Located in the Garfield Park neighborhood 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 — still in the development stage but close to opening — is a long-term, affordable and community-invested artist home ownership program. In partnership with Riley Area Development and supported by Indianapolis Neighborhood Housing Partnership (INHP), our 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.
Please note: our application process for artist buyers is currently on pause while we team up to finish extensive repair work on five houses already purchased by the partnership.
The houses to be used 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. Others are also working on strategies for affordable housing in general in the area.
We focus on artists 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.
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.
Check out media coverage of the project here.
- 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 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.
- Our strategy is to create a land bank of sorts for affordable, neighborhood-focused artist housing. The idea is to keep the houses outside of market forces and maintain an affordable place for artists to be homeowners in the community.
Additional keys to this project and the future of our 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
• The physical improvements 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 supported public transit, 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 housing
• We team up with many partners (some cover 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
• 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
Learn more about the APLR affordable artist housing program by watching this video: