Arts for the City GalleryIndianapolis, IN
On June 8, the Harrison Center for the Arts and City Gallery unveiled their ArtPlace funding at the Independent Music + Arts Festival (IMAF), coordinated by one of our interns from Herron High School, a classical liberal arts charter high school started by the Harrison Center in 2006. Over 8000 community members gathered on this gorgeous Saturday in Indianapolis, while 12 independent bands played to a wildly enthusiastic audience, and 100+ local artisans (the INDIEana Handicraft Exchange) sold everything from clever Indianapolis T-shirts to homemade candy and hand-carved pipes. Grandparents danced with recently “home for the summer” college students, young businessmen and formerly homeless men feasted on local barbecue alongside families with children, and even the mayor came out to share in this huge celebration of neighborhood and community spearheaded by our local artists and musicians. IMAF was one of the Fox59 News segment “Do It Indy”’s recommended top five events of the week, and was also recommended in the Indianapolis Downtown Artists and Dealers Association newsletter, and reviewed in NUVO, the popular Indianapolis alternative newspaper.
This month, we also welcomed our first brand ambassador, Paul Smallman, a singer-songwriter from Baltimore, Maryland, who is building a repository of music about our target neighborhood, King Park. Paul has written five place-based songs since his arrival. As he bikes around the neighborhood or tours this corner of our city with some of its long-term residents, he is seeking how to tell the “aural” story of this neighborhood. Paul, who hopes this will be “a summer of exploration for me, but for the larger Indianapolis community as well,” writes, “I began to imagine the bustling area of business that King Park once was. In ‘Riding Down the Line’, I tried to balance the apparent emptiness of King Park now, compared to its past, while ultimately looking forward to a future of possibilities. ‘Good Health’ presents a similar tension, but is more of a personal critique of my own lack of motivation to find the community that exists below the surface, that isn’t necessarily seen right away. I thought about the things that the boring and selfish side of me might look for in a neighborhood and then set that against what may be a better definition of being in ‘good health’.” Central Indiana’s online cultural magazine, Sky Blue Window, reviewed this project this week in this post on their website.
One of the values of the Harrison Center and the City Gallery is finding cultural solutions to community opportunities. We have leveraged our arts programming and neighborhood partnerships throughout the city, but are now focusing on the blighted King Park area near our center. Through both IMAF and our singer-songwriter fellowship, we are adding to our strategic portfolio to help build a new, creative and celebrated identity for this neighborhood.
1. A highly successful IMAF and INDIEana Handicraft Exchange coordinated by one of our high school interns (featured in a great Sky Blue Window interview) brought over 8000 community members to the King Park neighborhood and received lots of positive city-wide press.
2. Our singer-songwriter fellow is delving into the King Park neighborhood and has written 4 neighborhood specific songs that are also receiving positive press.
3. The City Gallery had over 200 contacts this month with people interested in moving to this neighborhood.
4. 5 paintings were sold from “Dream Boats,” our place-based City Gallery show featuring buildings in the King Park neighborhood ($3550 sales at opening). Every other gallery in the building had sales and the INDIEana Handicraft Exchange generated thousands of dollars in income for local artisans.
So much of creative place-making in the last decade has focused on visual and performance art. Can music be equally effective in nurturing a sense of place? Can music be an alternative way to articulate a community brand and identity?