2024 Downtown Iowa City Spring Arts Guide

As winter melts away and flowers begin to bloom, Downtown Iowa City blossoms into a haven for arts and culture enthusiasts. The warmer weather brings more visitors to the area and Downtown Iowa City’s Cultural & Entertainment District calendar fills up with more events and programming for everyone to enjoy. There’s so much to do, we’ve compiled a list of activities art enthusiasts of all ages can look forward to. The 2024 Downtown Iowa City Spring Arts Guide heralds the arrival of a season brimming with excitement and creativity.

At the forefront of this cultural extravaganza is the Mission Creek Festival, a multi-disciplinary event that showcases the best in music, literature, and visual arts. From indie bands to literary luminaries, Mission Creek promises a feast for the senses that will leave audiences inspired and invigorated. This year’s lineup includes over 50 talented artists including Neko Case, Hanif Abdurraqib Osees, Indigo de Souza, and more!

For aspiring young musicians, The Englert Theatre presents the Crockpot Battle of the Bands, a unique opportunity for musicians aged 12-18 to showcase their talents in a free, friendly competition. With support from United Action for Youth and the Iowa City Public Library, this event promises to be a showcase of youthful energy and musical innovation. Additional Englert shows include the ongoing Track Zero series showcasing local artists and comedian Lewis Black’s Goodbye Yeller Brick Road, The Final Tour on April 25th. Free tours of the historical theatre will also be offered to the public on June 5th at noon.

At the University of Iowa Stanley Museum of Art, a special exhibition titled “To My Friends at Horn: Keith Haring and Iowa City” promises to be a highlight of the season. Opening on May 4th, this exhibition pays homage to the iconic artist Keith Haring and his connection to Iowa City, offering a rare glimpse into his groundbreaking work, enduring legacy, and the impact he left on the community. More activities at the Stanley include a Drawing Salon with Rober Caputo, Art & Write Nights, and a Generative Writing Workshop if you’re looking to try something yourself.

Meanwhile, at Public Space One, X.A. Li presents “Terminal Care,” an exhibition that challenges viewers to confront themes of mortality and the transient nature of existence. Through immersive installations and thought-provoking artworks, Li invites audiences to contemplate the fragility and beauty of life. The exhibition is open through April 12th at PS1’s 229 N. Gilbert St. location. Other offerings from PS1 include Gentle Yoga Classes, IC Poetry Lending Library, LGBTQ Iowa Library, Tango Tuesdays, and the 7th Annual Ice Cream Expo, a celebration of comics and alternative media that showcase the eclectic talents of local and regional artists.

Riverside Theatre unveils its latest production, “Herein Lies the Truth” by Aaron Pang, marking the world premiere of this deeply personal narrative. Chronicling the transformative aftermath of a life-altering accident, the play delves into themes of recovery, intimacy, and the complexities of truth. Through Pang’s autobiographical lens, audiences are challenged to reevaluate their perceptions of disability and race, prompting introspection on the nature of storytelling itself: who do we tell stories for, and what truths do they reveal? As a solo writer-performer and current MFA candidate at the Iowa Nonfiction Writers Workshop with previous credits at The Moth, Pang brings a raw authenticity to the stage, inviting audiences into a profound exploration of identity and resilience. If you want to get involved take a look at their improv classes or volunteer at the theatre.

And for those seeking a theatrical experience, Broadway’s renowned musical “Chicago” graces the stage of Hancher Auditorium, promising an evening of dazzling performances and unforgettable melodies. With its timeless tale of love, betrayal, and redemption, “Chicago” will surely captivate audiences. The show runs May 3rd – 5th. If you can’t make it, try attending the University of Iowa’s Spring Opera: Fierce by William Menefield on April 26th and 27th, or take a free pubic tour of Hancher Auditorium on May 1st to get a behind-the-scenes look at the space.

As the season unfolds, Prairie Lights Bookstore continues to enrich the cultural landscape with captivating readings and events. From Sarah Braunstein’s conversation with Rachel Yoder to Ellen Birkett Morris’s debut novel reading, Prairie Lights offers literary experiences that stimulate the mind and inspire the soul.

And for those who prefer outdoor entertainment, FilmScene in the Park provides an unparalleled cinema experience under the stars. The first showing premieres May 25th with Twister, an all-time favorite from 1996 starring Helen Hunt and Bill Paxton. Members of KCRG’s Storm Team will present before the movie as part of FIlmScene’s Science on Screen series.

With an array of events spanning music, art, film, literature, and more, the 2024 Downtown Iowa City Spring Arts Guide promises to be a season of discovery, inspiration, and unforgettable moments. Whether you’re a seasoned art enthusiast or simply looking for a cultural escape, Downtown Iowa City invites you to immerse yourself in the magic of the spring season.