This is No. 2 in a series of three videos from our friends at New America about the realities of community revitalization and economic recovery in the much-discussed Industrial Heartland of America. It’s based on an Indiana tour that Deb Fallows and I made this spring, co-organized by New America Indianapolis and Indiana Humanities.
Installment No. 1 was about an innovative, inclusive job-training program called Build Your Future. This one is about the topic on which Deb and I have most changed our minds—or, really, had our eyes opened—during our travels over the past few years.
That topic is the role of public arts, “place making,” cultural festivals, and other arts-based means of generating civic connections and promoting economic development.
Half a dozen years ago, before we began these city-by-city travels, if you’d asked me about “the role of the arts,” I would have said something like: “Yeah, sure, arts are great! Everyone should like art [etc.].” Now we have a vivid place-by-place sense of the difference that ambitious public-arts programs can have. For instance:
- the Rogue Festival, in Fresno, California;
- the Mountain Stage music program (and related projects), in Charleston, West Virginia;
- Plein Air, in Winters, California;
- public statuary in Sioux Falls and Rapid City, South Dakota;
- the monument to victims of the northernmost lynching in American history, which occurred in 1920 in Duluth, Minnesota;
- Tales From the Crypt and Emancipation Day, in Columbus, Mississippi;
- a large artist-in-residence program in Tulsa, Oklahoma, taking in some 60 professional visual, literary, multimedia, and other artists each year;
- another artist-in-residence program, in Eastport, Maine;
- the Final Friday arts program in Dodge City, Kansas;
- San Bernardino Generation Now, in San Bernardino, California;
- the downtown arts-based renovation in Angola, Indiana;
- and a lot more.
The film below is about one of Indianapolis’s (many) answers to the question of how arts can renew a community.
The video focuses on the Big Car Collaborative, which is a multibuilding art space and civic-engagement organization in Indianapolis. Among its events are its First Friday gatherings and art tours. Check out the video for more.
Thanks to the videographer and editor Michael Jensen, the executive producer Fuzz Hogan, plus our other friends at New America.