Artist & Public Life Residency

Our mission is simple, we put people first. 

Located in the Garfield Park neighborhood of Indianapolis, Indiana, this long-term ownership residency program is an innovative approach to supporting artists who use their talents and skills to help drive positive change in the community. Our goal is to allow artists enjoyable and equitable home ownership while they work, in part, to collaborate with other neighbors and boost the culture, creativity, diversity, livability, safety, health, and economy of the local and greater community.

The houses used in this program were previously vacant, some for a long time. No existing residents were displaced. And these efforts are happening in partnership with current residents as a way to work together to further strengthen the neighborhood and keep affordable housing for artists in place. Others are also working on strategies for affordable housing in general in the area.

Our focus is with artists because Big Car Collaborative is an arts organization working in partnership with a nonprofit community development corporation to support the neighborhood where we’re based and, with multiple staff members, live.

For this program, we view the label of artists broadly to include creatives, makers, designers — anyone who considers themselves an artist.  Fields may include — and are not limited to — architecture, culinary art, curation, visual art, public art, furniture, fashion, craft, design, film and video, creative writing and journalism, performing arts, music, theater, placemaking, socially engaged art, etc.

Ultimately, we will be teaming up with resident artists who see their work with the public — and their work for the benefit of the community — as at the core of their practice and their production as artists. We’re looking for artists who want to make a difference, as artists and neighborhood leaders, and see this work in support of the community as truly part of their art.

Who is behind the Artist & Public Life Residency (APLR)?

This is a new partnership between the socially engaged art and placemaking organization Big Car Collaborative (Big Car), nonprofit Riley Area Community Development Corporation (Riley); and Indianapolis Neighborhood Housing Partnership (INHP).

What does it mean to be a resident artist?

• Resident artists will receive research and training support from Big Car staff and others as they’ll be representing our partnership in the community.

• Artists will open their home and/or grounds for some form of public engagement during neighborhood-wide open house or art walks events 4-6 times per year — usually on the First Friday of the month.

• Artists will dedicate 16+ hours per month to working with the public in the community. This time can include time on their own public projects, training and meetings, and time supporting other Big Car or neighborhood programs.

• Artists will have opportunities to participate in Big Car-organized exhibition and collaboration opportunities. We will encourage partnerships between resident artists, visiting artists, other local artists, and our staff artists.

How does it work? 

Qualifying artists will be selected by a panel of experts on community-focused art and housing (some from other cities) and neighbors. The selected artists will co-own the homes with our partnership at a reduced price particular to each home. Just over half of the cost of the home is owned by the partnership (51%). The artist will own the other half of the home (49%) while also committing to building participation and strengthening community through art, along with Big Car, in the Garfield Park neighborhood and the greater Indianapolis community.

This is an investment by both owners in the homes and community, and a way to keep housing affordable in the neighborhood in the long term.

Under this shared ownership model, the artist homeowner will benefit from gaining the equity they pay into home ownership. Both the partnership and the artist homeowner have defined ownership responsibilities under a structure similar to a condominium. Should the artist decide to leave the program and the home, the partnership will purchase the artist homeowner’s investment in the home based on a fixed purchase price. That means the artist homeowner will be able to get what they paid into the house back out should they decide to sell. But, as artists participating in the program, they are not required to sell or move unless they choose to do so.

Should the artist make this choice and decide to move, the partnership will then sell the house to a new resident artist homeowner under the same selection criteria and without the house increasing in cost, keeping housing affordable for artists, long-term, in the neighborhood. In this way, the program works like a land bank of sorts for artist housing. The idea is to keep the houses outside of market forces and maintain an affordable place for artists to be able to be homeowners in the community.

As a hypothetical example, if a house is valued at $80,000, the artist would only need to pay about $40,000 of that (plus costs to the bank for financing) and would be able to stay in the house indefinitely. When selling, neither owner — the artist or the partnership — will profit from an increase in property value. And the artist homeowner isn’t under risk for a decrease in property value. Both owners enter into this with a commitment to keeping affordable homes for artists in the neighborhood, long term.

More details

• Artists will engage in the program, focusing on the Garfield Park neighborhood for their first three years. They then may have a sabbatical from public work if they desire. In the next three years, the artist can propose work for the community more broadly (beyond the neighborhood) if they desire. So the commitment to public work is for seven years with one year off in the middle. This plan and timeframe is negotiable and can be adjusted with each artist resident.

• The resident artist, once in place, must fulfill the aspects of the residency program. If that doesn’t happen, the partnership will purchase the artist’s equity in the house. The partnership will then find another artist for the program.

• APLR is equal opportunity program that encourages people of all backgrounds and beliefs to apply. Should a selected artist homeowner require accessibility accommodations or modifications, the partnership will make this happen.

• The application is open to artists who live anywhere. Indianapolis residents are strongly encouraged to apply.

• APLR is an affordable home ownership opportunity. The artist homeowner will need to meet income qualifications, credit qualifications and will use the home as their primary residence.

• Affordable rental properties are also part of the program and may be discussed with applicant artists as an entry point to the community.

Interested in applying?

Houses are open in multiple phases. The second round of (2) homes available for occupancy are being accepted on a rolling basis between April 24, 2017 – August 11, 2017.

Applicants will be notified by August 14, 2017 via the email listed in the application.

Follow the steps below:

  1. Read the more detailed Terms & Agreements
  2. Complete the Pre-Qualification Survey (Check your email within 24 hours after completion of the survey for the link to the full Artist Application)
  3. Complete the full Artist Application after receiving email link (required $25 fee for full applications)

FOR QUESTIONS email email hidden; JavaScript is required

Learn more by watching this video:

Affordable artist housing in Indianapolis from Big Car Collaborative on Vimeo.

Also check out media coverage of the project here.