Who is DCFAS?

The Dubuque County Fine Arts Society (DCFAS) is a volunteer-driven 501 (c) (3) not-for-profit arts organization serving the Dubuque, Iowa community. DCFAS serves as an “umbrella” organization for a range of affiliate groups and programs and is governed by an active volunteer board and committees. The group’s mission is “to encourage, promote, and present local and regional arts including music, writing, theater, and fine art.” DCFAS is the organization that artists and arts organizations look to for support, assistance, and fulfillment.  DCFAS informs those who value art about art-related community news. Our core values are: Art is experiential, impactful, and builds community. Innovation and creativity are key to success. We seek to be inclusive and reach to populations traditionally underserved by the arts community. We adhere to equality in presenting a variety of arts from visual, theater, literature, and beyond. We provide perseverance during difficult times.

Born in 1976

With a team of like-minded individuals,  Ruth and Russ Nash founded Fine Arts Society in 1976 to enrich the cultural landscape of Dubuque. With Russ and Ruth’s passing in 2000 and 2002, respectively, board members and volunteers committed themselves to maintaining the core programs of the organization and guiding DCFAS toward a more sustainable future.  The challenge of reinventing Fine Arts Society has resulted in a number of new volunteers, committee and board members, bringing new ideas, energy, and vitality to the group while remaining true to its mission to provide free or low-cost access to arts experiences through a variety of cultural programming.

Our Mission

Visual arts, music, film, words, theatre, dance, and performance challenge and enrich lives. Arts organizations and cultural institutions all share a sense of purpose: to share with our fellow beings the human joy of creation springing from the soul, heart, and mind. Dubuque is host to dozens of arts organizations whose missions enrich our cultural landscape and grow our economy, DCFAS is proud to be one of them. In the last 40 years, DCFAS has evolved into a dynamic non-profit arts organization that serves as an “umbrella” for a number of program affiliates. We currently serve five affiliate groups with individual disciplines. We exist to celebrate and promote a variety of inclusive arts opportunities at low or no cost to educate, entertain and enrich our community. We believe cultural enrichment through the arts cultivates diversity and raises the quality of life. DCFAS is a pioneer as an incubator for projects to gain mentorship and a foothold in the community. This is unique to our organization and is at the root of our cultural leadership. DCFAS’s incubator model is driven by standards of excellence and has provided many hours of volunteer time to support our affiliates. We offer mentorship, fundraising strategies, grant writing help, project development and implementation, liability insurance, provide board training, and encourage interdisciplinary collaboration between our all-arts network. Our newest affiliate, Mississippi River Art Workshops (MRAW), moved from idea to implementation in 8 months and quickly evolved into Bluff Strokes. Perhaps our most notable affiliate, Voices from the Warehouse was adopted in 2008 and grew under our leadership until it was ready to establish its own 501 (c)(3) in 2013. Voices has had a key role in the revitalization of the Historic Millwork District and making Dubuque a destination for the Arts. DCFAS provides fiscal support, shared resources, and guidance on how to navigate the non-profit community. Guided by our mission and mentorships by board members, new affiliates retain an artistic license to their creative endeavors and experience growth. In many ways, we exist to support creativity and achievement for as long as affiliates need. This is our organization’s ongoing work.

Community Impact

In past years DCFAS affiliates have received Dubuque 365 Impact Awards for several categories including Arts, New Idea, and Social Space. The awarded affiliates include Dubuque Area Writers Guild, DubuqueFest, Mississippi River Art Workshops, and past affiliates Rogue Collections and Voices from the Warehouse. DCFAS is a strength to the Dubuque Community because its multi-disciplinary affiliates create more impact. For example, DBQ One Acts provides many levels of creative experience or engagement that bring impact. You can write and submit a one-act play. If you are not a writer, you can be on the reading panels to evaluate these submitted plays. You can volunteer to direct or act in the plays. You can assist with rehearsals, you can design and build the set. You can work “back of house” to produce the performances. Each of these positions is a creative experience. You can be an audience member, and then take part in the Q&A with winning playwrights; this is another layer of community impact. In Dubuque Area Writers Guild creates the opportunity for authors of any age to be published. Several years ago when they did a “children only” print, it was amazing to hear these young authors read their work. Parents were so pleased that their children were being celebrated. The kids who might be overlooked because they weren’t on the sports team, or didn’t have good grades, were being encouraged to continue their passion of writing, which is a significant impact on Dubuque’s writers. In 2018, they teamed with The Facing Project to produce a printed volume of first-person narratives from our LGBTQ+ community. DubuqueFest Fine Arts Festival provides an economic impact to all Artists with their work for sale in Washington Park and all musicians on stage. Our impact on the thousands of Dubuquers that attend the art fair and festival is less quantifiable, and more about exposure. DubuqueFest staff works for 9 months of the year to find new music performers and visual artists to bring to the Dubuque Community, impacting the community to see art and creativity all around them. The impact of DCFAS’s multi-disciplinary affiliates enhances the vitality of the growing arts in the city and across the state. Our annual arts calendar provides a wide range of opportunities for thousands of people of all ages to create, experience, earn, or volunteer.