Polis Center's Spirit and Place Festival wants place on your schedule

Back to TopCommentsE-mailPrintBookmark and Share
On The Beat Industry News In Brief

The civic festival Spirit and Place, which runs Nov. 5-16, has been a fixture of the fall season since 1996, but organizers are still trying to explain to Indianapolis residents what it’s all about.

So what is a “civic festival?” It’s a series of 40 events in which musicians, writers, scientists and historians, among others, offer their interpretations of a given theme. This year, it’s “inspired places.”

If Spirit and Place seems more New Yorker than People, here’s why: The whole thing began with an academic research project on “the relationship between urban culture and religion,” Director Pam Blevins Hinkle explained. The Polis Center at IUPUI, which conducted the research, decided to cap the project off in 1996 with a “public conversation” on the topic. John Updike and Kurt Vonnegut, who appeared at the event, happened to be two of the most influential writers of the 20th century.


The unscripted conversation between Updike and native son Vonnegut was wildly popular, Hinkle said, and it spawned an entire festival.

This year, Spirit and Place has a $340,000 budget, most of which goes toward promotion and staging the public conversation. The marquee event this year features former four-term Indianapolis Mayor Bill Hudnut and John Fetterman, the mayor of Braddock, Pa., who won election in 2005 by a single vote.

The Polis Center continues to be the lead organizer, employing two full-time staffers to work on the festival. Lilly Endowment, the Allen Whitehill Clowes Charitable Foundation, the Central Indiana Community Foundation and local congregations are the main underwriters. Many participating organizations schedule and pay for their own events.

“We are hard to get your hands around,” Hinkle said. “There’s nothing else like us in the country. Ours is unique. The larger purpose is to bring us together. Our mission is to promote civic engagement and imagination.”



Post a comment to this story

We reserve the right to remove any post that we feel is obscene, profane, vulgar, racist, sexually explicit, abusive, or hateful.
You are legally responsible for what you post and your anonymity is not guaranteed.
Posts that insult, defame, threaten, harass or abuse other readers or people mentioned in IBJ editorial content are also subject to removal. Please respect the privacy of individuals and refrain from posting personal information.
No solicitations, spamming or advertisements are allowed. Readers may post links to other informational websites that are relevant to the topic at hand, but please do not link to objectionable material.
We may remove messages that are unrelated to the topic, encourage illegal activity, use all capital letters or are unreadable.

Messages that are flagged by readers as objectionable will be reviewed and may or may not be removed. Please do not flag a post simply because you disagree with it.

Sponsored by

facebook - twitter on Facebook & Twitter

Follow on TwitterFollow IBJ on Facebook:
Follow on TwitterFollow IBJ's Tweets on these topics:
Subscribe to IBJ
  1. These liberals are out of control. They want to drive our economy into the ground and double and triple our electric bills. Sierra Club, stay out of Indy!

  2. These activist liberal judges have gotten out of control. Thankfully we have a sensible supreme court that overturns their absurd rulings!

  3. Maybe they shouldn't be throwing money at the IRL or whatever they call it now. Probably should save that money for actual operations.

  4. For you central Indiana folks that don't know what a good pizza is, Aurelio's will take care of that. There are some good pizza places in central Indiana but nothing like this!!!

  5. I am troubled with this whole string of comments as I am not sure anyone pointed out that many of the "high paying" positions have been eliminated identified by asterisks as of fiscal year 2012. That indicates to me that the hospitals are making responsible yet difficult decisions and eliminating heavy paying positions. To make this more problematic, we have created a society of "entitlement" where individuals believe they should receive free services at no cost to them. I have yet to get a house repair done at no cost nor have I taken my car that is out of warranty for repair for free repair expecting the government to pay for it even though it is the second largest investment one makes in their life besides purchasing a home. Yet, we continue to hear verbal and aggressive abuse from the consumer who expects free services and have to reward them as a result of HCAHPS surveys which we have no influence over as it is 3rd party required by CMS. Peel the onion and get to the root of the problem...you will find that society has created the problem and our current political landscape and not the people who were fortunate to lead healthcare in the right direction before becoming distorted. As a side note, I had a friend sit in an ED in Canada for nearly two days prior to being evaluated and then finally...3 months later got a CT of the head. You pay for what you get...