What We Do

The After School Arts Program provides year-round arts classes, camps, and programs free of charge for children in Greater Des Moines, most of whom would otherwise not have such opportunities because of barriers like cost, transportation, language, and perceived non-belonging.

ASAP brings quality arts instruction and all supplies to where these kids already are in out-of-school time — their schools, parks, libraries, and community centers. ASAP Teaching Artists lead studio classes in all arts disciplines: literary arts like poetry and storytelling, 2D and 3D visual art, drama, music, dance, culinary art, and more.

A group of kids in ASAP t-shirts with handmade kites

Our Programs

ASAP customizes programming to meet the unique needs of each partner school or organization, matching Teaching Artists and specific arts programs to each particular community of young people.


After-School Arts Enrichment Classes

This original ASAP studio class design, launched in 2007, connects small groups of students with quality arts instruction during vulnerable after-school hours, when most would otherwise lack opportunities for arts engagement. Since 2016, ASAP has delivered these classes through its push-in model, taking the arts to where kids already ARE in out-of-school times. ASAP hosts nearly 50 studio classes per week; most are 6–8 weeks long.


ASAP Piano Lab

Weekly semi-private keyboard lessons are provided for small cohorts of committed students, free of charge at their school. Piloted in 2019, this program runs October to April and culminates in spring recitals for family and friends.


ASAP Drama Clubs

Middle-school theater programming is beneficial for students’ literacy and social-emotional development. ASAP developed this program in 2014 to fill a void in Des Moines Public Schools’ course catalog and activities for grades 6–8. Currently operating in 3 middle schools, each club culminates in a spring performance in their school auditorium and sometimes with additional performances in the community.


ASAP Days at the Public Library

ASAP’s newest initiative is ASAP Day at four library branches: North, South, East, and Forest Avenue. Weekly programs are organized in monthly series, and are open to all young people, who are encouraged to provide feedback on what else they would like to explore in future sessions. Youth Librarians complement arts programming with resources from the collection, encouraging deep and meaningful engagement, and broadening awareness of the varieties of artistic expression.

ASAP_Icon-Summer Camp

ASAP Summer Arts Camps

ASAP’s week-long free outdoor camps, launched in 2009, are designed to engage kids of all ages and interests while making the arts completely accessible. Camps take place in public parks and community centers in partnership with City of Des Moines Parks and Recreation, and welcome about 150 kids per day. Each camper enjoys 3 studio rotations per day, giving them opportunities to explore a wide variety of arts activities.


Starfish Academy

Since 2014, ASAP provides integrated arts instruction for this rigorous summer learning-loss prevention program for academically vulnerable students in grades 1–5. ASAP works closely with YMCA of Greater Des Moines and aligns arts learning with academic themes.


Summer Studio Arts Classes

ASAP tailors arts classes to fit summer school schedules in June and July at multiple public schools as well as partner organizations that serve children and families.


Outreach Programs

ASAP engages the broader community outside the studio at festivals and parades, family engagement nights at schools, and at events taking place in public spaces such as Gray’s Lake, the Science Center of Iowa, and the Civic Center.


ASAP Virtual Studio Classes

ASAP’s instructional videos, with accompanying supply kits and resources, were developed in 2020 to keep kids connected with the arts during the pandemic, when in-person programs were not allowed. Each 10-minute video yields an hour of creative work; each course includes multiple classes and projects, with 70 hours of available programming.

Because of ASAP…

“I’m the first person in my whole entire family to learn to play the piano.”

Because of ASAP…

“I’m the first person in my whole entire family to learn to play the piano.”

Kids playing keyboards


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Because of ASAP…

“I have made more friends than I have had in my entire life.”

Two girls laughing and high fiving wearing ASAP shirts
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