Indianapolis' monthly First Friday art events bring together those involved and curious about the city's art scene to experience the latest exhibitions and hop from artists' studios to galleries throughout downtown. A record-breaking crowd of 2,000 packed the Food Con opening at Harrison Center for the Arts in March.
Behind the free, self-guided art tours is the all-volunteer, non-profit membership organization IDADA, the Indianapolis Downtown Artists and Dealers Association. IDADA serves studio artists, art galleries, and art-related businesses within a twenty-block radius of the center of Indianapolis.
NUVO sat down for lunch in Fountain Square with Abbey Pintar, IDADA's President, who began her yearlong term in January. Pintar, with a Master's in Art History and a full-time position at Herron School of Art and Design, knows about art and is bright and poised – handy characteristics for bringing together businesses, artists and community.
NUVO: What does IDADA offer to the Indianapolis community?
Pintar: Providing a fun, social outing once a month through the IDADA First Friday Art Tours is valuable. The exhibition openings let people who aren't actively involved in the art world know there are working artists in Indianapolis who have talent. Something I'm working on is branding First Fridays. Some people have been attending First Fridays for years, but don't know about IDADA. We want to make people more aware that the event is the "IDADA First Friday Art Tour" so they remember there is an organization behind the evenings.
We've about a hundred IDADA artist members and around twenty-five galleries. Our annual membership drive is in November and December, and dues pay for ads and printing of art tour maps and signs. Basically, the artists and gallery owners want to see sales, and that's part of what IDADA encourages. IDADA provides networking opportunities where artists learn from each other and interact with art dealers. They stay involved with art and know what's going on around the city.
NUVO: IDADA First Fridays have been a big success, but do you feel like you're reaching the same audience each month?
Pintar: A new partnership with IndyGo is nice in helping us reach out more to the community. IndyGo advertises and advocates taking the bus to IDADA events. They mention our events in print, online and in radio ads. We're happy to partner with others to exchange resources, like displaying posters or brochures for ad spaces on IDADA's website or maps. With the Super Bowl coming up, we're exploring more creative partner ideas.
NUVO: Do you see IDADA expanding to include venues outside of downtown, like Broad Ripple?
Pintar: In order to do what we do well, IDADA needs to focus on the twenty blocks that radiate from downtown. (Plus, we'd then have to change our name.) Those outside of downtown may support us by becoming a Friend of IDADA and by purchasing art from member artists and galleries.
NUVO: What could benefit IDADA and the greater arts community the most?
Pintar: Money. We need funds to help us do the things we're dreaming. We have technology needs for revamping our website. More money for advertising and possibly funds to hire someone to seek artist opportunities is also on our wish list.
NUVO: How did you become involved with IDADA?
Pintar: I started attending meetings back in spring 2007. I was working at the University of Indianapolis for the Wheeler Arts Community at the time, and wanted to get Wheeler more involved with Indy's art scene. In 2008, I was an at-large representative and always on the lookout for opportunities for IDADA members. Last year, I was appointed Vice-President, which led to my Presidency.
NUVO: What is your role as the President of IDADA? Have you made any changes?
Pintar: I feel like my role is to help keep everyone organized. We announced a new committee structure in November at our annual meeting and asked for participation in committees such as Activities, Exhibitions, Ethics & Fair Practices, and Communications. About thirty people engage in the committees. Before, we were grabbing members to participate whenever something came up, so the structure wasn't as engaging or as organized. I think people in general work better face-to-face instead of solely through email. One of my goals is to field questions about what tasks should go to what committees, and to make sure groups follow through with projects.
NUVO: So what do the committees do?
Pintar: The more IDADA has grown, the more people want to do, and the more members want to be engaged. The Communications Committee is working on the new website – more of an interactive blog format where we feature artists, reviews, and allow for comments and feedback. We'll still have IDADA First Friday Art Tour maps online to download, and artists and galleries profiles...and surprises are in the works.
NUVO: Let's get back to that. How successful was the First In Line art sale fundraiser considering today's tough market?
Pintar: First In Line is a good example of increased artist participation. This year's event was held on Mass. Ave. in the former G. C. Lucas Gallery space. Fifty-one artworks were donated for the one-night sale, and each cost $100. Artists often are asked to donate their art without receiving compensation. So we followed policies recently posted on our website by the Ethics & Fair Practices Committee, and gave artists the option of donating their artwork and giving the full $100 to IDADA if the work sold or splitting the proceeds with IDADA fifty-fifty. Due to the economy, we didn't sell as many works as we wanted, but it encouraged us to look at other fundraising opportunities.
NUVO: What's up-and-coming...and surprising?
Pintar: IDADA was just awarded a grant for the re-design of our website by the Efroymson Family Fund, a CICF Fund. We'll have an interactive map of IDADA event venues plus interactive features to help manage new critique nights for artists. In the works: a Fourth of July member party and possibly an October artists' pumpkin carving contest with auction. And, of course, the next IDADA First Friday Art Tour is May 7, so we hope to see people out and about for that event.
For more on IDADA, go to: www.idada.org