Arts Council of Indianapolis
Supporter of Indy’s Art and Culture
For 40 years, the Indy Arts Council has led the city’s arts advocacy and public art initiatives.
The arts are alive here in Indianapolis, thanks in part to the Indy Arts Council. Even if you don’t know them by name, every Indy resident has seen the fruits of their labor. From the five-story mural of Kurt Vonnegut on Mass Ave to the annual Art & Soul Festival at the Indianapolis Artsgarden, the Indy Arts Council creates opportunities for artists to express their creativity and enrich their community.
The Indy Arts Council was established in 1987, after the success of the Pan American Arts Festival. When the 10th Pan American Games came to Indianapolis, Mayor Bill Hudnut called on the community to host a once-in-a-lifetime arts festival. Nearly 40 local arts organizations produced more than 200 events—all building up to the opening ceremony for the games.
At the time, the Indy Arts Council was an arm of the Greater Indianapolis Progress Committee (GIPC). But after the Pan American Arts Festival, the Arts Council was formally incorporated as the city’s main arts agency.
In the words of Robert D. Beckmann, Jr., the first Board Chair of the Indy Arts Council: “New audiences were reached. New works of art were created; and most appealing, new ways were designed to continue our arts advocacy long after the temporary stimulus of ‘Pan Amania.’”
Nearly 40 years later, the Indy Arts Council continues to lead the city’s arts advocacy and public art initiatives. In partnership with the City of Indianapolis Annual Grants Program, the Arts Council supports nearly 80 nonprofit arts and cultural organizations—from Newfields, to the Philippines Cultural Community Center to Arte Mexicano en Indiana.
But no matter the event, their core mission remains the same: to foster meaningful engagement in the arts by nurturing a culture where artists and arts organizations thrive. The Arts Council ensures that arts and culture are naturally interwoven into the fabric of civic life, especially during large sporting events like the Pan Am Games.
Over the years, the Indy Arts Council has organized events in conjunction with the Indianapolis 500, Super Bowl XLVI, NCAA Final Fours, and the 2021 Men’s College Basketball Tournament. These events are valuable opportunities for local artists, showcasing their world-class talent on the global stage.
After all, Indy’s art scene is essential for attracting top talent and increasing our international reputation. That’s why the Arts Council also offers innovative grant programs, such as the Creative Renewal Arts Fellowship and the DeHaan Artists of Distinction. These programs help foster artists’ careers while inspiring them to stay connected to Indianapolis, even as many achieve national and international recognition.
The Indy Arts Council has also been a major supporting organization for The International Center since 2008. In honor of The Center’s 50th Anniversary, the Arts Council is partnering with the Indianapolis Airport Authority and the Herron School of Art & Design to create a commemorative sculpture. This new artwork will welcome visitors to the Indianapolis International Airport while celebrating The International Center’s legacy of service.
“Just as The International Center serves as the connective tissue for business and civic engagement, we serve in that role from an arts and cultural perspective,” said Julie Goodman, President & CEO of the Indy Arts Council. “That is why our relationship with The International Center is so meaningful and complementary. We share their vision of making sure Indianapolis is welcoming to—and reflective of—all the cultures here.”
Back in 1987, the Indy Arts Council was built around a strategic vision—a plan that would pave the way for decades of arts advocacy in Indianapolis. Now, the Arts Council is working with community stakeholders to create a new strategic plan for the future of Indy, as the organization works towards “A Full Creative Life for All.”