NASAA Notes: October 2023

October 4, 2023

Indiana: Creative Convergence Program

A Creative Convergence participant receives a certificate of completion from a training leader. Photo courtesy Indiana Arts Commission

Arts and culture are essential drivers of community and economic development initiatives. They contribute to the creation of vibrant, sustainable communities that attract residents, visitors and businesses alike.

The Indiana Arts Commission (IAC) has long been invested in both the creative sector throughout the state and the success and sustainability of Indiana’s communities through arts and culture development. IAC recently launched an exciting pilot program, Creative Convergence, which focuses on fostering artistic innovation and community engagement. This project stemmed from the findings of the Planning with Arts & Culture study, released by the Indiana Communities Institute in 2022, which examined how Indiana municipalities were utilizing local arts and culture in their community and economic development strategies. The study underscored the need for support in identifying and leveraging the creative sector to improve quality of life for local communities.

As part of the pilot program, five Indiana communities diverse in size, location and challenges—Bedford, Dillsboro, Monticello, Valparaiso and Warsaw—were awarded with early action grants to harness the transformative power of the arts to address local challenges and cultivate vibrant cultural landscapes. These communities will receive grant funding as part of phase two of the pilot program.

In phase one of the program, community teams from the selected regions, consisting of representatives from local government, economic development and the creative sector, participated in a comprehensive two-day training program conducted by the Indiana Communities Institute. The training covered a range of topics, including understanding the positive impacts of arts and creativity on communities, the role of quality of place in talent attraction and retention, diversification of the local economy, identifying community assets and needs, and strategies for community engagement.

The five pilot Creative Convergence communities and their projects are as follows:

  • Bedford will address the need for visual arts experiences by repurposing Little Free Libraries as little free art galleries and installing a permanent public art exhibit case downtown.
  • Dillsboro aims to create a vibrant town center through Dillsboro Arts, renovating an underutilized facility into the multipurpose Dillsboro Arts Creator Space to host various learning experiences and public performances in all arts disciplines.
  • Monticello’s Monticello Arts Beat will create an artistic gateway designed to be welcoming and inclusive to residents and visitors, serving as the first in a series of wayfinding arts installations around the community.
  • Valparaiso will collaborate with the Valparaiso Creative Council (VCC) to conduct an artist needs assessment through focus groups, ensuring that artists’ direct needs align with the city’s projects. The VCC will then use this information to support artists further.
  • Warsaw Public Arts Commission (WPAC) will undertake a project to communicate the economic and community value and impact of the arts and creativity in Warsaw through an education and awareness campaign. The WPAC will leverage this project to encourage additional investments and creative output in the community.

At the end of the pilot period, IAC and Indiana Communities Institute will assess community outcomes for a planned formal rollout of the program in 2024. For more information about the Indiana Creative Convergence Program, contact Indiana Arts Commission Marketing and Communications Director Connie Brahm.

In this Issue

From the President and CEO

State to State

Legislative Update

The Research Digest

Announcements and Resources

More Notes from NASAA




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