Incorporated in October 1987, the Arts Council of Indianapolis was organized by the Greater Indianapolis Progress Committee (Gipc) as the city’s arts advocacy agency. It is the successor to the Metropolitan Arts Council, which was formed by GIPC in the mid-1960s. The mission of the organization is to champion creativity, innovation, artistic quality, and professional development. The Council works to strengthen the relationship of the arts to economic development and the business community and to broaden public and private support. It also introduces the arts to new audiences.

A single story commercial building with decorative stone-work at the top. A large marquee reads "The Cabaret" vertically and "Arts Council of Indianapolis" horizontally.
Arts Council of Indianapolis and the Cabaret Theater, 2021 Credit: Jenna Auber View Source

Early years at the Arts Council of Indianapolis involved awarding grants to local arts and cultural groups. The organization also produced several reports and publications during this time, including Climate For Creativity: A Vision And Strategy For Indianapolis Arts Tomorrow (1987); Profile Of The Arts In Indianapolis, 1987 (1989); the annual Indianapolis Arts Directory; Arts Education Resource Guide, 1991-1992; and A Community Cultural Strategic Plan For The Arts In Indianapolis (1992).

In September 1995, the council opened the Indianapolis Artsgarden, a glass and steel dome structure attached to Circle Centre Mall. Funded by the lilly endowment, inc. for $12 million, this facility serves as a performance and exhibition space as well as a venue for private and corporate events.

A glass sky bridge and room  connect the ends of the mall over the streets below.
Indianapolis Artsgarden, ca. 1990s Credit: Indiana Historical Society View Source

The Arts Council of Indianapolis also owns and operates Gallery 924, which opened inside the organization’s Pennsylvania Street headquarters in 2010. Created in response to the closure of several locally owned exhibition spaces in the aftermath of the Great Recession, the gallery serves as a venue for contemporary artists in Central Indiana.

Along with its work at the Artsgarden and Gallery 924, the council also oversees large public arts projects around the city. Some of the organization’s most notable assignments include the 46 FOR XLVI murals developed for SUPER BOWL XLVI, the Welcome Race Fans banners developed for the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, and the temporary exhibition program developed for the Indianapolis International Airport.

As of 2020, the Arts Council of Indianapolis is funded by the City of Indianapolis, Indiana Arts Commission, Lilly Endowment, Indianapolis Foundation, and Allen Whitehill Clowes Charitable Foundation. This support enables the organization to continue assisting the city’s arts community through financial grants, professional development tools, resource guides, arts education, and performance and exhibition spaces.

Revised February 2021

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