (866) 44-CICIL
  • Trans Lifeline: (877) 565-8860
  • LGBT National Youth Talkline: (800) 246-7743
  • LGBT National Talkline: (888) 843-4564
  • Des Moines Pastoral Counseling Center:
  • Broadlawns 24/7 Crisis Team: (515) 282-5752
  • Your Life Iowa Help Line: (855) 581-8111
  • Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 1-800-273-8255
  • Broadlawns Psychiatric Urgent Care: (515) 282-2200
  • Crisis Text Line: Text HOME to 741741 to be connected to crisis counseling
  • Online Mental Health Crisis Chat:
  • MercyOne Des Moines Behavioral Health Clinic: 515-643-9030.
  • Prelude Behavioral Services (substance treatment): 515-262-0349

As always, I appreciate news and information from you out there in the cultural trenches and am ready and willing to pursue a story or interview to share with my audiences. ♦

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