IMAF's 17-year-old coordinator takes the lead for this year's festival 

For Evelyn Allee, the arts are a family affair.

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Evelyn Allee and fellow Herron High School student volunteering at IMAF in 2013

The Herron High School junior is entering her second year as coordinator of the Independent Music + Art Festival (IMAF) hosted by the Harrison Center for the Arts.

"I don't do a lot of art, but I have grown up around artists," says Allee. "I live very close to the Harrison Center and have been going to First Fridays pretty much my whole life. I know a lot artists and have been able to see a lot of different types of work they do."

Her father, Brian Allee, is a found object sculptor and jazz drummer; uncle, Steve Allee, is a jazz pianist; and to top it off, her cousin, David Allee, owns the Jazz Kitchen.

Having interned with the HCA for the last two years and been to nearly every IMAF since it was created, Allee knows the ropes. To be fair, part of that is due to her mother working at the center. Having attended IMAF since its inception she has worn every hat: volunteer, vendor and now sole coordinator.

The annual event allows her the "common service opportunity" credits that Herron counts toward graduation. Last year, Allee was able to co-coordinate. This year the reins have been handed off, and with them has come the bane of any coordinator's existence — a lot of organizational challenges.

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"It is difficult to not have someone else to consult with and share the responsibilities," says Allee.

Her daily grind consists of running board meetings, registering with the health department, applying for grants, and weighing in on which bands and artists get to show on the big day. The difference is that her job doesn't stop at a vote around a conference table. She translates the board's seal of approval into action and makes certain that everyone actually gets there and has everything they need.

The good people at HCA have created a binder system to help organizers like Allee keep track of what other organizers have done in the past and has essentially become a blueprint to the 7,000-person event. The weekend is a tall order but always worth it.

"I like seeing everything come together as a whole, but my favorite part of the day is when the headliner plays and everyone comes out and dances," says Allee. "It is great to see my hard work pay off and see people enjoying themselves."

If you have never been, Allee has a few tips.

"There is a lot to see and do," says Allee. "Try and see everything. There are so many things that are hidden throughout, indoors and outdoors. I feel like going around the block and through the building a few times you can notice all kinds of things you wouldn't notice just sweeping through. There is always a booth or something at a booth that I never noticed."


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Emily Taylor

Emily Taylor

Emily is the arts editor at NUVO, where she covers everything from visual art to comedy. In fact she is probably at a theater production right now. Before joining the ranks here, she worked for Indianapolis Monthly and Gannett. You can find her thoughts about Indy scattered throughout the NUVO arts section and... more

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