Public Arts Programs provide more than color

January 18, 2019

Graphic represents opinion of the eight members of the Editorial Board.

As the line for cold treats at Handel’s grows ever-longer, customers gather along the decorated mural. Some take snapshots of each other in front of the colorful mural to post on social media, while a small group of friends walks by on their way to the Nickel Plate Amphitheater for a concert. This is not just the picture of a lively Friday night, but additionally, a well-functioning business model that should be embraced by our community.

An effective city center utilizes the arts, which is why we have seen the unveiling of different projects from the Nickel Plate District [see pp. 12-13] this year.

The city of Fishers has recently shifted our gaze to the likes of Noblesville’s Historic Arts District. There, visitors have access to an artistic community that pre-dates Indianapolis. Locations such as Logan Street Sanctuary, a self-described haven for all artists, and productions like the annual Shakespeare in the Park are major components of the Noblesville culture. The heart of Fishers houses several art galleries and places for people to create their own art. Its homegrown restaurants and unique antique shops give the city charm, but it comes at a cost that does not go unnoticed by taxpayers.

“Percent for Arts” refers to a government funded program that puts 0.5 percent to 2 percent of public building construction funds towards public arts. While only adopted by some states, the University of Massachusetts Amherst claims these kinds of programs, “seem strongly influential for delivering public art to the public, allowing for creative collaborations and the shaping of publicly owned landscapes.”

Fishers does not have a specific government-funded program to support the arts, but Nickel Plate Arts funds many of the projects taking place this year. The organization is a non-profit primarily funded by “Visit Hamilton County” among other groups such as Duke Energy and Imavex. Imavex, a company that specializes in marketing, holds an office in downtown Fishers which would explain their desire to improve the area. While it may appear as money wasted, funds that goes towards bettering public image is never in vain. When these companies invest in projects such as the city murals or the outdoor Amphitheater, they draw in more visitors and therefore revenue.

According to The Travel Industry Association of America, 65 percent of tourists say they traveled to see a cultural, arts, heritage, or historic activity or event while on a trip exceeding 50 miles. Without these new additions, the highlight of Fishers is simply the local Ikea.

Commissioning artists to display their work in Fishers adds to an already proud artistic presence. Top art students in Fishers receive invites to the District Art Show to commemorate their work. In their high school career students are required to continue the arts through their classes. A simple way for students to put this education to use and support an up-and-coming art scene would be to visit these locations themselves or partake in new events the city hosts in the area.

Several student music groups performed over the summer at the first Spark!Fishers, meanwhile Imavex sponsors local art competitions available to high schoolers. When these events are broadcast amongst the community, we are creating a new step in the artistic realm Fishers’ history. If this trend continues, Fishers could invest in larger scale art programs that go beyond street art, which does not just benefit a few pedestrians. It is an investment in our future.

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