Art, culture, and creativity are powerful drivers for inclusive and equitable, artist-led community development. With our ongoing work in the Garfield Park neighborhood just south of Downtown, Big Car works closely with the Garfield Park Neighbors Association, Riley Area Development Corporation, and residents of all backgrounds to help revitalize this area along the Shelby Street corridor between bustling Fountain Square and the University of Indianapolis.
Check out additional excellent coverage of the project in The Indianapolis Star, Indianapolis Business Journal, NUVO Newsweekly, on WRTV6, in the Southside Times, in No Mean City and in The Urban Times.
The Garfield Park area includes a combination of the city’s oldest park and a mixture of stable blocks of mixed-income homes and other blocks — divided from the park by busy Shelby Street — that struggle with crime, vacancy, blight, and issues related to poverty. With most of Big Car’s staff artists living and working in the southeast area, we’re dedicated as neighbors to helping improve the quality of life for all people in this often-overlooked part of the city that also suffered from I-65 slicing through it in the early 1970s.
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To do this, we’re taking a four-prong approach: Opening a large community art space in a neighborhood, a sound art space with a community radio station on the Shelby Street commercial corridor, affordable artist housing, and advocacy for a safer and more walkable village. The project is in motion thanks to the help of a community development block grant from the City of Indianapolis, major grants from Allen Whitehill Clowes Charitable Foundation, Efroymson Family Fund, Nina Mason Pulliam Charitable Trust, Indianapolis Neighborhood Housing Partnership, Lilly Endowment, Christel DeHaan Family Foundation, and the generous support of LISC Indianapolis, Ann and Chris Stack, Howard Schrott and Diana Mutz, Ursula David, Sam Sutphin and Kerry Dinneen, Klipsch, the Nicholas H. Noyes, Jr. Memorial Foundation, Arthur Jordan Foundation, and more. Blackline is also providing us with design help for The Tube renovation.
In order to make this project transformational for the neighborhood and help the city as a whole, we’re raising funds to support these projects and our placemaking work in other neighborhoods and areas of the city. People interested in donating can do so here.
So far, we’ve purchased a 12,000-square-foot manufacturing building called Tube Factory artspace as the anchor for our work. This previously vacant facility built for use by a dairy in 1908 will become a workshop for our citywide placemaking work, a socially engaged art lab, and a space for contemporary exhibitions from local and national artists focused on place, and a large room for community meetings and cultural events. Renovation is still under way at The Tube, which we plan to open on May 6.
We also purchased and are fixing up a storefront building on nearby Shelby Street to house Listen Hear, a sound art space with a community radio station, gallery, and listening room. This space, previously located on the west side, moved to Garfield Park in April of 2016.
Also, Big Car and Riley Area Development Corporation — inspired, in part, by Project ROW Houses in Houston — are transforming empty houses surrounding The Tube which into affordable live and work homes for artists. Boarded up homes will soon become an asset to the neighborhood with involved artists supporting the community and helping make a difference. And we’re working hard to advocate for a safer, more walkable, and connected neighborhood for all.