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City Sounds Receives an Iowa Arts Council Grant!  

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City Sounds is thrilled to announce that we are recipients of a $8500, 2018 Iowa Arts Council Grant. This money will be used to support two of our pianos as well as programming during our 2018 season. A big thank you to Iowa taxpayers for supporting cultural initiatives in Des Moines and across our state!  

PARTNER SPOTLIGHT: Greater des moines partnership

Thank you to the Greater Des Moines Partnership for supporting projects like City Sounds which contribute to making DSM USA a nationally recognized arts and culture hub. As the fastest growing region in the Midwest, much of that is due to community investment and support for public art, which adds vibrancy and makes DSM an event better place to live, work and play. 

Pro-tip: What if the piano is covered?


Have you visited your favorite piano only to find it covered. Don't worry! Caretaker contact info is posted on the cover so you can give them a quick call to uncover it.

About Us

In 2014, City Sounds’ Founders Larry James and Kathryn Dickel worked with the City of Des Moines, West Music and a bevy of sponsors to place two pianos in downtown Des Moines. 2016 saw the project expand to 10 pianos and two new communities in the metro area as well as our first short-term "mobile piano" deployment during the 80/35 Music Festival. In 2017, we saw these highlights:

• Maintained 10 pianos throughout the Metro.

• Created a season launch with a traveling concert to all 10 locations which ended with an art auction and finale concert at Peace Tree Brewing Company, featuring Dave Zollo.

• Enhanced program offerings through strategic partnerships with the Historic East Village Association, the Sherman Hill Association, Des Moines Performing Arts and the Des Moines Social Club.

• Programming efforts resulted in supporting and hiring nearly 20 musicians through the project.

• Solidified our relationship with Mainframe Studios by leasing an official space and placing our first “winter piano” in their lobby.

• We launched a new brand and website for City Sounds.

• Received our first BRAVO grant. 


Want to see more? Check out our galleries from previous years!

City Sounds Public Piano project was started with a mission to engage the local arts community with people who may not have easy access to the wonderful visual artists and musicians our city has to offer. 

“We want our community to experience music as part of their daily lives not just something they pay to see. Places where music is ubiquitous in the culture are healthier, happier and more harmonious. That is the real power of music. ”


“The whole purpose is to generate life on the street and generate activity. In other areas where they have done this, it has been a real boon to business because it gets people out on the street.”