Bricker-Price Block named as Recipient of a Recovery Program Grant

Recovery Program Funds to help Iowa’s Arts, Creative and Cultural Sector

Earlham, IowaBricker-Price Block is pleased to announce they have received support through the Iowa Arts & Culture Recovery Program from the Iowa Arts Council, a division of the Iowa Department of Cultural Affairs. Grant funds will help offset the revenue loss experienced because of the COVID-19 pandemic.  

The Iowa Arts & Culture Recovery Program will support a total of 267 cultural organizations and 152 artists in Iowa. Recipients will share $7 million in grants announced December 22, 2020 by the Iowa Department of Cultural Affairs.

“The Iowa Arts and Culture Recovery Program stabilizes a vital part of Iowa’s economy by helping our arts and cultural sector build a much-needed funding bridge for a stronger recovery,” Iowa Department of Cultural Affairs Director Chris Kramer said, “We are so grateful to Governor Kim Reynolds for her steadfast support of Iowa’s creative and cultural workforce. These grants provide relief for thousands of Iowans whose jobs and livelihoods have been impacted this year.”

“The Iowa Arts and Culture Recovery Program grant is incredible gift for Bricker-Price Block,” said Allissa Johnson, Bricker-Price Block Executive Director, “These funds will truly help to offset the revenue lost from cancelled community events and programming due to COVID-19. We are truly honored and humbled to be one of 267 cultural organizations in the entire state to receive these funds.”

Funding for the Iowa Arts & Culture Recovery Program is made possible by Governor Kim Reynolds and the Iowa Arts Council, a division of the Iowa Department of Cultural Affairs, through the federal CARES Act.

More about Bricker-Price Block

Since officially opening our doors on February 10, 2018, the vision for Bricker-Price Block has continued to be a community-focused event venue that welcomes our neighbors and friends of all ages in Earlham, Madison County and beyond. We host local, unique events like our annual Harvest Gathering Farm-to-Table Dinner and Trivia Events. The proceeds from these events go toward providing affordable programming for our youth and local senior citizens. We are also so honored to get the opportunity to help host and be a part of a number special life events in our community event venue. www.brickerpriceblock.com

More about The Iowa Department of Cultural Affairs

The Iowa Department of Cultural Affairs and its three divisions – the Iowa Arts Council, Produce Iowa-State Office of Media Production and the State Historical Society of Iowa – empower Iowa to build and sustain culturally vibrant communities by connecting Iowans to the people, places and points of pride that define our state. The department’s work enables Iowa to be recognized as a state that fosters creativity and serves as a catalyst for innovation where the stories of Iowa are preserved and communicated to connect past, present and future generations. www.iowaculture.gov

How We’re Choosing to Pivoting our Nonprofit Event Venue Business during a Pandemic

First of all, I’ve got to say that pivoting our nonprofit events and rental business among a pandemic has not been an easy task. But, we at Bricker-Price Block know that we are not alone in this. No part of this pandemic has been easy for ANYONE. Many parents are homeschooling their children while working full-time. Teachers have had to pivot their teaching styles to accommodate virtual learning. Several restaurants are adjusting their menus to accommodate to-go only ordering. And, many healthcare workers are putting their lives at risk every single day to ensure that our nation overcomes Coronavirus (COVID-19). No one is immune to dealing with the heartbreaking ramifications of this pandemic, but we’ve managed to figure out a few ways to pivot our nonprofit event and rental venue right now!

Pivoting is not the end of the disruption process, but the beginning of the next leg of your journey.Jay Samit

YES! We Are Still Hosting Events… Virtually

As soon as we closed our doors on March 16th, 2020, we began thinking of new ways that we could continue to be in community with our audience. Bricker-Price Block is a nonprofit performance and event venue that’s main source of income before Coronavirus (COVID-19) was live events. With live events no longer being an option, we looked for opportunities to host our events virtually.

We are currently hosting two virtual trivia events each week: Family Friendly Team Trivia every Thursday at 6:30 PM and Late Night Team Trivia every Saturday at 8:30 PM. Both events are free, but we elected to offer a free will donation option for our guests also. Our virtual trivia events have hosted up to 60 teams right from our hometown of Earlham, Iowa to as far away as Rochester, New York and Los Angeles, California.

We are continuing to look for new and innovative ways to host our events and programming. Contact us if you’d like to get involved.  

We can’t thank [Bricker-Price Block] enough for providing this for the community. [They] are honestly giving us about the only social interaction and fun outside of the family circle during this time. We had a blast, kids and all! – Virtual Trivia Participant

We’ve leaned on Our Supporters

Bricker-Price Block has got the best volunteers, and our past supporters (plus several new ones) have stepped up to the plate for us! They’ve spent their extra time in quarantine helping us come up with new trivia content and intriguing trivia themes. They’ve also helped supply us with our quarantine care package prizes from a handcrafted wooden slot hockey game and farm fresh eggs to outdoor games for kids and craft beer for the adults. If you are looking for ways to get involved in our community, contact us!

Family trivia [has been] such a bright light during this time! – Virtual Trivia Participant

We Are Staying Positive!

Lastly, we’re not letting this pandemic get the best of us! Every weekday, we are hosting live videos on our Facebook and Instagram pages with the intent to continue to build our community, sharing positive news, funny stories and some real-life quarantine experiences. This perspective has afforded us a unique opportunity to continue to be in community with our current supporters while creating new relationships with more people than we’ve ever imagined! Do you have some positive pandemic news to share? Let us know! We’d love to share with our community!

Top FIVE Reasons to Come to Trivia at Bricker-Price Block

#1: We have Something for {Almost} Everybody

We’ve changed something recently with our Team Trivia nights at Bricker-Price Block. Have you noticed? We no longer do 5 (five) trivia rounds of one-theme. Instead, we now do 6 (six) rounds of miscellaneous trivia! This new Team Trivia concept ensures that {almost} EVERYONE showing up to our Team Trivia events will be able to compete.  Unless, you don’t like to have fun. In that case, our Trivia nights may not be for you…

If you DO like to have fun though, you can expect some general knowledge trivia, photo trivia, a themed round or two of trivia, name that tune trivia, audio clip trivia, etc. Plus, you should see the tie breakers we come up with! One time we made teams chug eggnog! #ChristmasVacationTrivia

#2: It’s an Excuse to Get Together with {Your Fun} Friends + Family

For our Team Trivia events, we encourage you to gather up to 6 (six) team members, but that doesn’t mean you can’t have a team of 2 (two), 3 (three), 4 (four) or 5 (five). Call your college roommates, your high school buddies, your girlfriends, your bros, your sister, your brother, your great aunt Linda. It doesn’t matter to us who or how many people bring or what the occasion is! Just assemble a team, make sure they are FUN people and Bricker-Price Block will do the rest!

#3: You’re Bound to Learn Something New

Even if you don’t walk away with our Einstein trophy as our Team Trivia night winner, you will still walk away with some newfangled knowledge and fun facts to chat about at the water cooler with coworkers or at the dinner table with family. At Bricker-Price Block, we promise to bring out all of the best trivia every month from hysterical historical events to classical current events and every little fact in between.

#4: It’s Affordable Fun

I challenge you to find a more affordable night out than Team Trivia at Bricker-Price Block. It’s just $30 (thirty) per team. So if you have 6 (six) people on your team, that just $5 (five) per person for 6 rounds of trivia, for a night without the kids and for a great time! Can you think of any event more affordable? I can’t! We are firm believers that local events should be entertaining and affordable! You can get your team signed up for any one of our 2020 Team Trivia events here. We host our events every third Saturday of the month.

#5: We Only “Hire” Local Hosts & Bartenders

This year, we are going to be switching up our Team Trivia event hosts. We never actually “hire” our hosts or bartenders, they are all local volunteers who “work” for tips, free beer + a good time. Which means that every time you come to our trivia nights, you’ll see a familiar face that’s excited to entertain you for the night! It could be the former or current mayor of Earlham… It could be a local teacher or coach from the Earlham Community School District…. Or it could be one of Bricker-Price Block’s Board of Directors or our very own Executive Director, Allissa Johnson!

Team_UpDog celebrating a Team Trivia win!

Why We Chose to Host a Farm-to-Table Event

Typically, at Bricker-Price Block we are inviting folks to come inside our beautiful building, but on Sunday, October 20th we are shaking things up a bit.  For the first time since our inception we are welcoming guests directly outside our building to celebrate our first annual farm-to-table dinner and fundraiser, The Harvest Gathering.

On October 20th, if you take a stroll down Chestnut Avenue in Earlham, Iowa, you won’t see the bustling small-town main street that you might expect. Instead, you will likely run into a closed street, lined with community members, gathered together under a canopy of lights, breaking bread and seated together on one very large farm-style table. And if the smell of a locally-sourced five course meal doesn’t lure you in, the ever-familiar sound of Nada’s singer/songwriter, Jason Walsmith, will invite you to the table.

Why would we host this type of an event?

First of all, a little background on the farm-to-table movement that has become increasingly popular in the United States.  The goal with these farm-to-table dinners is to get to the roots of where food comes from, and how it makes its way from the fields to our dinner tables. As community members of Earlham, a largely agricultural community, this type of event just makes sense.

One of our Harvest Gathering committee members and event planners, Jen Fagan (co-owner of MADE for this. Events) said it best when she said, “fall is the perfect time to celebrate community by honoring the efforts of our local farmers and entrepreneurs.”

Second of all, one of our primary visions for our Bricker-Price building and our nonprofit business is to be community-focused. But what does that mean?

To our Board of Directors and to myself, this vision means opening our doors and our events to EVERYONE in our town, county, state and beyond. We strive to create and plan popular and trending programming and events that gauge the interests and meet the needs of EVERYONE.

Lastly, we wanted to extend this community opportunity to as many people, businesses and organizations as we could. There are so many people involved in this event, from the food suppliers to the chef, our committee, our sponsors, our welcomed guests and our amazing volunteers, we could not even come close to doing it alone. We appreciate everyone’s efforts in making our first annual farm-to-table event a success.

Here are just a few folks we’ve got to tell you about:

Joel Mahr, our chef, came highly recommended through the buzz of several folks across central Iowa. He and his wife Jill own Primrose in Corning, Iowa. Their farm-style food concepts with a modern twist is the same experience we are striving to give at our farm-to-table on October 20th. At Primrose, Joel & Jill keep it simple: the people are approachable; the food is farm-fresh and affordable; and it’s a family friendly atmosphere that keeps folks coming back.

Adding some more flavor to this event are the folks behind RJ Home, Jordana & Kasey Henke. Jordana & Kasey will use their unique vintage & handmade talents, showcased in their two downtown Earlham, Iowa shops, RJ Home North & RJ Home South, to breathe life into the streets of downtown Earlham.

Regan Doely, owner of Doe A Deer Design, is our graphic designer and creative genius for the Harvest Gathering. Regan’s talented designs are showcased through the Harvest Gathering logo, programs and our menus, that are creatively printed on her famous flour sack towels as a take away keepsake item from the event!

Why is Bricker-Price Block Non-Profit?

I’ve gotten asked this question a few times, “Why is Bricker-Price Block Non-Profit?”

If this is the first time you are hearing this, that’s correct – our local performance and event venue, Bricker-Price Block is, in fact, a 501(c) (3) which means it’s our organization’s goal to NOT make a profit.

Let me say this again for the people in the back of the room, Bricker-Price Block is not interested in making money. We are just interested in paying our bills to keep the lights on, the heat/air conditioning running and the free WiFi streaming. 

Why in the world would we do that?

Our mission is to provide a unique rental venue and event space that brings our community together in interesting and entertaining ways. We are very similar to the Blank Park Zoo or the Science Center of Iowa… only less black rhinos and no IMAX theatre.

Being a non-profit also makes us eligible to apply for grants that specifically achieve our community-focused mission. The perfect example of this is our Kid’s Club.

Kids showing off their silly faces during Bricker-Price Blocks local and affordable summer camps called Kid's Club.
Bricker-Price Block’s Kid’s Club: Making a Mess Camp

Our Kid’s Club is a schedule full of local and affordable summer educational programming that’s hosted by local teachers and other area organizations like Iowa State University Extension and Outreach: Madison County and the Des Moines Art Center.

Last fall, Bricker-Price Block applied and was awarded an anonymous grant to host the Kid’s Club camps and classes for children and provide FREE camps and classes specifically for children that fall within the 250% of the Federal Poverty Line.

Two girls making towers our of paper, paperclips and tape at Bricker-Price Block's Kid's Club.
Bricker-Price Block’s Kid’s Club: Making a Mess Camp

According to United Way of Central Iowa, only 22.9% of central Iowans live ABOVE the 250% Federal Poverty Line. And according to the National Center for Children in Poverty, poverty is the single greatest threat to children’s well-being. This is why offering free educational monogramming for that population in our community is so important to us!

Why is the community’s support is so vital to our mission?

Understanding our community’s needs so important and vital to achieve our community-focused mission. This why we frequently ask for feedback and encourage participation.

Without our community supporting our efforts, attending our events and providing valuable feedback, the Bricker-Price Block Board of Directors and I are not fulfilling our vision and mission to continue to provide a community-driven, innovative event space and affordable, one-of-a-kind rental venue. We want to be the most cost-effective place to go to when you need a place to host your daughter’s bridal or baby shower. We want to be the go-to event space for a date night with your husband that’s close to home. We want to be able to provide extracurricular educational and cultural experiences for our community, youth to seniors, at little to no cost.

If you want to get involved with or donate to Bricker-Price Block’s mission, please contact us. We’d love to hear from you!

Being Practical When Selecting an Event Venue: Part One

If you search Google to find a performance or event venue near you, you will most likely get a million results for wedding venues. But, what about venues for bridal showers, class reunions, birthday parties, meetings, bridal showers or any other social gathering? No matter what type of event you are planning, the venue or space you choose is a vital part to the success. Here are a few practical things to consider when booking an event venue:

Space

Do you know how many guest are coming? I think that is one of the most important details to figure out before you contact an event venue. Make a quick guest list on a piece of paper, or better yet – make a guest list in Microsoft Excel so that you can keep it for future events. Or, you could event use it to make address labels for your invites and thank you’s.

Once you have that guest list, make sure your venue can accommodate. If you will have 50 guests, find a venue that can hold about 75. I don’t suggest finding one that hold 200 for 50 guests, because you will have too much room to fill

with tables or decorations.

You could also consider an event venue like Bricker-Price Block in Earlham, Iowa that has a space that can easily be split in half. Our space can hold up to 140 seated guests, but you can save some money and only rent half the space for about 80 people.  At Bricker-Price Block, we have accommodated guest anywhere from 20 to 75 guests on just one side of our building.

Price

That brings me to my next point. According to WeddingWire.com, most couples spend between $2,700 and $10,500 for their wedding venue.  There are actually several ways to pinch pennies when it comes to a venue for any type of event.

First, you should consider what day of the week you have your social get-together. Typically, Saturday nights are the most popular and the highest cost.

Second, if you are only using half of the rental space, try to negotiate to only have to pay half of the rental fee. At Bricker-Price Block, you will only pay for the space you need. We rent out half of our space for half of the price more often that we rent out the entire space.

Lastly, consider finding a space that doesn’t require a lot of decorating. Book a venue like an old church with large stained glass windows, an eclectic store with vintage pieces or a historic building like Bricker-Price Block that feature original hardwood floors and 8-foot windows that provide a ton of natural light.

There are several other factors to consider when booking an event venue. Stay tuned to my next blog posts where I’ll discuss other aspects to consider like accommodations and accessibility.

Why We Are Called “Bricker-Price Block”

The names “Bricker” and “Price” came from the first two owners of the building. Cephas D. Bricker and Walter J. Price began construction on what would become known as the Bricker-Price Block just 30 years after Earlham, Iowa was established. Though each half was owned separately, the contractor J.E. Walton built the structure with a unified facade, matching cast-iron storefronts, and a shared central staircase.

Just one, short year after the iconic building was established, disaster struck Earlham’s central business district. A fire was discovered in the early morning hours of September 3, 1901, and it engulfed the wood structures in its path including the post office, butcher shop, restaurant and other retail stores.

The town’s hand-pump fire engine was overpowered by the flames until it reach the new Bricker-Price Block. The building’s brick-and-mortar construction was resistant to burning, and slowed the fire enough for it to be extinguished.

Though heavily damaged, the building survived, and later the Earlham town council credited the building with preventing any further damaged to the town.

That fire did not stop C.D. Bricker or W.F. Price from continuing their business ventures. Bricker’s business grew to include five general merchandise outlets, with Earlham as the flagship location. The W.F. Price & Co. operated for several decades, eventually closing in the 1930’s.

Overcoming the Odds

The Bricker-Price Block building was rebuilt, and over the next century it was home to many commercial endeavors including the Hawkeye Telephone Company from 1902 to 1928. It also served as a professional office space, a grocery store and a drug store. For a time, it even functioned as a unique, downtown residence complete with a personal elevator.

Unfortunately, another disaster struck the building in the spring of 2015. A strong storm uplifted the roof and caused catastrophic water damage which left the building unoccupied and falling into disrepair.

That along with the building’s history is what sparked a grassroots movement, and together the people of Earlham orchestrated a rehabilitation of the Bricker-Price Block. Through their efforts, the building is now listed in the National Register of Historic Places as a building worthy of preservation.

In 2018, more than a century after its doors first opened, the Bricker-Price Block once again welcomed the community inside, this time as a social gathering place reflecting the vibrant spirit of Earlham’s people.

While the building is a meaningful part of the Bricker and Price family stories, its central location and unique construction also make it an important witness to Earlham’s rich history.