Local organizations get major grants from Lilly Endowment

A major grant initiative by Lilly Endowment promises to boost the arts and cultural initiatives of 17 organizations – with the Near Eastside and the Garfield Park areas among the prime recipients.

Lilly Endowment officials revealed the results of its Strengthening Indianapolis Through Arts and Cultural Innovation initiative on Dec. 5. The effort will put $49 million in the hands of grassroots organizations. Chief among the awards are:

— $4.3 million to the John Boner Neighborhood Centers to implement arts-based economic development strategies along a one-mile corridor of East 10th Street, now called the 10 East Art + Design District.

— $3 million to Big Car, for the Cruft Street Commons redevelopment project which aims to address challenges artists face finding affordable, long-term spaces in which to live, work and showcase their art.

— $7.7 million, about equally divided between Downtown Indy, Inc., and the Indiana War Memorials Foundation, for Shining a Light on Indianapolis, a project to activate the Soldiers & Sailors Monument by installing enhanced lighting and projection capabilities, a state-of-the-art sound system and flexible staging.

The largest of the 17 grants takes a major step toward a long-standing Downtown Indy project to make better use of Monument Circle. The amenities will enable a variety of interactive event experiences that help the Circle be a vibrant gathering place and public amphitheater, Lilly Endowment officials said.

Programming will include seasonally themed experiences, light shows synchronized with Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra performances and patriotic salutes that honor Indiana history.

Other grants included:

— $2.1 million to the Harrison Center for Convertible, a project which aims to lower barriers to the arts by transforming the Harrison Center and its programs to more broadly accommodate community needs.

— $553,561 to the Indianapolis Neighborhood Resource Center for a Creative Placemaking Training Program

— $49,000 to Indy Fringe for Fringe on Wheels

— $674,520 to Keep Indianapolis Beautiful for Indy Art & Seek, a public art initiative to feature more than 100 installations of engaging and accessible public art in urban streets and greenspaces throughout Indianapolis.

Here’s more information on the various projects in the Urban Times coverage zone:

Cruft Street Commons – Big Car and its partners will create affordable facilities for housing, work and retail, repurpose a 40,000 square-foot factory for studio and cultural space, complete a public outdoor greenspace and foster social cohesion through community-engaged art strategies. Collaborators: Bean Creek Neighborhood Association, Central Indiana Community Foundation, Garfield Park Neighborhood Association, Indiana University, Indianapolis Neighborhood Housing Partnership, Learning Tree and Riley Area Development Corp.

Convertible – Elements of the Harrison Center project include a rooftop outdoor kitchen with LED tetherball and a karaoke elevator that provides access for people with disabilities to all areas of the building. Harrison Center will also start an (Ad)venture Fund to provide small grants to artists and neighbors with ideas to lower barriers to the arts. Collaborators: ArtMix and Redeemer Presbyterian Church.

Creative Placemaking Neighborhood Training Program – INRC aims to help 30 Indianapolis neighborhoods plan and implement a broad array of creative placemaking projects. The program will provide robust and intentional training, discussions and guidance on implementing locally relevant arts and cultural projects. Participating neighborhoods will receive technical assistance and seed funding to develop their ideas. Collaborator: Harrison Center for the Arts.

Fringe on Wheels – The IndyFringe project aims to provide access to a variety of arts and cultural offerings for people of all ages. IndyFringe will hold an open art competition to design the look of the Fringe on Wheels. The vehicle will be used for travelling theater classes, performance art, film screenings and live events in Marion County and across Indiana, including under-resourced neighborhoods and rural areas. Collaborators: Indiana Humanities, Learning Tree, Storytelling Arts of Indiana and WFYI.

10 East Art & Design District – The Boner Center initiative aims to implement arts-based economic development strategies to develop a one-mile corridor of East 10th Street. The project includes three interconnected components: 1) reclaiming vacant properties on 10th Street for creative reuse; 2) transforming underutilized public places into vibrant spaces; and 3) increasing neighborhood arts programming. Collaborators: Arts Council of Indianapolis, Cat Head Press, Englewood Community Development Corporation, Indianapolis Museum of Contemporary Art, Indianapolis Neighborhood Housing Partnership, Near East Area Renewal, People for Urban Progress, Project One Studio.

Indy Art & Seek – The KIB project will be a mini-adventure with six large-scale installations and 100 smaller “interventions” designed to change perceptions of spaces and add joy to residents’ lives. An interactive map and mobile application will guide people through the experience, which will prioritize locations that are currently without a nearby public art installation. Collaborator: Arts Council of Indianapolis

Lilly Endowment officials said they received so many creative and promising proposals that it was decided to nearly double the amount of money dedicated to the initiative. A total of $48.9 million in grants will support the projects.

“We were impressed not just by the number of proposals we received but also by the applicants’ collaborative spirit, imagination and energetic desire to make Indianapolis a more vibrant and engaging community,” said Rob Smith, the Endowment’s vice president for community development. “We believe that the projects funded through this initiative will significantly enhance the quality of life for residents and create compelling new experiences for visitors.”

The projects receiving funding will begin to take shape in 2019.

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