Krzysztof Urbanski, Music Director of the Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra. Photo by Laura Neidig.

Picture this: Indianapolis, minus the art. Mass Ave, Fountain Square, Monument Circle—all devoid of art galleries and concert halls. Stages are dark because there are no actors, dancers, nor musicians to perform on them. All the murals and public art on the street corners are gone. The Cultural Trail, itself, was never built because there was no culture for its byways to connect to. Even the military statues that dot the downtown area would be gone.

I’m pretty sure none of us would want to live in a city like that.

Luckily, we don’t have to! Start With Art, the official kick-off to the arts season in Indy, is hosted each year by the Arts Council of Indianapolis. This annual fundraiser serves as a fun way to thank supporters, staff and patrons. It also supports the mission of the arts council: “To foster meaningful engagement in the arts by nurturing a culture where artists and arts organizations thrive.”

Life’s Fundamentals and The Arts

We all thrive when exposed to an environment rich in in the arts. The founders of our state knew this. Simply walk into the rotunda of the Indiana Statehouse and visit the Values of Civilization sculpture group. These eight statues (works of art, themselves) represent what Indiana’s founders thought to be paramount to a successful society. Art holds a place among other fundamentals, such as commerce, agriculture, and law.

“Arts make life go down easy,” said Angela Brown, Indianapolis native, Broadway star and world renowned opera singer. I’d have to agree! The arts take what is poignant about life—both the good and the bad—and showcases it for all to see. A stunning painting, an inspiring one-man play, a dancer moving in ways that should be impossible, or a choir singing—these take the rough edges off of our day and allows us to think of new possibilities.

It’s fortunate that Indianapolis has an impressive array of art offerings. We are home to one of the few full-time orchestras in the country, have our own opera company, a variety of choral groups, a myriad of fine theaters, dance offerings and world class art museums. Seasonal festivals such as Indy Fringe Festival, Jazz Fest, Heartland Film Festival, and the International Violin Competition of Indianapolis add sparkle to the year-round activities.

I know we’re a sports town; there’s no getting around it. We have several professional teams, sports organizations, and that little race in May that’s defined our city. However, despite their different fan clubs, arts and sports are quite similar. Each allows us to feel the depths and peaks of human emotion. If you’re a sports fan at heart, you’ll be surprised how much the arts will move you.

“Arts make life go down easy…”
—Angela Brown

An Artistic Challenge You Can’t Refuse

So, I offer a challenge: Pick up a show you know you’ll love. Then try something you’ve never considered. Visit our world class arts organizations, as well as the little theater you’ve never heard of before. Or just stop in an art gallery on your way home from work. Go ahead—start with art!