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Northwestern College pipe organ (copy)

The pipe organ at Christ Chapel on Northwestern College's campus is shown.

DES MOINES -- The Orange City Arts Council and Cherokee Historic Preservation Commission were among the recipients of more than $2 million in grants awarded by the Iowa Department of Cultural Affairs Thursday.

The Orange City Arts Council received $7,100 to bring Nobuntu, a female a cappella quintet, from Zimbabwe to Orange City for a performance at Northwestern College's Christ Chapel, which is scheduled for Oct. 16. Nobuntu has drawn international acclaim for its inventive performances that range from traditional Zimbabwean songs to Afro jazz to gospel.

The Cherokee Historic Preservation Commission received $7,742 for research to support the nominations of six Cherokee properties to the National Register of Historic Places.

"These grants are catalysts that can spark cultural and economic growth in historic downtowns, concert halls and, possibly, the studio of a future Grant Wood," Chris Kramer, acting director of the Iowa Department of Cultural Affairs, said in a statement. "We're proud to help Iowans make our state a culturally vibrant place to live, work and play."

According to the statement, the department received a slight increase in funding from state and federal officials, a reflection of widespread support for Iowa arts, history and culture. During the current cycle, the department received support from the Iowa Legislature's General Fund, the National Endowment for the Arts and the National Park Service Historic Preservation Fund.

Research shows that investments in arts and culture -- in museums, performances and historic buildings, for example -- help communities boost tourism, attract businesses, retain workers and improve the overall quality of life for residents.

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