Located on a block in both the Garfield Park and Bean Creek neighborhoods on the near southside of Indianapolis, the Artist and Public Life Residency (APLR) program is an innovative and experimental approach to supporting artists who use their talents and skills to help drive positive change in the community. The APLR — taking applications for resident artists now through March 18, 2019 — is a long-term, affordable and community-invested artist home ownership program.
Applicants will be notified if they moved on as semi-finalists by March 25. Finalists will be selected by mid April with home ownership beginning this spring.
In partnership with Riley Area Development and supported by Indianapolis Neighborhood Housing Partnership (INHP), the APLR’s goal is to provide 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. This is a reboot of the program launched two years ago before pausing to work out various aspects of the program and partnership.
Through a community-inclusive selection process, artists of all disciplines can apply to be matched with one of five affordable homes and downpayment assistance. 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 production as artists. We are 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.
An informational meeting and tour of the houses will take place March 11 at 7 p.m. at Tube Factory, 1125 Cruft St. Indianapolis, IN 46203 and will be live on the Tube’s Facebook page. Also, houses in the program will be open for visitors to tour at the monthly First Friday celebration on the block on March 1.
The APLR program works as sort of an exchange, with artists who qualify for the program both financially and in terms of their practice as artists co-owning the homes with the partnership — that way only paying a portion of the cost. The artist homeowner will purchase a 49% ownership interest in the home costing between $49,000 and $72,000. The artist home buyer must meet income qualifications. Qualified artist buyers are required to make less than 80% of the average Marion County income, or less than $43,250 per year for single member household. As part of the exchange — which also includes downpayment assistance — the artist residents commit to working for six years in support of the community as part of their practice as artists.
If the artist should move out in the future, the partnership will buy their 49% share of the house and put it back in the program at the same cost level, ensuring that affordable home ownership sustains. This way, increased property values that might be caused — at least in part — by art-focused community development boosting demand in the neighborhood won’t price out artists on this block currently transforming from mostly vacant to vibrant. The program works as land trust 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 and leaders living in and supporting the community.
The houses in this program were previously vacant, some for a long time, and no existing residents were displaced. These efforts for APLR 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. Our partner, the South Indianapolis Quality of Life Plan organization and others are also working on strategies for affordable housing in general in the area. And we are all teaming up on efforts to avoid the displacement of existing residents.
Throughout this process, we’ve researched other initiatives around the country as well as teamed up with expert volunteer teams — like Ursula David’s Indy Mod Homes and Axis Architecture — to develop this program and renovate five formerly boarded up houses. Indy Mod and Axis adopted one house to transform as a lovely home for artists. These five homes will soon serve as a catalyst for positive activity on a short block that dead ends into an interstate highway that has caused challenges for the neighborhood now anticipating a boost from Indy Go’s Red Line bus rapid transit, opening this summer.
We focus on artists in the APLR program because Big Car Collaborative is an arts organization working in partnership with a nonprofit community development corporation to support the neighborhood where we are based and, with multiple staff members, where we live.
This project is linked to larger efforts on the block funded by a $3 million grant by Lilly Endowment announced in December of 2018. Learn more about that here. Also, this program and process comes — in part — from the research and organizational efforts by Indianapolis-based artist and planner Danicia Monet.
- Resident artists will receive research and training support from Big Car staff and others as they will represent 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 – usually on the First Friday of the month.
- Artists will dedicate 16+ hours per month to work with the public in the community. This includes 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.
- 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 be able to become homeowners while also committing to building participation and strengthening the community through art, along with Big Car, in the South Indianapolis neighborhoods 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.
Read our press release.
Additional keys to this project and the future of our Cruft Street micro community:
• We live in the neighborhood, communicate and work with neighbors as neighbors — and welcome everyone
• Our programming is about social cohesiveness first — with art as an avenue to bringing people together
• Physical improvements artists will help build create needed social infrastructure
• We have already created a cluster of positive energy in a small area — one block built around Tube Factory
• We anticipated and support public transit (the nearby Red Line), walkability, and bike access
• We bought these previously vacant properties early before market forces began to influence price
• We are not displacing anyone with this project and are, instead, moving people with low incomes into long-term affordable housing
• We team up with many partners (some covering our gaps in our expertise)
• We aren’t concerned about profit for reinvestment in the next project
• We’re creating an open/porous cooperative cohousing community vs. a closed one that is for members/owners only (includes shared meals)
• We value active public and third spaces and help create them when needed and when invited
• Artists welcome the idea of supporting the community in exchange for affordable housing and studio affordability
• We track data and gather stories, revising and adjusting along the way