Friday, February 27, 2009

Roberts: Top 5 Marvin Moments

Posted By on Fri, Feb 27, 2009 at 4:00 AM

Marvin Harrison concludes his Colts career with 38 million catches, 96,000 touchdowns, and one third of an end-zone dance.

He was the NFL anti-hero, and Indiana loved him for it.

After hearing the news of his departure, I was mildly surprised, but not all-together heartbroken for our Colts. He has been involved in some shady dealings as of late, contrary to his iron man image that lasted a decade. And he and Peyton have been losing their deadly telepathy since 2006, amid the muck of bursa sacs and overthrown post-patterns.

So even though I'm glad to see him leave before he gets benched, comes to blows with Peyton, or fumbles away any more playoff games, Indianapolis will miss him, and he is one of the most important athletes in the city's history. In the NFL, and at his position in particular, most athletes would have responded to such consistent disappointment in a small-market city by publicly pissing themselves and demanding a trade or forty billion dollars. But he is the Colts version of Reggie Miller; a landlocked winner that never succumbed to the albatross of coastal pseudo-stardom.

There are five Marvin Moments that will live forever in Indianapolis sports lore, and none of them involve sharpie markers, middle fingers, or game-winning Hail Mary catches. Because we already know that Harrison is professional, acrobatic, and uncannily amazing in his ability to just get open. Those things are understood, and go without saying in any bar-talk reminiscing of his glory days.

But here is what we'll really remember; the validating anecdotes of his distinction as an Indiana legend.

1. 2003 AFC Divisional Playoffs: Harrison catches a routine slant route, falling to the ground as he cradles the catch. As Denver's delinquent DB Deltha O'Neal helplessly cries at the secondary for their blown coverage, Marvin nonchalantly hops up and takes off for a leisurely stroll into the end zone. My brother and I nearly pissed our pants, as we laughed and cheered hysterically from the upper deck. I was so elated I even high-fived the grizzled and portly drunkard next to me, who had accused me six minutes earlier of taking his seat. I can still smell the booze and sweaty flannel. It was the only NFL playoff game I ever got to go to, and the Colts won something like 640-3. Peyton dropped bomb after bomb in the first half, then let Sorgi come out onto the track with a pistol for a mercy-killing.

2. 2003 Monday Night Football, Colts vs. Bucs: It was Dungy's first game against his former team, and in the week leading up, Keyshawn Johnson arrogantly jawed that Harrison was overrated, and inferior to himself as a receiver. The first half was miserable and embarrassing, and Keyshawn continued his mouthy blabbering into the locker room. But in the second half, Marvin came out and cut the Bucs secondary to ribbons, en route to the biggest NFL comeback of all time. The Colts eventually won in overtime on a controversial Vanderjerk field goal, as Keyshawn and Warren Sapp had a tearful make-out session. This was the first time an NFL ever came back after being down by 21 points with less than four minutes.

3. 2004 AFC Divisional Playoff: The Colts are hosting Denver again, and again the Broncos secondary has to start running their mouths in the week leading up. Professional meathead John Lynch called the Colts receiving corps "soft," said they were afraid to take hits or to block - that they are a "finesse" team. Big words from a team that gave up 5 touchdowns in the first half to Manning, one year prior. But 2004 was a new year for the Broncos.

They only gave up four. The most satisfying of which came in the first quarter, as Reggie Wayne streaked past the entire defense, and Lynch, sucking wind and trotting after him like a fat kid chasing an Ice Cream truck….was crushed by the "soft" Marvin Harrison, who threw his body at him horizontal, while Reggie Lindy-Hopped his way into the end-zone.

4. 2005 Monday Night Football, Colts vs. Rams: Harrison and Manning broke the record for most career TD's by a QB-WR combo. As they trotted off the field, they played hot potato with the football, each of them gracefully denying credit for the feat.

5. 2006 Sunday Night Football, Colts vs. Patriots: I remember seeing this play, and thinking that there is no way in hell it's going to stand-up to review. Harrison ran a post route on a game-swinging play, and the pass was thrown behind him. With Ellis Hobbs trying to pull his right arm off, he flipped the ball up by his fingernail, spun, secured the ball, and dragged his tippy toes in bounds. It is the greatest catch I've ever seen. Hobbs stared blankly for a moment in disbelief, then made a half-hearted plea to the official. Following the equally perplexed official's confirmation of the TD, Harrison stood up and fired a victory spike right into the face of a sour Patriot. Hyperbole aside, probably the best moment of my entire life.

It was during the absolute worst of the Colts' annual ass-kicking they received at the hands of the Patriots. But on that night in Foxboro, the tone of Indianapolis football changed, and the Colts went on to win the Superbowl that same season.

Harrison was a symbolic turning point for Colts football. Fans complain about the bitter disappointment we've come to fear each January, and some years - especially recently - he has been deserving of his fair share in the weight of that heartache. But it was because of him and Peyton, neither of whom would have been half as good without the other, that we were in the playoffs to begin with. Now spoiled by annual AFC dominance, Hoosiers forget that in the 90's we were a Detroit Lions doppelganger.

Harrison played for three head coaches and was on the Colts for 12 years; almost exactly half the time the Colts have been a franchise, and for all that time, as #88 has gone, so have gone the Colts; our better days-- our escape from Jeff George and Anthony Johnson and 1-15-- began with him. Indianapolis has always had a penchant for second-half teams. And in that, even with his tired legs of 2008, we were better with him than we are without him.

(But we might be a little better without his $13 million against the cap).

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Thursday, February 26, 2009

Arts: Meet artist Fred Wilson

Posted By on Thu, Feb 26, 2009 at 4:00 AM

You're Invited to Meet Fred Wilson This Wednesday

The Indianapolis Cultural Trail is hosting an open public meeting with Fred Wilson, a world-renowned New York-based artist who has been identified as an artist for a future public art installation on the Cultural Trail. At the meeting, this Wed., Feb. 25, 6 p.m. at the Madame Walker Theatre, Fred will introduce himself and his work and engage the audience in an open dialogue about this potential project.

Fred Wilson is a conceptual artist whose artistic practice has focused on the re-contextualization of existing art objects and collectibles and the representation of history from the perspective of people of color. His creative process incorporates his own research, outreach, and exploration in the cities in which he creates projects. His final installations often make viewers aware of histories or stories that are not being told or talked about.

While already an accomplished artist, his watershed project entitled "Mining the Museum: An Installation by Fred Wilson" mounted at The Maryland Historical Society in Baltimore in 1992-1993 catapulted him and his work into the consciousness of a much broader audience. In 1993 he produced a project at our own Indianapolis Museum of Art entitled The Spiral of Art History. Wilson's creations have been included in numerous other solo and group exhibitions around the globe, including his selection to represent the United States in 2003 at the Venice Biennale in Venice, Italy. He has received several significant awards and professional recognitions including the prestigious Genius award from the MacArthur Foundation (1999).

Please contact the Arts Council of Indianapolis with questions or for more information: 317.631.3301 or publicart@indyarts.org.

For more information on Fred Wilson, visit:

http://www.pbs.org/art21/artists/wilson/index.html

http://renabranstengallery.com/WilsonF.html

http://nymag.com/nymetro/arts/features/n_9014/

http://findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_m1248/is_n10_v81/ai_14603011

http://www.crownpoint.com/artists/wilson/about.html

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Arts: Writers' Center Update

Posted By on Thu, Feb 26, 2009 at 4:00 AM

This just in from Barbara Shoup of the Writers' Center concerning their recent funding struggles...

"Two very simple rules:

A. You don't have to write.

B. You can't do anything else

The rest comes of itself."

Raymond Chandler

Dear Members and Friends of the Writers' Center of Indiana:

Thanks to so many of you for your overwhelmingly positive response to the news of our recent financial struggles and for your offers to help. The response from the community has been positive, as well. Over the several months, I've talked with numerous people the possibility of collaborating in a variety of ways as we move forward. The Indianapolis Art Center has very generously agreed to allow us to maintain our office and to use the classroom space on a limited basis for the next several months.

I am delighted to report that our Board of Directors has approved the following plan, which allows us to continue to foster some of our core programs, as well as introduce a few new ones.

Writing classes. Visit www.indianawriters.org to see the newly scheduled classes for spring. Note that the cost to members has been reduced from $12.50 per class hour to $10 per class hour, while the cost to nonmembers remains at $15 per hour. Teachers, students with a valid ID and senior citizens (60 and over) may take classes for half the nonmember price.

Evening with the Muse, a free program with featured poets and an open mic will continue to meet at 7 p.m. on the second Sunday of each month in the Writers' Center space.

The Gathering of Writers. The Gathering of Writers will be held on Saturday, November 9, 2009 at the Indianapolis Art Center. Alice Friman, award-winning poet and a founder of the WCI will give the keynote address. For those of you who don't already know what a fabulous poet, teacher, and person Alice is, check out www.alicefriman.com to see why I'm so excited that she agreed to come.

"Be a Better Writer" a new series of craft lectures is made possible by the Allen Whitehill Clowes Foundation. Inc, begins on at 7 p.m. on Monday, April 20 with a lecture by prose poet David Shumate. Visit www.indianawriters.org for details about this program and information about upcoming lectures.

The Writers' Center now has a Facebook page. If you haven't received an invitation to be a friend of the WC yet, visit www.facebook.com, search "The Writers' Center of Indiana" and "friend" us. You can be sure we'll confirm you!

Website We have begun work to make our website more user-friendly and to provide new options, including content about writing and publishing, Frequently Asked Questions, and opportunities for members to connect online in a variety of ways. Watch for the first changes in late spring or early summer.

That said, I think most of us relate to Chandler's two rules about writing. I'd adjust his conclusion to read, "The rest sort of comes of itself. " As we pursue this crazy compulsion to write, the world does offer up unexpected blessings and opportunities. Discovering the Writers' Center of Indiana was the most important of these for me; it opened in 1979, just when I gathered up the courage to try to write. Without it, I'm not at all sure I'd have figured out how to begin. But my unexpected blessing happen because Jim Powell, the founder of the Writers' Center, was out there making it happen and kept making it happen for years, often under the most difficult circumstances.

The leadership of the Writers' Center has pledged energy, time and talents to keep the Center alive and to continue to provide programs to enhance your writing life. But we will need your help. If you are a member, please renew your membership today. To those of you who aren't members, please consider joining our community now. For information, visit our website at www.indianawriters.org and to see our Spring classes visit http://www.indianawriters.org/main.asp?SectionID=15&TM=30649.32.

We'll keep you up to date on our progress in occasional E-blasts. Please feel free to call (317-255-0710) or e-mail (mail@indianawriters.org) if you have questions, and I'll do my best to answer them.

Please play your part in supporting the Center so that it can continue to be a beacon for those who want and need writing to be a part of their lives.

Barbara Shoup

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News: "Waltz with Bashir" screening/discussion

Posted By on Thu, Feb 26, 2009 at 4:00 AM

Landmark Theatres hosts a screening and discussion of the 2008 Israeli animated documentary film "Waltz with Bashir" next Wednesday, March 4.

Written and directed by Ari Folman, the academy award nominated film documents the attempts of Folman, a 1982 Lebanon War-veteran, to recover his lost memories of the events revolving around the Sabra and Shatila massacre.

The film begins at 7p.m. The discussion that follows will feature panelists Pierre Atlas, Assistant Professor and Director of Richard G. Lugar Franciscan Center for Global Studies at Marian College; John Clark, Senior Fellow at Sagamore Institute for Policy Research; Bill Foley, Adjunct Professor at Marian College and winner of the Pulitzer Prize for a series of photographs he captured during the Israeli-Lebanese War; and Siobhan McEvoy-Levy-Associate Professor and Director of Peace Studies at Butler University.

The International Interfaith Alliance is sponsoring the event. For more information contact Charlie Wiles cwiles@peacelearningcenter.org.

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Arts: New "Indiana Authors Award" announced

Posted By on Thu, Feb 26, 2009 at 4:00 AM

This just in from the IMCPL Foundation...

Library Foundation and The Glick Fund to Showcase

Indiana Authors with Inaugural Award

Nominations Now Being Accepted for "Indiana Authors Award"

INDIANAPOLIS --- Nominations for the inaugural Eugene and Marilyn Glick Indiana Authors Award are now being accepted by the Indianapolis-Marion County Public Library Foundation through April 8, 2009. This award seeks to recognize the contributions of Indiana authors to the literary landscape in Indiana and across the nation, and is funded by the generosity of The Glick Fund, a fund of Central Indiana Community Foundation.

From start to finish, the Indiana Authors Award will invite participation from people around the state beginning with the nomination process. Participation will then continue throughout the year with outreach to organizations serving readers and writers, an interactive Web site, public programs and more.

Nomination forms are available from now through April 8 at www.indianaauthorsaward.org. Complete information and eligibility guidelines are included on the nomination forms.

Any published writer who was born in Indiana or has lived in Indiana for at least five years is eligible for nomination. A seven-member, statewide Award Panel will select winners in three categories from the pool of publicly nominated authors:

· National Author - $10,000 prize: a writer with Indiana ties, but whose work is known and read throughout the country. National authors will be evaluated on their entire body of work.

· Regional Author - $7,500 prize: A writer who is well-known and respected throughout the state of Indiana. Regional authors will be evaluated on their entire body of work.

· Emerging Author - $5,000 prize: A writer with only one published book. Emerging authors will be evaluated on their single published work.

In addition to a cash prize, each author's Indiana hometown public library will receive a grant of $2,500 from the Library Foundation.

"This is a one-of-a-kind program that honors Indiana's proud literary heritage," said David Barrett, president and CEO of the Eugene and Marilyn Glick Family Foundation and advisor to The Glick Fund. "We're thrilled to be working with the Library Foundation, and we believe that this program will serve to enrich the state's cultural fabric for many years to come."

"Indiana has a rich tradition in cultivating talented authors," said Indiana Governor Mitch Daniels. "I commend the Glick family and the Indianapolis-Marion County Public Library Foundation for showcasing and celebrating Indiana authors and I call upon all Hoosiers to join me in participating in the nomination process."

Award finalists will be honored on September 26, 2009 at the Central Library in downtown Indianapolis. The day's events will include free public programming such as author lectures, "how to get published" workshops for aspiring writers, and more. An award dinner/fund raiser benefiting the Library Foundation will follow that evening to support Library programs and services. Ticket information for the award dinner is available by contacting the Library Foundation at (317) 275-4700.

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Monday, February 23, 2009

NUmedia: TIME Magazine's First Annual Blog Index

Posted By on Mon, Feb 23, 2009 at 4:00 AM

TIME Magazine has published their First Annual Blog Index. Typically, I would argue that "Top Blogs" from TIME Magazine would be similar to Danica Patrick's Oscar picks- that is, kind of interesting to look at but not really pertinent. However the writer tapped to do the job, Tom McNichol, is a man of much talent and a broad swath of interests. He's written for Business 2.0, the Huffington Post, and The New York Times. He's displayed a certain amount of web acumen, so to speak, and I think offered some great (and some obvious) suggestions.

I offered a quick list of my favorite blogs on marketing, advertising, and the like earlier this month. Their list is politically top heavy, but then so is the internet. Here's a few quick takes on some others on my radar:

Metafilter : Seems to be anything but. With so many niche sites, experts, and direct-to-the-source outlets availble, what's the usefulness of a clearinghouse? This is a time killer- which means it's for people with time to kill.

treehugger : Great site that balances a serious mission with a sense of humor. You'll see occasional celeb-written posts and tips that can actually improve your day to day life while decreasing your carbon footprint.

PostSecret : Innovative, appalling, touching and tragic all at once. Folks mail in handwritten postcards with an anonymous confession. The cards are then scanned and posted to the site with no editorializing. Fears, infidelities, career mishaps... Humanity digitized.

Freakonomics : A part of the New York Times and written by the same duo who offered the best selling book of the same name. Dynamic, contrarian, and skillfully balancing entertainment with education.

Gawker : It's not for me. I have my guilty pleasures, don't get me wrong. And many in the social media biz have reaped benefits of being "caught" there. (See: Pete Cashmore of Mashable) But I feel it too often crosses from snark to vitriol and I don't care for that. If you do, Gawk away.

Wired's Threat Level : Former international hacker + Wired editors + Post 9/11 privacy issues = consitently great read + some sleeplessness

I tend to like what McNichol produces, but calling out Jim Cramer (accurately) as "Overrated" does not nearly make up for the exclusion of Seth Godin's Blog.

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Sunday, February 22, 2009

Mike Beas: College GameDay

Posted By on Sun, Feb 22, 2009 at 4:00 AM

This country must shoulder the blame for some of the worst inventions in history. Fraternity members include pop-up ads, three-ply toilet paper and Falstaff. Another is the concept of movie sequels. Porky's II should have taught us that.

Which brings us to College GameDay, which ESPN swats weekly tape-measure home runs with during football season. GameDay is the 21st-century version of what the Goodyear Blimp used to be — verification that that particular game is among the biggest of the big that weekend. Millions watch, hundreds if not thousands gather in person to form a noisy backdrop. Onetime Indiana University coach Lee Corso is DeNiro-esque in his ability to play the role of lovable buffoon.

Then a few years ago some network suit raised his or her hand in a meeting to suggest trying the GameDay format for basketball.

Bad idea. Really, really bad. But the network did it anyway.

The entire thing is so staged. Honestly, it looks like every week a few hundred fans from the campus of choice have been dragged to the gym kicking and screaming so that it resembles what's done in the fall. Who are these students, the sub-2.0 GPA crowd told extra credit awaited them if they spent some time seated a few rows behind Rece Davis, Jay Bilas, Hubert Davis and Digger Phelps?

Perhaps they are trained professionals. You know, traveling fans. Look close. It might be the same 500-1,000 faces at Gonzaga one week that you spotted three weeks earlier at, say, Connecticut or Kentucky.

That would make for some interesting catching-up-with dialouge, that's for sure.

"Hey, Jim, great to see you. Are you still working in advertising?"

"Nope. Switched careers. The wife and I are professional fans for the basketball College GameDay set. Even have a stack of 8x10s in the car if you want me to autograph one for you. I'll be that little face on the far left in the fifth row. Even got to talk to Bilas once during a commercial break. How many people will be able to tell their grandchildren a story like that?"

It will be interesting to see how long the network continues to embrace this idea. The ratings have to be abysmal, though it did get one thing right: using Phelps, the former Notre Dame coach, as the dorky fall guy in commercials. Must be an Indiana thing.

In both cases, it's quality casting.

PARTING SHOT: Purdue's men's basketball program has once again let me down, and it's not even March.

Last week's long-awaited unveiling of new home and road uniforms didn't come close to matching the hype that had preceded it. There are changes, sure, but they are subtle.

Just once I would like to see the Boilers shake things up and roll out some cutting-edge unis that would have fans throughout the country sitting up and taking notice. Instead, it's another chapter in the book of conservative sure to last three or four seasons before Purdue tries another look.

Equally conservative, of course.

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Friday, February 20, 2009

Entertainment: Comedy benefit for veterans

Posted By on Fri, Feb 20, 2009 at 4:00 AM

We just received word about a great comedy show tomorrow night that serves as a benefit for the Indianapolis Veterans Hospital.

In cooperation with the Indianapolis Veterans Hospital, local stand-up comedians will present a stand-up comedy show at the Domicilliary, in the Triangle Building in the multi purpose rom at 25 N. Penn. in Indpls this Saturday, Feb. 21st at 7:00 PM.

About 40 homeless veterans are housed in the facility and are being helped in many ways to get back on their feet, according to psychologist Laura Otis-Jones, who heads up the program. (Call her at (317) 988-1651 to learn more about the program).

The comedians set to present their act in a 45-minute program are Jim Lanctot, Army veteran, Carl Kakasuleff, former Army reservist and Daniel Paul Majors of Terre Haute, a veteran of the first Gulf War and currently serving in the Indiana Air National Guard. All appear at Open Mike at Crackers in Broad Ripple and other venues.

Comedians Lanctot, Kakasuleff, along with Otto the Comic will also present a second show for patients of the VA on St. Patricks Day, March 17th as part of a festivities, starting at 11:30 A.M. That show is the Day Room, 8th floor on the VA Hospital, 1481 W. 10th Street. Lisa Sisson of Volunteer Services has more info on the event. Her number is 317-988-2734.

The comedians, including others, previously presented a show for troops and their families at Camp Atterbury, on October 23rd that was sponsored by the USO.

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Entertainment: IMPD returns in "The Shift"

Posted By on Fri, Feb 20, 2009 at 4:00 AM

Thanks to high ratings, the Investigation Discovery channel will be rerunning the first season of "The Shift", its reality show about Indianapolis homicide detectives. Reruns of the show are being put back on the Sunday night schedule beginning at 10 p.m. March 1.

Discovery reports that the reality show concluded its first season on a ratings high. The finale on Sunday, Feb. 15, was the highest-rated program in the channel's history among all households and viewers ages 25-54. "The Shift" began Dec. 21, 2008, and averaged 321,000 viewers.

Read Marc Allan's recent NUVO article on "The Shift" at

http://www.nuvo.net/entertainment/article/impd-stars-shift

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Hoppe on the Arts: Oscar Time!

Posted By on Fri, Feb 20, 2009 at 4:00 AM

I've been watching the Oscars, America's annual glamfest, ever since I was a pup. I know it was a supposedly simpler time, but when I was first introduced to what, in those days, was not the red, but the black and white carpet, I recognized few of the stars and and was lucky to have seen one or two of the nominees for Best Picture.

For some reason, those things didn't matter. Even at so great a distance, I could still revel vicariously in the conspicuous displays of showbiz bonhomie. It didn't hurt that I got to stay up late. And Bob Hope. Bob Hope, with his constant carping about never having won anything, was great. They're still trying to figure out how to replace him.

As I got older and a little more jaded, I still dug the Oscars -- it felt like a front row seat at the world's coolest convention, or employee appreciation night.

Maybe it's a throwback to my staying-up-late youth, but I've never understood the people who complain every year about the show running late. Nor, for that matter, about the long-winded acceptance speeches. This is what it's all about. The self-serving litanies of agents' and bankers' names are obnoxious, of course, but hey, it's a free country and self-absorbed celebrity maunderings are the price we pay for the occasional, genuinely moving speech an artist makes. Indeed, one of the spontaneous pleasures of the Oscars are those rare incidents where, through how he or she reacts to the news that an Oscar is coming their way, a star is revealed as -- yes! -- an artist at heart.

I guess what I'm suggesting here is that I've never bought into the idea that the Oscar ceremony is first and foremost a TV event. That's because it has seemed to me that the greatest Oscar moments are the unguarded bits -- those moments that TV producers try hard to scrub out of the picture.

So I'm approaching this year's event with more than a little trepidation. Oscar ratings were the worst they've been in years in 2008. They weren't so hot the year before that. The production team responsible for producing this year's shindig has promised a new look and, more, a new experience. An experience, incidentally, that sounds a lot like the recent Screen Actor's Guild Awards, where everyone sat at supper club style tables and, after a fashion established by yet another awards show, the Golden Globes, were encouraged to quaff from an endless supply of champagne in the hopes that someone might do something "colorful."

We're not even being told who will be presenting awards this year, although last year's major honorees are bound to be involved -- as they always have been. Tradition demands it. Maybe.

Every year we're presented with a new set, a different approach to hosting, and handing over the statuary. People argue over the music and dance numbers as if there's any way for them to look anything but ridiculous. Nothing ever really works.

Unless, of course, the show happens to be a smorgasbord of stars, in which case everything turns out great.

Unfortunately, the number of actual stars available seems to be ever-diminishing. It's a melancholy fact that more and more Oscar viewers now say that the part of the show that moves them most is the obit passage, where images are shown of all those moviemakers who have died in the past year. This is where the Oscars seems like a cross between a family reunion and a wake.

This year they'll show us Paul Newman. I hope they take their sweet time.

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NUmedia: Guest Spot Warren Wilkinson of the ICVA

Posted By on Fri, Feb 20, 2009 at 4:00 AM

In January I wrote a post about the Indianapolis Convention and Visitors Association Annual Conference where they discussed at length the ICVA's new partnership with Young and Laramore as well as the initiative to rebrand our fair city. This topic interests me deeply- and on several different levels.

First, rebranding a city is an effort on a grand scale that will involve all of the principals that I so enjoy writing about: Establishing a new story for the city, finding the outlets where that story can be told, creating partnerships and working with media. Secondly, this effort effects the businesses of Indianapolis directly. Currently, the convention and tourism buisness injects billions in to our local economy every year. But perhaps most importantly- I love this city. I think it has a wonderful story to tell. And I know from regular visits to St. Louis, Chicago, Columbus, Louisville, and my hometown, Cincinnati, that the story needs desperately to be told. We are living in a world-class city and it deserves to be recognized as such. The concept presented- highlighting Indianapolis' "competitive spirit"- resonated with me immediately. I think that swagger and pride in what our city has to offer was just what was needed.

In an effort to "pull back the curtain" and share some of the philosophy and mechanics of what a major effort like this entails, I went directly to the source. I'm joined today by Warren Wilkinson, Sr. VP of Marketing and Communications for the ICVA.

Previously, Mr. Wilkinson served as the Vice President of Marketing and Corporate Communication for locally based Republic Airways Holdings. He came to the ICVA with 27 years of experience in corporate marketing and communications. In addition to his current role, Mr. Wilkinson serves on the board of the Indiana Repertory Theatre and the Purdue University Aviation and Technology Advisory Board.

NUmedia: I believe that this story (of the ICVA's renewed efforts) is one that every business owner in our community should be following closely. Tell us briefly the mission of the ICVA.

Wilkinson: The mission of the ICVA is to advance Indianapolis tourism and economic growth. Tourism is big business in Indianapolis. This industry supports over 66,000 jobs and generates over $3.56 billion in economic impact to the local economy. The tourism industry is a growth industry in central Indiana. $3.56 billion in economic impact is significant and generates significant tax revenue ($894 Million) for the city and state. The ICVA's ad campaign during the summer of 2008 generated over $185 million in spending in the local economy during the months of June, July and August. The jobs this industry creates are at all levels. The hotel development occurring in downtown Indianapolis will create hundreds of jobs. The visitors that will come to conventions and meetings in the expanded Indiana Convention Center will dine in our over 250 downtown restaurants and visit our numerous attractions across the city.

NUmedia: Warren, rebranding a city is a massive effort- one that requires a lot of time and a lot of resources. What were the reasons that the ICVA decided now was the time to reframe our city's story? And who were the stakeholders that were a part of that process?

Wilkinson: The reason for the rebranding effort is that our research shows that the current image of Indianapolis to our potential guests is "vanilla". Please note that our brand position is a conclusion we want people to draw. Our brand needs to be true and believable and grown from facts. Our brand position based on the competitive spirit found in our community is part of our DNA. It's what makes Indianapolis unique. As a community we are always trying to make our city better and more competitive. This is evidenced by the continual improvements you see in our city. For example, the airport, Lucas Oil Stadium, the expansion of the IMA, the new exhibits at the Indianapolis Zoo. The JW Marriott complex, The Indiana Convention Center Expansion, The IRT lobby expansion etc etc.

NUmedia: As a transplant to Indianapolis, I think I can understand "vanilla". It took me some time to realize just how much Indy has to offer. In fact, I caught a quote on the Urbanophile from CEO Don Welsh, shortly after he accepted the position: "Our product is better than our brand." This is clearly an effort to correct that. But were there any specific hurdles or perceived deficiencies that had to be directly addressed? And does the ICVA see our development efforts as our greatest strength for positioning ourselves against other regional cities like Chicago or Cincinnati?

Wilkinson: Indianapolis suffers from misperception. Don Welsh is exactly right. Our product is better than our brand. Our research from shows that Indianapolis does not have much of an impression at all. Hence the vanilla description. There is nothing wrong with vanilla but we need to leave a more memorable impression on our prospective guests. Once we get visitors to Indianapolis they repeatedly tell us they are surprised at the depth of the offerings and how pleased they were with the Indianapolis experience.

The significant development that has and is occurring is evidence to how Indianapolis is raising the game. We are constantly trying to make our city more competitive and better for our visitors and our residents. Additionally we have a wide variety of excellent arts and cultural offerings, we need to communicate this in a more positive and confident manner. While Indianapolis has a long and proud tradition of being a great sports town with a geat track record of hosting large competitions, we have a vibrant arts and cultural community who contribute to further "dimensionalizing" our great city.

NUmedia: You went through a relatively fast, but extremely competitive process to find your partner, Young & Laramore. In evaluating potential partners, what were the ICVA's priorities? What made this potential partnership unique?

Wilkinson: You are correct the process that we undertook to select an agency for the ICVA was very competitive and thorough. In the end, the advisory board that we formed to help in the selection of the agency to lead in the rebranding process determined that Young & Laramore best captured the direction we needed to take. During the process we looked at a lot of very talented local agencies but Y&L brings extensive experience in developing national brands. Their ideas on how to communicate the promise of Indianapolis were spot on.

NUmedia: Both government and public involvement dictate that the tourism industry remain readily quantifiable. What can you tell us about the expectations for this effort? What are the overall goals as well as specific metrics that you'll be reviewing?

Wilkinson: The ICVA is a metric driven organization. We will look at our ability to attract larger and more valuable convention business to our city as well an increase in the number of leisure travelers to our city. The effects of this branding initiative will be felt over the course of several years. As an organization and a community we need to speak more confidently on the merits of our city as a convention and leisure destination.

The ICVA individual departments each have metrics that are used to measure success. For the sales department the measurement is room nights. They are focused on filling the hotels and convention center with convention and group business which in turn fills restaurants and attractions. In 2008 the sales team booked over 684,000 room nights. For the Public Relations team they are focused on placing positive stories about Indianapolis and all of its offerings in regional and national print and online publications, TV and radio outlets as well industry trade publications. We measure tone and content, message delivery, as well as advertising value. Of course we also measure website traffic.

The ICVA also serves as a support team to the many city wide conventions that come to Indianapolis. This effort includes performing the housing or reservations for the city wide conventions that come to Indianapolis as well as fulfilling the website bookings and responding to 800# reservation calls.

The ICVA is the lead destination marketing organization for Indianapolis and partners with the many other organizations that support the city.

NUmedia: The ICVA is an organization that must appeal to two very different audiences- One effort is to bring in convention business through trade groups and the like. But a second effort is made to attract individuals for events and leisure travel. How do you balance those efforts? Do you seek synchronicity between them?

Wilkinson: As we further develop the new brand strategy we will be developing new creative elements to support our marketing efforts. Our strategies to attract convention business and leisure travelers will be similar and be supported by common pillars but we will deploy different tactics to attract these types of customers. For our convention business we deploy very targeted communications to our target customers as well as an increase in face to face communications. The ICVA will continue to participate in important trade show activities when appropriate as well as a myriad of other sales related activities. For the leisure visitor we will continue with our successful marketing initiatives to attract more tourists to Indianapolis as well as increase the length of stay for our leisure visitors. Our marketing initiatives will continue to include targeted advertising in our core markets within a day's drive our city.

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Thursday, February 19, 2009

Hoppe on the Arts: Unzipped

Posted By on Thu, Feb 19, 2009 at 4:00 AM

I need to get out more...

Last week I was on my way to dinner at the new (well, new to me) Adobo Grill on Washington St. downtown when I realized that, finally, the Zipper Building was gone.

One of the city's more eccentric buildings, the Zipper sat at the intersection of Washington and Virginia on a flatiron-style lot. It was built in 1961 by the local firm Lennox Matthews Simmons and Ford, Inc. -- a group that, as far as I know is gone -- and thank God for it. They also had a hand in my choice for Indy's ugliest building, the indecisively named City-County.

An exercise in midcentury wrongheadedness trying to pass itself off as forward thinking, the Zipper was the rare case: A building so bad it gradually became kind of good with the passage of time. It had personality, at least. Quentin Tarantino would have know just what to make of it.

I have to admit that I wasn't terribly sorry to see it being dismantled, a process that seemed to take an inordinate amount of time. I hoped that maybe, just maybe, downtown might be on the verge of getting a nifty piece of architecture on what should be considered a fairly significant site.

Ha!

The site's owner, The Broadbent Co. is known for developing retail strip centers like Clearwater Crossing and Castleton Plaza. And that's what's been perpetrated on the lot where the Zipper once stood. The kind of low-rise faux Iberian suburban design that you can see in Boca Raton, Ft. Worth, or Barrington, Il. It's a nice slice of angel food cake -- and another nail in the coffin of Indianapolis' urban aspirations.

Now I understand that people in Indianapolis place a premium on private property rights. If you buy space downtown, you are free to do with it what you please.

But I was also under the impression that the city had recently adopted design standards with the purpose of trying to raise its collective game when it came to downtown construction projects.

I had also been led to believe that the recognition of the importance of design standards proceeded from the hard won understanding that distinguishing between what's public and private in a public environment like our downtown is complicated. In other words, you may have the right to build something there, but everybody else has to live it. There is a question of responsibility.

In the case of the Zipper site, someone was asleep at the switch. Or, as usual here, so delighted that somebody, anybody wanted to build downtown that whatever the builders wanted to do was just fine.

And so what we get to live with for the next generation or two is a formulaic piece of generic suburban sprawl that looks as if it was lifted whole from somewhere in Carmel and deposited downtown. It's amazing it doesn't have its own parking lot.

I didn't think it was possible, but just as Gannett made the the old Indy Star seem respectable by comparison, what sits at the intersection of Washington and Virginia makes me pine for the Zipper Building.

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