Alright, so quick introduction, I’m Tate Clemen. Currently, I’m pursuing a B.S.B.A in Accounting and Finance and a B.A. in Theatre, and I’m originally from the Kansas City area.
So, last year as I was making my second round of visits to Drake, I was talking with my admissions counselor, Evan, and we were discussing different scholarships that Drake offered. The Engaged Citizen Corps (ECC) came up, and, being so involved in service, I thought I’d look into it a little more. I ended up applying and got an interview with Amanda. In the car, on the way home from my third and final visit to Drake, I got the email that I had been accepted. That was one of the things that helped to secure the deal for me.
At the beginning of the year, we started the first part of the in-class section of the programs with FYS 024, “The Common Good,” which consisted of only the nine members of the ECC. This class was centered around Robert Lupton’s book Toxic Charity. Lupton’s book is a critique of the charitable industry, and shows the need for organizations that eliminate dependency and are sustainable. The ideas of his book had always been in the back of my head, but once put in words and examples, it was easy to see he was right. But this knowledge especially helped when transferring it to our worksite.
After a short “speed-dating” style of interviews with each partner site, I was paired with the Des Moines Music Coalition (DMMC). The DMMC is a Des Moines based non-profit whose main goal is to turn Des Moines into a “music city” through education and various advocacy projects. Their most known project is the implementation of the 80/35 Music Festival every July.
Going into the internship I had virtually no expectations, because I knew that it wouldn’t matter what work I was doing as long as I had the passion for cause, which I found with the DMMC. I soon discovered that I would be working as a Digital Marketing and Communications intern, working on various projects around the office, everything from designing and producing a new website to reorganizing our storage unit. The Music Coalition is quite a bit different than the other organizations the ECC works with, because they do not necessarily deal with what one would usually see as a “social problem” like poverty or homelessness, but instead the untapped potential of the Des Moines music and art scene. When people think of Des Moines, their minds usually don’t go straight to music, as it might with Nashville or New York. Due to this mission, my work with the Des Moines Music Coalition has helped me integrate myself into the Des Moines community, and further my understanding of the art scene in the city, and the struggles that it holds.
In my time with the DMMC, it has become very apparent that the government within Des Moines is limiting the growth of the scene. This is currently an ordinance within the city limits that dictate that if a music venue’s revenue is over 50% alcohol sales, then anyone under 21 is not allowed in after 9pm. This highly limits smaller venues like Lefty’s or the Vaudeville Mews from fulfilling their potential. A majority of Drake’s population is under 21, and with Lefty’s being within walking distance from campus, there is a huge market that cannot be tapped due to Des Moines’ ordinance. It was important to first understand what was happening within the music scene, and then I was able to see the DMMC’s vision and mission.
One of the largest projects that I’ve worked on is the Music Coalition’s new website. Jarin, the executive director, wanted to completely overhaul the old website and wanted something that resonated more with our target market. The old website read as “a nonprofit website,” and we wanted to cater to where a majority of the DMMC’s patrons reside, in the younger, millennial generation. We wanted to represent a feeling and an idea, a feeling of fun and of what we are truly about.
This experience has really helped me to get a greater grasp of the Des Moines community, and the need for the presence of art in the form of music within the city. It has also given me the opportunity of seeing the inner workings of how a nonprofit works. Almost all of my prior experience with the nonprofit industry was on the front lines, what is referred to as “direct service,” what people would usually think of when talking about volunteer work. But very seldom do people get to see the behind the scenes of an organization. This program has helped me apply what I’m learning in class to “the real world,” and helped expand my views of the world and the nonprofit industry.
“Art is the only serious thing in the world. And the artist is the only person who is never serious.”
― Oscar Wilde
Written by: Tate Clemen