At Big Car, our art projects and programs include and serve people of all ages and backgrounds. We bring art to people with the purpose of sparking creativity and, building on that, helping improve quality of life. We strive, first and foremost, to connect and collaborate with people. Everybody deserves access to culture, creativity, and opportunities to spend time together in great public spaces and places.
Who are “we”? Twelve talented and creative staff members (eight full-time, four part-time), a dedicated and active board of directors, and a loose collective of additional artists and community leaders who contribute in a variety of ways to projects and programs. In 2016, this group is teaming up with many partners — with the support of an incredible group of generous local and national donors — to bring the following artist-led, community-based cultural experiences in Indianapolis:
Neighborhood Initiatives: Our place-based initiatives enliven places, leverage collective impact, and engage people with their neighbors, long term. Our next big project will focus our creative placemaking efforts in the heart of the Garfield Park neighborhood when we open our new, permanent exhibition area, workshop, and community space, Tube Factory. A critical expansion of our work in this neighborhood will be the creation of a community of affordable homes for artists (in partnership with Riley Area Development) near The Tube. Also in 2016, our Listen Hear sound art space and retail incubator will feature art exhibits and events and serve as home to our low-power FM community- and art-focused radio station. And our mobile outreach with the Wagon of Wonders will continue on the Far Eastside in collaboration with the Indianapolis Public Library’s Bookmobile and in a new area, the Near Westside, as part of the Local Initiative Support Corporation’s comprehensive creative placemaking effort, Great Places 2020. And we’ll be working on additional exciting creative placemaking projects with Near West and LISC in the spring and summer.
Creative Placemaking: Our design and facilitation of experiences, spaces and materials enables partners, neighbors, and other members of the public to identify and maximize their assets, tell a compelling story, build identity, and connect with each other. Building with Big Car — In summer 2015, 12 teens from the TeenWorks program — a summer employment and college readiness program serving low-income youth ages 15-18 in Marion County — were mentored by Big Car teaching artists. Teens experienced creative placemaking firsthand by working together to create furniture and sculptures made from invasive honeysuckle harvested from Bean Creek, an overgrown waterway in Garfield Park. They learned how to design, build, and paint the sculptures, many of which were used in the landscape design at Spark Monument Circle. In 2016, we’ll be working with TeenWorks to pilot our youth-oriented public programs at our new Tube Factory artspace workshop and in public places in the city. We continue to work as creative placemakers with Reconnecting to Our Waterways, a series of projects and programs that activate neighborhood areas near our city’s streams and rivers. And we’re excited to team up with artist Mary Miss and a variety of partners in support of the Streamlines art and science project also near our city’s waterways.
Citywide Collective Projects: Our citywide initiatives on livability foster a culture of innovation and generate creative energy in Indianapolis. Spark Monument Circle: With funding from a NEA Our Town grant in partnership with the City of Indianapolis, Big Car led an 11-week creative placemaking project in the city’s main public plaza, Monument Circle, invigorating the space with people-centric infrastructure and daily artistic and community programming reaching 45,000 visitors. The project featured 300-plus varied small events and happenings including weekly artist-led walks, musical performances, and opportunities to get creative. Check out all the numbers presented in a fun and graphical way here. In 2016, we plan to produce Spark again in partnership with the City of Indianapolis (details coming soon). Also, we’re excited to team up, this year, with Riley Area Development to commission a mural in a prominent place honoring Indianapolis poet Mari Evans who turns 97 this year. And, working with a variety of partners, we’ll again help bring TEDxIndianapolis back for its fifth year.
Please check out our year-end report and video if you missed all of the details on our 2015 accomplishments. It was a great year!