City Gallery

Harrison Center for the Arts

Funding Received: 2013
Indianapolis, IN
Funding Period: 1 year and 5 months
August 7, 2013


On June 22, the King Park Area Development Corporation convened the first neighborhood visioning summit in order to begin developing a greater neighborhood Quality of Life Plan. This plan will offer all neighbors an opportunity to create a shared vision of a better neighborhood. Our singer/songwriter intern, Paul Smallman, funded by ArtPlace, performed seven songs he wrote to celebrate this neighborhood. Later, local gathering spot Foundry Provisions hosted an evening concert for Smallman, who was also featured this month in the Indianapolis Star.

Our high school interns have been working with another Harrison Center college intern on a “Neighborhood Ballad Project.” Three spoken-word ballads, the first of which was also performed at the summit, celebrate the lives and local neighborhood legacies of President Benjamin Harrison, Robert Kennedy, and Oliver P. Morton.

On June 29, the City Gallery hosted a site specific neighborhood performance piece, “Everyday in the Park” in Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Park, the empty and underused center of this neighborhood. One of our cultural entrepreneur interns organized this event “to fill the park with people to show what a thriving, safe, and fun place King Park can be any day.” We enlisted the help of over 180 volunteers who biked and walked to seed the event and lead games, picnic, walk their dogs, and play sports. We also installed a one day Gallery in the Trees, a solo show of works on paper by Eric Walton, hung throughout the park. These pieces were donated by the artist to people who liked them or couldn’t afford to buy original art. This site specific work served as a “living charette,” showing what we dream an activated community park could look like.

Since 2007, the Harrison Center has partnered with Herron High School to provide a rich, art integrated Summer Academe for students from 28 local school districts. 421 students participated in Summer Academe’s first session this month. Students took neighborhood walking tours, visited cultural sites and carried out neighborhood service projects while earning academic credit for coursework through Herron High School.

On July 5, over 1600 people attended “FoodCon,” an unconventional convention for art and food. This large event was organized by a 16 year old intern who is a budding cultural entrepreneur. Our four galleries supported the foodie theme and 24 neighbors had interactive, sensory-rich displays sharing how they access healthy food in an urban context. Goats and chickens were side by side with in-home aquaponic systems, hydroponic growing systems and an egg delivery service. The week of the event, feature articles appeared in the Indianapolis Star, NUVO, and Skyblue Window.

Recent Wins

1. Harrison Center received funding of over $125,000 from organizations and individuals, all of whom are encouraging us in our creative placemaking work.

2. After the local press lauded our ArtPlace funded singer-songwriter fellowship, we were contacted by a Grammy-nominated musician who wants to support our creative placemaking efforts in music. Belmont College in Nashville, TN, also contacted us, hoping to bring a team of singer-songwriters and producers to study and participate in our music based placemaking efforts next spring.

3. Successful completion of Summer Academe’s first session with attendance of 421, exceeding our goal of 350. This program is a partnership we have with Herron High School, a public charter school we created in 2006 to grow a new generation of place based art patrons. National rankings came out in June placing Herron High School in the top 5% of high schools nationwide (The Washington Post, U.S. News and World Report and Newsweek).

4. Food Con brought a crowd to the Harrison Center that loves nature, good health, and eating local. In a creative way, they were shown how they could have all those things they love and live in this neighborhood. We believe that to bring vibrancy to an area, you have to show vibrant people that your neighborhood has what they want. Food Con did that.


Our “Every Day in the Park” was incredibly successful in activating a space. It required thought and planning, but few physical resources. We brought over 180 volunteers to simply use what was already there. One couple who came, walking their dog, only live three blocks away from the 14 acre park, but did not know it existed. When they saw what was happening, they went home and got several of their neighbors to bring their dogs down, too. What other spaces around us just need the “living charette” of people there doing the normal things people usually do (but for some reason aren’t doing in that particular place)?