A leading national arts advocacy organization, Americans For the Arts, has recognized Mayor Bart Peterson with its Government Leadership in the Arts award. This award, according to a press release, "honors elected officials and legendary artists who have significantly enriched the quality of American lives through the arts and exhibited outstanding leadership Ö at the national, state and local levels." Past honorees include Mayors Richard Daley of Chicago and Marc Morial of New Orleans, as well as Sens. Ted Kennedy and Jim Jeffords.
Peterson was nominated for the award by the Arts Council of Indianapolis. Ramona Baker, head of the Arts Council, serves on the board of Americans For the Arts. As if mindful that the mayor"s cultural notoriety should be based as much on deeds as good intentions, the Indianapolis Cultural Development Commission, the board formed to oversee Peterson"s cultural agenda, approved proposals for three programs designed to bolster the administration"s Cultural Tourism Initiative - the project intended to make Indianapolis a viable tourist destination. In 2003, this initiative will fund development efforts to establish cultural districts in five selected neighborhoods; create three special funds to support cultural activities; and complete a public art master planning process. Indianapolis Downtown, Inc. and its consultant, The Corsaro Group, will lead a planning process aimed at developing cultural districts in Broad Ripple, Fountain Square, the White River State Park area (including Indiana Avenue), Massachusetts Avenue and the downtown Wholesale District. This planning process promises to engage a lead organization as partner in each district and work closely with neighborhood stakeholders. The process will include an inventory of existing assets, an assessment of strengths and opportunities, provision of a preliminary budget, identification of funding sources and preparation of a grant proposal. Each of the districts" plans will be compiled into a comprehensive report, which will be presented at a meeting in September 2003. Special funds will support programs and projects that serve the Cultural Tourism Initiative. This funding will be awarded in three categories: Collaborations/Special Initiatives; Cultural Districts; and Entrepreneurial. The Arts Council of Indianapolis will administer these funding opportunities. The funding levels will vary. Premiums will be placed on applicants" willingness to collaborate with other organizations - both nonprofit and for-profit - and ability to leverage other funds. The Entrepreneurial funding line is intended for short-term projects or those that require quick turnaround. The Public Art Master Plan, also administered by the Arts Council, is supposed to establish a vision for art that will enhance the visual experience of the community through artwork and artists" involvement. It will include enhancing existing pieces of art and developing new work, along with establishing guidelines and recommending funding sources. The Freeman/Whitehurst Group, public art consultants based in Phoenix, Ariz., has been hired to facilitate the planning process and draft the Master Plan, which is due in July 2003. The plan will be presented to the public beginning in August and possible funding sources are to be identified through the end of the year. For more information about these programs, contact the Arts Council of Indianapolis at 631-3301, or Indianapolis Downtown, Inc. at 237-2222.