The Des Moines Social Club board today confirmed that the 10-year-old arts and entertainment center is losing money and is looking to adjust its offerings. 

A statement offered by board Chairman Mac Stanfield, who did not return a phone call, said despite a “respectable” increase in funding last year, efforts to fully fund the operation have fallen short.

“Even though 2018 saw respectable increases in revenues, the Club find increasing operating costs continuing to outpace income,” the board statement said. Several other board members referred calls to Stanfield.

Executive Director Chuck Current resigned voluntarily in May. Now, former board member Neil Salowitz and current board member John McGowan are running the organization while the board considers options.

Stanfield, Salowitz and McGowan “are leading a detailed examination of all aspects of the Club’s current business model and operations,” the statement said. 

The organization has seen significant changes in its board membership and leadership since co-founder and former New Yorker Zack Mannheimer persuaded Greater Des Moines leaders to support the center as a way to reach out in particular to young people pondering whether to move to, or stay in, Des Moines. The club, originally a theater operation, has staged everything from professional wrestling to live music events and food truck gatherings, and is home to the popular Malo restaurant. 

The very diversity of the offerings has made the Club hard to define and a tough sell to some investors, supporters have said privately. 

Rumors of financial trouble have swirled for a couple of years, as Mannheimer moved on to other pursuits, and onetime director Pete De Kock also left, after a year and a half, eventually becoming assistant city manager in Clive. 

The board statement did not say if various program offerings would change.

De Kock’s LinkedIn page says the Club had a $1.5 million annual budget, 19 full- and part-time staff members and 250,000 annual visitors while he was there from 2015 to 2017.

Federal records show the club lost $255,136 in 2016 and $395,329 in 2017.

Though the club already has been making the rounds for support, the board statement closed: “We are also reaching out to key community partners to help the Club set a more sustainable course for the future.” 


Here is the full text of the board’s statement, dated Monday. 

June 10, 2019
“Ten years ago, the founders of the Des Moines Social Club embarked on a mission to use the arts as a catalyst to create unprecedented community engagement. We remain committed to that
mission and this organization. 

“Unfortunately, the current funding model has not sustained the Club’s efforts. Even though 2018 saw respectable increases in revenues, the Club finds increasing operating costs continuing to outpace income. 

“In May of this year, the Executive Director voluntarily resigned his position. Neil Salowitz, a former board member, and John McGowan, a current board member, have volunteered to handle the day-to-day executive director tasks on an interim basis. Mac Stanfield, chair of the DMSC Board of Directors, John, and Neil are leading a detailed examination of all aspects of the Club’s current business model and operations. We are also reaching out to key community partners to help the Club set a more sustainable course for the future.”

Board of Directors 

Executive Committee
Mac Stanfield, president; Geremy Woods, vice president; Amie Lovell, secretary; Jackie Quinn, treasurer; Ryan Crane, at-large; Travis Schipper, at-large; Murray Williams, past president

Board Members
Judy Balsman, Kenia Calderon, Brandon Clark, Elizabeth Conzo, Dan Downs, Darren Jirsa, Sid Juwarker, Karen Karr, Jayme Mau, John McGowan, Mandy McWherter, Cassandra Pudenz, Claudia Schabel, Sam Schone, Jason Walsmith, Rachel Woodhouse