A forecast of mostly sunny skies and 70-degree temperatures is helping to drive advance ticket sales to this weekend’s Broad Ripple Art Fair.
The event, which regularly draws upward of 20,000 people, can account for 20 percent of the Indianapolis Art Center’s annual revenue. Nice weather—and generous sponsors—are keys to its success.
Fortunately, this year’s fair should feature both, said Carter Wolf, the art center’s CEO.
“Ninety percent of our ticket sales are always at the gate, or last minute,” he said. “This year we’ve had a real rush this week.”
Fifth Third Bank and One America have returned as major sponsors, along with about 15 additional financial supporters.
Celebrating its 40th year, the fair is, well, faring better than some other festivals that have been canceled or hurt recently by the economic downturn. Because it kicks off the local festival season, the Broad Ripple event could serve as a bellwether for others.
“It’s still a difficult environment for fund raising,” said David Lawrence, president of the Arts Council of Indianapolis. “But we have seen, and I’m hearing anecdotally, that [arts groups] may be seeing the light at the end of the tunnel.”
Both locally and nationally, shows have been canceled because of a dearth of sponsors.
In Indianapolis, Storytelling Arts of Indiana and the Irvington Guild of Artists canceled their events last year. The Hoosier Storytelling Festival, typically held in September, was called off after the not-for-profit realized a drop in grant funding would make it impossible to absorb a loss.
The Irvington artists cited the “economic climate” in canceling last year’s Walk in the Park Art Fair at Ellenberger Park. The guild is focusing on bringing the fair back this August.
Meanwhile, Lawrence credited the work of the Indianapolis Art Center staff for hosting a fair that’s become a “true destination,” he said.
The staff contracts with an independent panel of four local artists to anonymously select who will be selling their work at the Broad Ripple event. This year the judges chose 225 artists from 730 applicants nationwide, said Wolf, noting the variety of artists, sculptors, potters and jewelers.
“We pride ourselves on quality and variety,” he said. “And the artists appreciate that, too, because they know they’re showing with other people of the same quality.”
The most obvious difference in the art fair this year is that it’s become a two-day event instead of just one. Wolf said organizers decided to extend the event to Sunday to give people an additional day to browse, which benefits the artists. They pay a fee for booth space but keep all revenue from sales.
Attendees on Saturday can get a wristband that gets them in for free on Sunday. Tickets at the gate are $15 for adults and $2 for children ages 3 to 12.
Parking is available at Glendale Mall, Broad Ripple High School and Broad Ripple Park, with free shuttle service.
“It’s a rain or shine event,” Wolf said. “So this is just an ideal year. It’s going to be beautiful.”