Space and community

Space and community

by Cara Courage, Thinker in Residence

I’ve now been able to see all the spaces that Big Car has. After moving from the Service Center base, Big Car can now be found at Lafayette Square, where it has its Listen Hear and Showroom spaces; at Superior supermarket on the Far East Side, in its Galeria Magnifica space; its administrative base at The Hinge in Fountain Square; and Truck Stop, its storage, meeting and gallery space. I have also seen the potential future space for Big Car, the Tube, a factory in the Garfield Park area that presents Big Car with a truly multifunctional space to house all its various activities under and from.

Big Car’s Jim Walker talks about the vision for these spaces in a video tour of them here and a map of past, current and future Big Car spaces can be found below (an image from the No Brakes Big Car exhibition at UIndy).

BC map

Each of the gallery spaces brings with it huge possibility. The spread across the city is a material realisation of Big Car’s ambition to bring art to the people and people to art, literally, across Indy, and between neighbourhoods too. It gives opportunity also for artists to respond variously to each location, to think of the space itself, its setting and the spaces in-between. All the spaces facilitate a variety of uses – from gallery, to meeting space, to rehearsal room, to workshop, to performance space…I saw Showroom operate for the first time as a live venue this week with Hourglass, a participatory dance performance.

Hourglass 07

The spaces also pose a singular challenge at this time of beginning. This challenge is about finding the community around them, getting to know them and creating a programme that will get them over the threshold of the space and keep them coming back. And get them going to events at other Big Car spaces, crossing the neighbourhood boundary. Activity at Galeria Magnifica will soon centre on just this – getting to know who shops at the store it is housed in, getting to know the local area and starting a programme that will bring people together from within the area and then with others through food and storytelling.

Galeria Magnifica 02 crop ip

I can see the role that Big Car has played on Fountain Square over its ten years and it’s told to be by nearly everyone that I have interviewed here. I have come to Big Car at a time when as it enters its second decade that it is starting anew in many respects – the offer presented by the new spaces a creative watershed. Knowing Big Car as I am getting to, the challenges it faces will be tackled with creativity and tenacity and over time, from these early days and from its wealth of experience, these challenges will transform into opportunities and into relationships, programmes and events.

I get the sense too that Indy may be in a similar position as Big Car as again I am told that Indy is undergoing something of a cultural renaissance. I can certainly sense that Indy is looking at community afresh, seeing a resurgence in community initiatives city-wide and a local design, arts and culture infrastructure that is self-supporting and generating.

For both Big Car and Indy, its shared concerns with community, the space of the city and the role of the arts in this, these are very interesting – and exciting – times.


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