The Lilly Endowment, a separate entity from the Eli Lilly Corporation and the Eli Lilly Foundation, is known locally for its shots in the arm, as it were, to local arts and culture organizations.

On Dec. 5, the Lilly Endowment enhanced said philanthropic reputation by announcing its Strengthening Indianapolis Through Arts and Cultural Innovation initiative grants, giving approximately 49 million to 17 separate projects to be implemented locally by 18 grantees.

The monies will fund everything from public school arts programs to a light show at Monument Circle to making the arts more accessible to people with disabilities.

The largest amount, $9,240,000 was awarded to the Indianapolis Parks Foundation for their Taggart Memorial Mainstage Amphitheater restoration project in Riverside Regional Park on the near northwest side of Indianapolis. The goal is to use Taggart Memorial as a backdrop for a brand new multipurpose outdoor amphitheater where the Indianapolis Shakespearean Company will stage free performances.  The venue, named after former Indianapolis Mayor Thomas Taggart, will also feature the free Indy Parks summer movie and concert performances.

“The restoration and activation of the Taggart Memorial is an ambitious and visionary part of the Riverside Park Master Plan, and will serve as an inspiring catalyst for future investment and transformation of Riverside Regional Park," said Indianapolis Parks Foundation President Lori Hazlett. 

The master plan, finalized in December 2017, was subsequently adapted as part of the comprehensive plan for the city.

A smaller, but no less noteworthy grant, was the $50,000 given to The Dance Heritage Programming Project.  Indiana Black Expo, partnering with Movin’ Legacy, will bring this project to fruition, bringing nationally-recognized choreographers to Indianapolis. After four days of workshops, involving six forms of African American dance, top students will be chosen to perform a flash mob and choreographed lesson at the Indiana Black Expo Summer Celebration at the Indiana Convention Center.   

The grantees will commence their programs in 2019.

Lilly Endowment Inc. which was founded in 1937, is one of the largest private endowments in the U.S. It is also one of the world’s largest private endowments. 

“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 in the December 5 press release. “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.”

Find the full list of recipients and funded projects here  


Editor's Note: this article was corrected to note the difference between the Lilly Endowment and the Eli Lilly Corporation and the Lilly Foundation.


Dan Grossman, Arts Editor at NUVO, can be reached by email at, by phone at 317-254-2400 or on Twitter @nuvoartsdan.

Writer Arts, Faith & Equity

Having lived and worked in Indy on and off since 1977, and currently living in Carmel, I've seen the city change a great deal. I love covering the arts in all its forms, and the places where the arts and broader cultural issues intersect.

Recommended for you