Event: Kennedy Center American College Theatre Festival Region 5
Date: Jan. 21, 2018

On Jan. 21, 2018, 1,500 college theater students from across the region descended on Greater Des Moines for the Kennedy Center American College Theatre Festival Region 5. Celebrating its 50th year, participating students came from Iowa, Kansas, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota and South Dakota for a wide range of professional development opportunities in all areas of theater.

Previously held exclusively on college and university campuses until it was held in Des Moines in 2017, the 2018 event was a true collaboration of several players in Des Moines.

Over six days, events were held at Hoyt Sherman Place, the Des Moines Civic Center, Temple for Performing Arts and the Kum & Go Theater at the Des Moines Social Club. In total, the Festival brought $2.3 million in economic impact to Greater Des Moines.

Continuing our tradition of creating a personalized experience for each group we work with; Catch Des Moines and Festival organizers considered every detail when creating a plan to provide a localized destination experience and offer an experiential environment for Festival attendees.

A few examples include:

Taking the Festival to the Community

Instead of keeping all events at one venue, Catch Des Moines and Festival organizers involved several local theater venues, all less than one and half miles apart, from the 2,700-plus-seat Civic Center to the 200-seat Kum & Go Theater. It was an excellent showcase of the amount and variety of theater options in Des Moines.

This approach brought attendees out into the community before, during and after Festival events.

Collaboration Between Events

In town the same week as KCACTF5, the Iowa Pork Congress was looking for ways to deliver its message of the work pork producers do. After reaching out to Catch Des Moines, the Iowa Pork Producers Association (the organizers of the Congress) sponsored a dinner for KCACTF5.

In exchange for picking up the cost of the dinner, IPPA was able to present to attendees on the work that the pork producers do on a daily basis. It was so successful that the IPPA has completed nearly a dozen similar presentations since.

A Customized Social Experience

In addition to social media shout-outs on all channels, Catch Des Moines created a custom Snapchat filter for KCACTF5 attendees to use during their stay in Greater Des Moines. Use of all social media channels was encouraged by sandwich boards placed throughout event venues.

Catch Des Moines Snapchat Filter

Attention to the Details

While the use of several local venues created an opportunity for attendees to see more of the city, it also created the need to provide transportation options. Organizers decided that, with the close proximity of most venues, walking would be the best option.

After foreseeing the potential for attendees to lose their way between venues, Catch Des Moines created sandwich board signs with helium balloons to provide directions. Geared toward college students, the team used clever verbiage to make the walk fun, especially in Midwestern January temperatures. It was a simple, yet effective, solution that received positive feedback.

After a successful 2017 which saw Greater Des Moines host the wildly popular Solheim Cup and land the bid for the 2019 NCAA men’s basketball tournament, the unique and detail-focused execution of the Kennedy Center American College Theatre Festival Region 5 was the ideal way to carry that momentum into 2018.

“Word is getting out that Des Moines has the infrastructure, know-how and unique amenities that are the prerequisites to successfully hosting events and conventions, both big and small,” said Greg Edwards, president and CEO of Catch Des Moines.

“From arts and culture events to basketball and wrestling; to swine and rabbits; it’s clear that Greater Des Moines truly does have something for everybody,” he added.


Catch Des Moines