Skip to content Skip to sidebar Skip to footer

Five fellows accepted into pilot program of the Iowa Creative Incubator

Mainframe Studios has announced the five fellows accepted into Iowa Creative Incubator, a new program designed to create new pathways between artists and businesses to build more collaborative, vibrant and connected communities.

The new initiative includes a personalized 4-month fellowship program that helps artists navigate the process of broadening their career possibilities by partnering with organizations and industries on projects that prioritize social engagement. 

The organization designed the incubator with consultant and composer Beau Kenyon to build confidence in artists to pursue larger projects, encourage businesses to engage with creative professionals to achieve company objectives, and unify the community by fostering partnerships that build a more equitable future.

With support from Iowa Arts Council, the pilot program will offer participating fellows space to work, up to 30 hours of customized professional development with Kenyon, access to a team of advisors, and assistance in developing partnerships with businesses and other organizations.

“Art is a powerful connector and it is in everyone’s best interest to make space for artists to thrive,” said Mainframe’s executive director Siobhan Spain in an announcement.

The 2020 Iowa Creative Incubator Fellows are:

Amenda Tate (

An established local artist recognized for employing technology to produce community-driven kinetic paintings using her “Manibus” machine. Amenda is exploring ways to amplify her performances that prioritize accessibility, participation and the act of witnessing to bridge societal divides, break down barriers and build empathy.

Cameron Gray (@cam_gogh)

A recent graduate of Iowa State University where he earned a Masters of Fine Art. Cameron combines his distinctive art practice with inclusive interactions, services and dialogues to impact meaningful community connections. He is seeking to advance his career that uses art to lift up marginalized members of society. 

Chrissy Jensen (

Owner of Domestica, an independent artist-design shop that has supported the launch of numerous small creative businesses. Chrissy is developing a community print shop that uses the re-emerging Risograph machine method to connect civic initiatives and workforce development.

DeAn Michael Kelly (

Describes himself as a “creative activist seeking truth, justice, peace and harmony.” DeAn is looking to further his work with Beyond Walls, his self-improvement organization that uses Hip Hop, nature and body alignment to make positive changes in the community.

Jill Wells (

Jill’s paintings depict dynamic and colorful narratives informed by her work as an alcohol and drug counselor. Jill’s project goals include working with Orchard Place and Polk County Juvenile Detention Center, aligning her creative process and counseling experience to address issues such as incarceration rates, mental health and substance abuse. 

The descriptions of the fellows listed above have been provided by Mainframe Studios.

Five fellows accepted into pilot program of the Iowa Creative Incubator | Clay & Milk
A central Iowa ag-tech accelerator has secured more backers and finally has a name. The Greater Des Moines Partnership first announced the accelerator last year, naming four initial investors. On Monday, the Partnership said the program will be called the "Iowa AgriTech Accelerator" and named three new investors. The new investors include Grinnell Mutual, Kent Corp. and Sukup Manufacturing, all Iowa companies. They join investors Deere & Co., Peoples Co., Farmers Mutual Hail Insurance Co. and DuPont Pioneer. Each investor has agreed to put up $100,000 for the first year of the accelerator. Startups entering the program will receive $40,000 in seed funding in exchange for 6 percent equity. Tej Dhawan, an angel investor and local startup mentor, is serving as interim director until the AgriTech Accelerator names a permanent leader. Dhawan held a similar role with the GIA before Brian Hemesath was named as managing director. As interim director, Dhawan said his main job includes hiring the accelerator's executive director, establishing a business structure and initial recruiting for the first cohort. The accelerator will place few filters, such as location and product, on the applicant pool, Dhawan said. "When you’re seeking innovation, innovation can come from every corner of the world so why restrict ourselves," he said. One area the the AgriTech Accelerator won't recruit from is biotech. For its first cohort, the AgriTech Accelerator will work out of the GIA's space in Des Moines' East Village, Dhawan said. A future, permanent home is still to be decided. The accelerator's program will host startups from mid-July through mid-October, ending with an event connected to the annual World Food Prize. The GIA, which the AgriTech Accelerator is based on, also ends with presentations at an industry event. The accelerator has also started lining up a mentor pool. The Iowa Corn Growers Association, Iowa Soybean Association and the Iowa Pork Producers Association have agreed to provide mentors, as has Iowa State University. While the AgriTech Accelerator is loosely based off of the GIA, it will differ in its business structure, Dhawan said. The GIA runs through a for-profit model for both operations and its investment fund. The AgriTech Accelerator will have a nonprofit model for its operations and a for-profit setup for its fund. Dhawan said the nonprofit model is being used so the accelerator can better work with other nonprofit partners, such as trade associations. "These are all organizations that are nonprofits and can be amazing stakeholders without ever having to be investors in the accelerator," he said. "It becomes easier to work with trade associations in their nonprofit role when we are also a nonprofit." When it's up and running, the AgriTech Accelerator would be one of a handful of ag-focused startup development programs in Iowa. Others include the Ag Startup Engine out of Iowa State University and the Rural Ventures Alliance from Iowa MicroLoan. Matthew Patane is the managing editor and co-founder of Clay & Milk. Send him an email at
This Pop-up Is Included in the Theme
Best Choice for Creatives
Purchase Now