Apply to Participate in Downtown’s Mural Program

(Apply here)

The Iowa City Downtown District announces a call for submissions for new murals in the alleyways in the heart of Downtown Iowa City. The murals will be painted in the spring and summer of 2018 as part of a broader initiative to develop interest, clean up, and increase safety in the alleys. The application period for mural proposals is now open through March 1st at

A community survey the Iowa City Downtown District launched this past summer indicated overwhelming interest and support for large scale murals. Thomas Agran, Director of Public Art for the Iowa City Downtown District, is managing the project. “Murals are a great way to activate underappreciated or unrecognized spaces, transforming an otherwise forgettable wall into a community asset,” said Agran. “They encourage us to simply look up and see our own urban fabric in a new way.”

The mural program will provide funded opportunities for public art downtown while the popular University of Iowa Community Credit Union Benchmarks bench-painting program takes a vacation during renovations of the pedestrian mall. Agran managed the popular UICCU Benchmarks project the past two summers. “The Benchmarks program has really matured over the years, and has helped give an entry point for local artists interested in public work,” said Agran. “I’m pleased that this project provides meaningful funded opportunities for public art to employ local artists while beautifying our city.”

The new alley mural project is primarily funded by the UICCU, along with the Iowa City Downtown District and other private sponsors. The calls for submission span a range of budgets and scales, accessible to both artists ready to make their first jump into larger public work and experienced muralists as well. The Iowa City Downtown District will be handling all of the permissions, insurance, permits, and communications to make the process easy for both artists and property owners.

“A strength of the Benchmarks program is that it offers a little something for everyone’s taste. It draws on our own diverse artistic community, gives those artists a lot of creative license, and has helped build trust with the community. As we see more public art projects come online, our ecosystem of public art strengthens, and I look forward to seeing more adventurous and innovative projects,” said Agran.

More information and applications can be found at, and applications are open until March 1, 2018. Interested property owners and businesses in the downtown area can still join the program by contacting Thomas Agran at Community members can get involved and support a project financially or with an in-kind donation by visiting