7th Annual Author Belva Davis once said, “Don’t be afraid of the space between your dreams and reality. If you can dream it, you can make it so.” The recipients of the Cultural Vision Awards have walked that space between their dreams and reality and have brought the two together. To do so has taken great courage and determination. But their willingness to endure the risks and hardships necessary to make their dreams a reality has enriched us all. On behalf of First Indiana, I’d like to congratulate the honorees and thank them for proving that dreams can come true.
Chairman, First Indiana Bank
David Hoppe When NUVO initiated the Cultural Vision Awards seven years ago, we had at least two goals in mind. We wanted to recognize individuals and organizations doing innovative work in Indianapolis. The Cultural Vision Awards have been NUVO’s way of shining a light on talented people and creative enterprises that make this town unique.
Our second goal for these awards can be summed up in one word: community. Selecting and recognizing Cultural Vision Award honorees is an ongoing process. Nominees for the awards are suggested to us throughout the course of the year by people all over the city. Anyone can make a nomination — and anyone can be nominated.
This year, the process has been given added depth thanks to our new CVA partners, the news team at Channel 8, WISH TV.
All of these honorees are related to one another, regardless of their field of endeavor. They share a certain commitment, creativity and enthusiasm. We think they represent a kind of community and we hope to find ways of bringing them together so that they might draw strength from one another — and so that we might draw strength from them.
This year’s honorees exemplify the qualities the Cultural Vision Awards have always celebrated. Read their stories. Each one provides another reason to feel good about the city we call home.
American Pianists Association/Kroger Indy Jazz FestAnne Laker Smart cities know how to turn their heritage into tourism gold while boosting hometown pride. That’s why no one was surprised when the first Indy Jazz Fest (IJF) in 1999 attracted 55,000 people from all over the nation. Indianapolis had a new powerhouse player on its cultural team and, at last, a public, festive nod to our music legacy — taking our rightful place next to New Orleans and Kansas City in the geography of jazz.
Then, in the Jazz Fest’s second year, hammering rain wiped out ticket sales and plunged the non-profit into a deluge of debt. By fall 2002, a new tradition was nearly dead.
Enter the American Pianists Association (APA), a national organization dedicated to discovering and advancing the careers of emerging world-class jazz and classical pianists. APA had been doing its own one-night jazz fund-raiser in Military Park since 1994, and accepted the invitation to be a partner in the inaugural Indy Jazz Fest. “However, by 2002, we were hearing how much trouble Jazz Fest was in,” says Helen Small, executive director of APA.
Small and the APA board decided to approach the IJF board to see what could be done to save and sustain Indy Jazz Fest.
What did it take? Generosity, civic self-respect and a lot of arm twisting.
Indianapolis Airport Authority President and attorney Lacy Johnson, an APA board member, led the way with a personal donation in the six figures, given on the condition that APA become the manager of IJF. “Lacy is a big supporter of Indianapolis as a top-flight city,” Small says. “His involvement was pivotal.” Michael O’Brien of Printing Partners and Tom Henry, both APA board members, joined the effort. Small appeared before the bond bank board President Bob Clifford to ask him to forgive IJF’s $300,000 debt to the City of Indianapolis. The team persuaded other vendors to take half of what they were owed to keep IJF alive. Headline sponsor Kroger also stuck with IJF in the darkest hour.
“It would have been tragic to have lost the event,” Small says. “Indianapolis was the crossroads of the cultural evolution of the ’20s and ’30s and played a large role in the careers of many influential jazz artists.” On Indiana Avenue, jazz icons played right alongside Indianapolis greats like Wes Montgomery and Slide Hampton.
Small, who worked for the Indianapolis Violin Competition before joining the American Pianists Association eight years ago, knew she had to overhaul the funding formula for Indy Jazz Fest. Ticket sales are no longer the cake, only the icing. Corporate and foundation support is raised before each festival, and makes up 90 percent of the festival budget. Good planning and fiscal discipline helped revive the full-blown IJF in 2004, to the delight of fans.
The 2005 Kroger Indy Jazz Fest is set for June 17-19, and will feature art sales in the Bank One Jazz Village, more kids’ activities and a much anticipated musical lineup. Indy Jazz Fest has been restored to a place among the city’s cultural crown jewels — and thanks to the American Pianists Association, no one should ever take it for granted.
AYSMary Lee Pappas Twenty-five years ago, Ellen Clippinger, then a faculty member at Ivy Tech State College, was having coffee with a colleague who was lamenting that, after getting a divorce, she had no place for her children to go after school.
“You know, what if children were kept after school in an after-school program of some sort?” Clippinger said. “We just kept going with the planning and, low and behold, about seven months later … AYS [formally At Your School] was born.”
Clippinger, AYS founder and executive director, used her connections as a member of the Parent Board at School 70 to initiate the first programming there. Now, six different school corporations and four parochial schools in four counties benefit from unique AYS programs. On any given day, there are approximately 1,500 children (2,300 are enrolled in AYS) engaged in an AYS program.
“We’re here to help working parents and all parents who want their children to have some kind of a social experience after school, to be with other kids, to learn how to resolve conflict and more. In the beginning, I would say AYS was primarily for the working parent, but it has grown to be a much broader program,” she explained. “AYS complements what goes on in the school day. We are not carrying out the lesson plans that the teachers have,” but school and AYS teachers will work together to assist students with their special interest or problems. Lines of communication are open.
Clippinger stressed another asset of AYS. “We see parents every day so we are prime for discussing issues with them or just celebrating the wonderful things their children have done.”
AYS is also the only agency in the state having accredited after-school programs through the National After School Association that Clippinger was president of for four years, having helped develop the association’s national standards.
“Indiana does not, for the most part, provide for all-day kindergarten,” Clippinger said, so AYS started their own kindergarten program at First Meridian Heights Presbyterian Church in 1987. Subsequently, many school systems have adopted it. AYS also provides special middle school programs and early childhood programs for 4-year-olds.
“We’ve done a lot with literacy,” she added. “It may be a book club in one program or creating a newspaper in another.”
Over the years, a variety of specialized programs have been created. “Kids love to go out and collect whatever is outside on the school grounds,” she said, describing a science-based program. Music, drama and dance programs exist where children write their own plays or learn the violin through the Suzuki method.
“I am very appreciative of staff, some of whom have been with us for 20 years. We’ve grown together.”
David Clough Jim Walker Long a Broad Ripple mainstay at his retail store, Future Shock, David “Tufty” Clough is working to make his Fountain Square bar a destination for people in search of artful entertainment in a friendly and healthy environment.
Unique in so many ways, Radio Radio stands alone most for what it doesn’t allow. After suffering some serious health problems himself, Clough decided a little more than a year ago to make his bar non-smoking. He lost some business at first, but soon found ways to bring people back.
Radio Radio, through necessity and as a reflection of Clough’s interests, has steadily become the city’s arts bar. Right now, paintings don’t hang on the walls of the rectangular room decorated with a lit bar and leopard-print carpet picked up at the Planet Hollywood auction. You may not encounter a bunch of avant-garde types arguing about communism. What makes Radio Radio an arts bar are the risks Clough takes in booking musical acts that fall far from the mainstream. “We bring in these great acts who go back to San Francisco; Austin, Texas; or New York and spread the word that our place is an OK place to play. Then more want to come.”
Clough also loves bringing video into the mix and even hosted the art film Nausea II in conjunction with iMOCA a few months ago. “That’s kind of where I want to go. When it’s non-smoking you can do more video stuff,” Clough says. “You don’t have to worry about it burning your eyes.”
After years of focusing on music, Clough enjoys making films himself these days in his home studio. “I got up at 3 a.m. and was down there messing with after effects,” he says.
Making music and video is where Clough’s passion lies. So, if he can’t yet get out of the business world and focus on being an artist, he’s going to bring the artists to him at his place of business. “I want to mingle with the people making films,” he says. “I’d like to hang out with them. So I’m trying to figure out how to get them here.” Ultimately, Clough would like to see Radio Radio as a place where most nights feature a mixture of film, music and good conversation.
Always full of ideas, Clough would like to organize a music video competition — linking local filmmakers to local bands. The videos would be screened at Radio Radio in sort of a Battle of the Bands setup. “It would be great for the bands to have a video for their promotions. And it would be great for the people making videos to have an audience.”
With all of this, Clough hopes to see Fountain Square continue to blossom as an arts and entertainment destination. He plans to add more of a hangout element to his club — with more food and comfortable furniture. He’d also like to draw in other businesses interested in offering the same sort of vibe that Radio Radio is creating. “It’s just going to take a few more places to make this area really cool,” he says.
Joanna TaftJim Walker The first thing Joanna Taft did when she took over as director of the revamped Harrison Center for the Arts was walk through the then-dilapidated-and-half-empty church building at 16th and Delaware and decide she was going to do what it took to bring life to the place. Prior to the Harrison Center’s reorganization as a non-profit cultural and spiritual center, the building was a short-lived, for-profit arts venture.
Taft’s first big idea was to rent all of the building’s available studio spaces — regardless of “size or shape or smell” — for $100 per month. The dozen or so vacant spots filled quickly. “Once we had all the artists here, the Harrison Center had a vibe because they were creating and building something together,” Taft says.
One of those artists, Kyle Ragsdale, was Taft’s right-hand man right from the start. A month after Taft came on board, Ragsdale’s paintings hung as the first show, Love in the Time of Football, in the brand-new gallery space. “We didn’t know what we were doing,” Taft says. “We had great ideas. But we were doing everything by the seat of our pants.”
The Harrison Center quickly became a vibrant home base for emerging artists as well as “emerging patrons” — people with a budding, if somewhat tentative, interest in supporting art. Taft, who isn’t an artist and was fairly new to the art scene when she took over, sympathized with these patrons. “We’ve realized there is a group of patrons who aren’t given an opportunity to enter the art world. So we try to do everything we can to disarm them and open the place up to anybody who wants to come,” she says. “We’ve had people come in and say, ‘I don’t like art.’ But, by the end of the evening, they are laughing and smiling and saying, ‘You’ve made art fun.’”
With Ragsdale and Pam Alee now working with Taft full-time and sharing the center’s laughter-filled communal office, the Harrison’s seat-of-the-pants approach has been supplemented with marketing strategies. But none of the fun has vanished from this place. At the April opening, a broad variety of art hung in the gallery and hallways, two Herron students projected video shorts and a band playing odd instruments and reading aloud from old books entertained in a room that serves as a nursery for the church that shares the Harrison space.
Like every Harrison opening, it was a great evening of entertainment for members of the city’s Creative Class — Taft’s target audience. “We try to fulfill everything they’d like within the four walls of the Harrison Center,” she says.
To do this, Taft — with cell phone in hand — rarely stops working on new ideas. “I love my job and I love what we’re doing here,” she says.
The Heartland Film FestivalDavid Hoppe “Middle America is being ignored by Hollywood,” says Jeff Sparks, a founder and director of the Heartland Film Festival. “The film industry really does ignore the rest of the country in many ways.”
Sparks wants to do something about that because he loves movies. He has been moved and inspired by them. But he is dismayed by the cheap thrills the movie business has resorted to in order to chase an increasingly teen-age audience. Too many people, he believes, are being turned off by much of what’s on offer at the multiplex.
“People stop, they get out of the habit of going to movies,” Sparks says. “We want to re-energize these people.”
In 1986, Sparks was directing the New Harmony Project, a nationally recognized annual workshop for playwrights interested in creating work informed by spiritual values and aimed at honoring human experience. His work with New Harmony prompted funders to ask if the same principles might apply to making a positive impact on film. The answer, in 1992, was the Heartland Film Festival.
Since that time, Heartland has consistently been one of the most well-endowed festivals in the country. Through its cash prizes to filmmakers and the imprimatur of its Crystal Heart Awards, Heartland has steadily grown in influence and won respect among film professionals, as well as with audiences — in Indianapolis and across the country. Last year, the festival received 529 entries, a five-fold increase over its first year.
But 2004 was a Heartland milestone for another reason. “We will look back and say that this was the year we began making a significant impact,” says Sparks, referring to the success of the feature Because of Winn-Dixie, a film that became a grass-roots hit with audiences, thanks in large measure to its association with Heartland.
Now Sparks is beginning to hear from Hollywood, taking calls from producers who are becoming interested in making movies for audiences that the Heartland Film Festival — through its awards, its Web site listing of “Truly Moving Pictures” and its reputation for fairness and integrity — is showing it can reach. “Wouldn’t it be interesting if we could move this huge population that’s in the middle of the country to being more proactive with film?” Sparks asks.
Although Heartland was started in the midst of ongoing national controversy over family values, the festival has managed to keep from being entangled with any particular agenda or ideology. The key to its durability has been its dedication to what the festival dubs “Truly Moving Pictures”: inspiring, character-driven films that capture an element of truth about the human experience.
Ultimately, Sparks envisions Heartland acting as an advocate for all those people who feel disenfranchised by Hollywood. He’s working to develop the clout that might someday help get the green light for good films. “The hope,” he says, “is that we can build a constituency.”
Historic Landmarks Foundation of IndianaDavid Hoppe In 1960, when a group of Indianapolis civic leaders created Historic Landmarks Foundation of Indiana, the development department in Indianapolis had a quota requiring them to tear down 3,000 buildings a year. The city’s architectural character was being systematically demolished by the wrecking ball.
“Historic preservation was viewed as nice, but not necessary,” recalls J. Reid Williamson, who has recently retired after leading HLFI for the past 31 years. A recent survey found that there are now 8,000 abandoned buildings in the city. This means there are 8,000 buildings with the potential to be rehabilitated and reused. “Now,” Williamson says, “the sense of place and maintaining what you already have imparts more character and attracts more creative people. Old buildings do not have to be eyesores,” Williamson adds. “They can be fixed up.”
From its first success, reviving Lockerbie Square, to its role in advocating for the preservation and reuse of vintage facades in the design of the Circle Centre Mall, Historic Landmarks has played a major role in preserving and enhancing Indy’s built environment.
Historic Landmarks has grown to become the largest private statewide preservation group in the United States, with an Indianapolis headquarters on the Central Canal downtown and nine regional offices.
“Fifteen percent of our staff have Phi Beta Kappa keys,” says Williamson, not trying to conceal his pride. “Two-thirds of our staff have master’s degrees. Our department heads average 17 years with us. Six current staff members have left us and then come back — which is wonderful. You talk about a dedicated staff — we set the standard.”
HLFI helps people preserve landmarks, neighborhoods and even commercial districts. As a last resort, the foundation buys vacant, endangered historic buildings as a way of inspiring neighborhood revitalization. The foundation reaches out to the general public through the creation of historic sites, tours, publications, meetings and workshops. Williamson has also been involved in the city’s 20/20 visioning process and has been an outspoken advocate in favor of the creation of a set of downtown design standards.
“You add up all of our historic districts — there are over a dozen now in Indianapolis — that represents pretty close to 25,000 people,” Williamson observes. “The Indianapolis Preservation Commission cannot accommodate all the districts and areas that want to come under their protection.”
For Williamson, old buildings are the physical embodiment of our community’s memory. They connect us to previous generations. So the preservation of historic buildings is not only a way to improve the visual character of the city, it also helps us better understand who we are. “We are not losing significant historic buildings anymore in Indianapolis. That was not the case 25 years ago.”
Second HelpingsJim Walker In a time of so much wastefulness, so much short-sightedness, Second Helpings stands out as a brilliant concept functioning brilliantly. Instead of wasting fresh food that would be discarded by local restaurants and grocery stores, Second Helpings’ mostly volunteer staff cooks and serves it to hungry people. Not only that, the preparation process becomes a teaching tool for people who need a marketable skill.
Each week, Second Helpings “rescues” enough food — usually perishables like dairy, produce, meats and breads — to feed 3,000 people. Ready-to-eat meals go to 50 different non-profits serving needy populations: the homeless, senior citizens, inner-city children and people in addiction programs. “It’s kind of like one of those, ‘Gee, I wish I would have thought of that; ideas,’” Executive Director Gina Brooks says. “It just makes sense.”
Second Helpings, a non-profit business based in downtown’s southeast side, started as an idea here in 1995. The founders were all chefs: Kristen Cordoza, Jean Paison and Bob Koch. They raised $160,000 before opening their doors. “That told us the community was behind us,” Brooks says, who was the organization’s office manager at the beginning. Second Helpings opened in its first building in 1998 and bought its current facility — a large industrial building — in January of 2004. After starting with two paid staff members, a paid driver and two volunteer drivers, Second Helpings now employs 12 people — many being graduates of the food-preparation training program there — and benefits from the help of 350 volunteers.
So far, Second Helpings has trained 170 people currently holding jobs in the food-service industry. Most of them, Brooks says, were on public assistance programs before emerging with their new skills.
While it quietly does so much good behind the scenes, the general public may know Second Helpings best from its unique fund-raising events. In February, for example, Second Helpings hosted a popular Souper Bowl event — where chefs created tasty soups for public samplings. In April, it offered the Indy’s Ultimate Chef competition. The Tonic Gallery and Tonic Ball fund-raisers happen in Fountain Square on Nov. 18.
“We have some pretty cool fund-raisers,” Brooks says. “Marketing is one of our major strategies. When we say ‘food rescue’ to people, they often aren’t sure what that is. People know Second Helpings but aren’t sure what we do. We hope these events can help people understand better.”
What Second Helpings does is conserve. Simple as that. “With all of the available resources we have here, we’re just taking what was going into the dumpster and feeding 3,000 people,” Brooks says. “It’s just the right thing to do.”
Traders Point CreameryAnne Laker Never underestimate the power of moo juice to make positive cultural change. In just two years, Traders Point Creamery in Zionsville has become a beacon for sustainable family agriculture and everybody’s favorite source for milk, ice cream, cream, butter, yogurt and soft cheeses — lovingly produced and luxuriantly good, not to mention certified organic.
Your typical factory farm dairy raises cattle in tight quarters, pumps them full of antibiotics and hormones, feeds them pesticide-laden grains and ships their product to grocery stores three states away. Traders Point does just the opposite, offering a healthier, tastier product — and embodying an ethical alternative to agribusiness.
Owners Peter F. and Jane Elder Kunz took the 112 acres she inherited and began with the philosophy that “nourishing our land will afford us a food source that has the highest nutritional qualities.” The 60 Traders Point cattle get a diet of grass and hay. As a result, their milk is rich in “good fats” and other nutrients known for their role in preventing heart disease, weight gain and cancer. “We believe strongly in the 100 percent grassfed nutritional benefit,” Jane says, “but it is very expensive to produce. Our challenge will be educating the customer to understand and appreciate this health benefit.”
The direct connection to customers is one secret to Traders Point’s success. Visit the Broad Ripple Farmers Market on summer Saturdays and you’ll find crowds thronging for a sample of raspberry yogurt or chocolate milk. The Kunzes and their three glowing children share their dairy wares in person; “marketing” was never this sincere. “There has literally been a groundswell of ‘have you tasted the milk from Traders Point Creamery?!’” Jane says. “The most rewarding aspect of our work is mingling with our customers who are truly appreciative of the efforts made by every member of our talented team.”
That team includes Neil McDonald, farm manager, who specializes in rotational grazing and grassfed animal health; Fons Smits, manager of dairy processing, who hails from Holland and has perfected the art of “letting the cow teach you”; and David Robb, manager of business development, whose wizardry has ensured that Traders Point products are available at 70 retail outlets and used by savvy chefs at Brix in Zionsville, Decadent by Design in Fountain Square, Restaurant Tallent in Bloomington and North Pond in Chicago, to name a few. (See a complete list at www.traderspointcreamery.com.)
Traders Point Creamery is also a great place to visit. During the seasonal Friday night/Saturday morning markets, in the 19th century hand-hewn barn, you can get a meal made from local products, be it a warm quiche or a spinach salad. Traders Point demonstrates its commitment to sustainable farming by inviting fellow local farmers to sell meats, honey and eggs.
What’s the best feedback Traders Point gets? Jane Elder Kunz says, “Adults tell us they love the health benefits. The kids say, ‘Your milk tastes like ice cream.’” Aside from dynamite dairy products, Traders Point Creamery’s contribution to our culture is to close the gap between the making of food and the consumption of it — the very definition of sustainability.
David YoungDavid Hoppe Before people in Indianapolis were talking abut the importance of attracting a “creative class” of professionals to help make the city a national destination, David Young was demonstrating just what that meant. For over 20 years, Young, with a variety of collaborators, most notably Jeff Laramore, has been living proof that art and commerce can cohabitate in Indianapolis. In the process, Young has built a nationally recognized advertising agency, Young & Laramore, spun that into a creative company specializing in public art work, 2nd Globe, amassed a significant body of work as a visual artist and made important contributions as a board member with the Indianapolis Art Center.
“I never tried to be innovative,” says Young, whose portfolio would, on the surface, appear to make more sense in Seattle or L.A. than Indianapolis. “I never tried to just be different. What I’ve tried to do is look objectively at what’s there.”
Throughout the course of his professional life, Young has fielded questions from people about why he sticks to his Indianapolis roots when he could conceivably have sold himself in a larger market. “But you’d be in a place where it’s been done,” he says. “You’d be in a place where it was relatively easy to do well. And you’d be in a place where they expected everyone to be very specialized.”
That last point is perhaps most important. Young calls Indianapolis a “creative frontier,” a place where it’s possible to stretch one’s talents and avoid being pigeon-holed. In larger markets, he observes, “There are so many people competing, you have to narrow your vocabulary and repeat it for people to remember what you do.”
Young is very conscious about being a Midwesterner and this informs his work. “People who collaborate with me — we just disappear and then the thing happens. I think that approach is true to the Midwest.”
When Young and Jeff Laramore were getting into the ad business, they were often told by well-meaning folks that their approach to the work wouldn’t fly around here. “But people here have innate intelligence comparable to people anywhere else,” insists Young, whose firm billed $67.5 million in 2004. “They rise to intelligent insights from honest expressions. In advertising — and in art.”
Young would like to see local leaders “view the world in terms of what we can do as opposed to let’s not make any mistakes. The investment in art in Florence was so profound — and it’s still working. Just because it was done a long time ago, doesn’t mean it can’t be done now.
“What I think is so helpful about being here — and what I’d like to see more people do — is embrace the reality of the world they’re in and let it tell them what to do so that people around the world, and people in the future, will know what it’s like to be here. To be alive here now. That seems to be the best assignment you can give yourself as an artist.”
Lifetime Achievement Award Anna WhiteDavid Hoppe “There’s been a lot of enjoyment.” That’s how Anna White sums up her career as an arts advocate, administrator and, most of all, an arts lover in Indianapolis. This sense of enjoyment has inspired her to serve as one of this city’s most influential arts leaders. Best known as the long-standing former director of Young Audiences of Indiana, the state’s largest arts education organization, White has also been a board member for many of Indy’s most important cultural landmarks, including the Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra, the Indianapolis Museum of Art, Dance Kaleidoscope, WFYI, the International Violin Competition and the Indiana Youth Institute.
When White moved to Indianapolis in 1966 with her husband Jim, the city’s once proud arts scene had, like the city itself, fallen on hard times. But the arts were an integral part of White’s life. Although she had grown up on a farm in South Dakota, art, and especially music, played a major role in her family. “It was a family tradition,” she says of a homelife that included piano lessons and singing in the church choir. “When we’d get together, we’d play duets.” White studied music at Augustana College and then at the University of Minnesota, where she received a master’s degree. So one of the first things she did upon arriving in the Circle City was to volunteer at the Art Museum (then at the Herron site on 16th Street). Shortly after that, she was asked to join the board of Young Audiences.
White’s understanding of the importance of the arts in education prompted her to become one of Indiana’s leading arts advocates. White stresses that arts education isn’t about teaching kids to be artists, but rather to be whole people. “Much of art is individual and solitary,” she notes. “But the performing arts are very much a communal discipline. It’s teamwork. It’s being on time. It’s the place you’re supposed to be.”
White adds, “The arts bring not just discipline, but everyday creativity and flexibility to one’s learning. It helps one adjust to changes.”
White believes that it is crucial for students to have one-on-one experiences with works of art and with artists themselves. “It’s important for kids to see artists making a living. It places value on artists in their community.” The mission of Young Audiences is to bring artists into schools that, too often, have little or no arts programs of their own. During White’s tenure, YA of Indiana annually served over 300,000 children in over 50 counties and developed one of the largest artist rosters of any of the 32 chapters across the country. This has not only served Indiana’s young people, it has also meant that YA has become a significant source of income for artists in a state in which economic opportunities for artists are scarce.
“The position of Young Audiences is that artists be paid for their work,” White says. “We would get a lot of calls asking for artists to volunteer for this or that event, and we basically said no. You wouldn’t call a plumber and ask him to fix your sink for the ‘exposure.’”
White laughs when she says this. Laughter is a frequent part of her conversation — it’s a gracious way she has of emphasizing a point and inviting agreement. It may also be that White’s sense of humor has played a part, not only in helping her to grow Young Audiences into a program serving children from pre-schoolers through high school, but in getting the arts taken seriously by this city’s leadership class.
White was a founding member of the Consortium of Arts Administrators, a group that formed the basis for what would, through a number of incarnations, become the Arts Council of Indianapolis. White helped to establish a system of public funding for the arts in Indianapolis. “It took a very long time and was very hard work,” she says, remembering days when it seemed like a victory just to get a mayor here to acknowledge that the arts had civic value. “There really was no solid endorsement of the arts by a mayoral candidate until Bart Peterson.”
Although she has retired from her Young Audiences post, White continues to push our arts organizations to realize their potential. Next year’s International Violin Competition and this summer’s re-opening of the Indianapolis Museum of Art are two projects she is involved with. She is especially excited about the attention the IMA’s expansion will afford contemporary art and has been lending a hand in planning for the museum’s first major exhibition, a blockbuster show dealing with the Arts & Crafts movement.
“Participation” is what she wants more of for the burgeoning arts scene she finds here today. “I’d really like to see engagement by more people in the arts — however that might be.” That’s because, for White, the arts are “a necessity. They’re part of what make us human. It’s a spiritual quality, however that’s expressed. They make us more of who we are.”