The ‘Times’: Nothing in Indy

May 13, 2008
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Readers of the New York Times received their “Summer Stages” preview in Sunday’s Arts & Leisure section.

The annual piece offers a rundown of what’s happening around the country in Dance, Theater, Pop/Jazz and Classical Music. And while the Cleveland and Cincinnati Orchestras, the Opera Theatre of St. Louis, and Cincinnati Opera get nods, there’s not a mention of anything in Indiana, let alone Indianapolis.

In an earlier blog we talked about whether outside attention is important to Indy arts. Here it seems like the omission says something.

So what does it say?

Your thoughts?
  • Lou,

    I noticed that also. The event that I thought might get a nod was the Indy Jazz Fest. Other than maybe the ISO's Prairie gig, I can't think of any multiple performance events or festivals in Indianapolis during the summer that could be included. Am I forgetting something?

  • From an internal PR standpoint, did we even pitch the NYT? If so, did we pitch the right story? We have to work hard for attention from New York. Some organizations might find the attention nice but not necessary - they need more local coverage to fill seats.
  • I don't care about whether or not the New York Times knows what is going on here in Indiana (although I get why other people do.)

    However, a Summer Stages-type thing that I am looking forward to this summer is the new, free, arts sampler series scheduled to happen at White River Park.

    Several music groups are participating, I think, but the part I am most looking forward to is the Heartland Actors' Repertory Theatre's (HART's) presentation of a Shakespeare piece starring Chuck Goad and Ryan Artzberger, but right now I can't find the postcard that tells about it.

    Lou, do you know the details?

    Hope Baugh
  • PS - And the 4th annual Indy Fringe Festival in August! That is something that not every town offers, but which is also part of a world-wide trend that started in Edinburgh, Scotland.

    I had so much fun last year that I am taking a week off from my day job this year so that I can go to ALL of the live theatre shows and as many of the films, visual art exhibits, and Fringe Next (younger artists) shows as I can.

    Hope Baugh
  • Info here for the White River State Park free summer lineup:

    This is copied directly from that press release:

    White River State Park Family Arts Series lineup for 2008:

    Saturday, June 14, 2:30 p.m. – Indianapolis Children’s Choir Concert
    Indianapolis Children's Choir (ICC) – featuring the Cantantes Angeli and Bel Canto choirs.

    *One of the final concerts before ICC singers leave for South Africa.

    Saturday, June 28, 2:30 p.m. – Indianapolis Chamber Orchestra and Bill Harley
    Join the ICO and Grammy Award-winning children’s artist Bill Harley for an afternoon of stories and music. This performance is made possible with support from the Indianapolis Cultural Development Commission and RW Armstrong.

    Saturday, July 12, 1 and 4 p.m. – Orquesta Bravo!
    Latino Celebration with multiple performances, featuring salsa band Orquesta Bravo!, Stacie Sandoval Tropical Jazztet, Mariachi band, dancing, free dance lessons, food and more. Hosted in partnership with the International Center of Indianapolis.

    Saturday, July 26, 6 and 8 p.m. – Dance Kaleidoscope
    Dance Kaleidoscope Family Performance. ”The Dance Show” – this interactive educational program defines dance as shapes moving through space to a beat. At 8 p.m., Dance Kaleidoscope will present a one-hour collection of diverse, athletic and exciting dances – perfect for the entire family.

    Saturday, August 2, 2:30 p.m. – Shakespeare on the Canal
    Shakespeare on the Canal – Merchant of Venice, presented by the Heartland Actors' Repertory Theatre (HART). Set in an outdoor amphitheater by the river, HART hopes to become a summer destination, sharing the wit and wisdom of Shakespeare.

    Saturday, August 23, 2:30 p.m. – Asante Children’s Theater
    Asante Children’s Theater presents a storytelling extravaganza with African drums and dance. You’ll tap your toes as we tickle your mind with a fun fable by the river at the Park.

    Sunday, September 14, 2:30 p.m. – Indianapolis Opera in the Park
    A perfect way to experience some of the world’s greatest music in a uniquely accessible and informal outdoor setting. Indianapolis Opera in the Park features familiar opera hits, the best of Broadway, as well as musical highlights of Indianapolis Opera’s upcoming season. A real community event for all ages!

    Friday, September 26, 5 p.m. – The Quebe Sisters Band: A WestFest Celebration Concert
    When Grace, Sophia and Hulda Quebe (pronounced kway-bee) take to a stage, audiences marvel. When the girls sing their vintage-style three-part harmony, audiences are blown away. Add the rhythm guitar of Joey McKenzie and the upright bass of Drew Phelps, and the Quebe Sisters band becomes a force of nature. Whether it's a Western swing classic, a swing standard, country shuffle or a Western anthem, the girls are phenomenal.
  • It will be said in many of these responses:

    Poor promotion, poor promotion and poor promotion.........
  • Uh... The Cleveland Orchestra is one of the 2 or 3 best orchestras in the world - and plays in one of the handful of finest outdoor venues in the country during the Summer. They are NY Times darlings... so their mention should hardly make Indy feel slighted... (though Indy needs to realize there is NO culture in town...)
  • dwirth:

    If there were NO culture in town, then this blog would have no reason to exist. Granted, there are plenty of blogs that don't have any reason to exist, but that's another story. This one, and the IBJ pages it goes with, chronicling the active arts and culture of Indy, has plenty of ground to cover. This is especially true when the Star is falling down on the job and NUVO's readership consists largely of folks who are already inclined to investigate the arts on their own.

    That's part of the problem: If arts organizations can't even cajole the local rags to cover events, the power of national recognition isn't going to help a lot in terms of getting butts in seats and paying patrons at the door. Of course, there's an opportunity there as well: sending an additional press release to the NYT or other national media surely couldn't hurt anything (another email costs no money), and if an out-of-town media source latches on and covers your event, that's leverage to use with the local folks if they're not doing their part.

    (Case in point: When HART - the same HART presenting THE MERCHANT OF VENICE this summer - premiered MIDWESTERN HEMISPHERE recently, we got ourselves a write-up in American Theatre magazine, simply because we sent a press release and they were interested. We still didn't get a review in the Star, but we did get a PREview. It's a start.)

    We could also use a hand from the city and state chambers of commerce, tourism organizations, and others to help build a stronger impression of Indy's cultural identity for the rest of the world. They're doing their bit to make sure our arts offerings are included in things to do in Indianapolis, but it could be a lot more front and center. We've successfully branded ourselves as a sports town, but even that took a concerted, collaborative, and aggressive effort. There's no reason we couldn't do the same for our arts and culture - or at least do it better and louder than it's being done now.

    Meanwhile, the arts organizations that do exist in Indy are plugging away, trying to do our part to destroy the impression that even folks who live here have of our hometown being one with no culture. (Could we use more? Always.) It's hard work, but someone has to do it if we want our city to have a heart and soul that's bigger than the confines of the Speedway or the Lucas Oil Staduim.

    Brian G. Hartz
    Board Vice President
    Heartland Actors' Repertory Theatre
  • Follow-up: To head sports-lovers off at the pass, I love the Colts and the 500, too. We can have that and a lot more. Chicago has the Cubs, Sox, Bears, and Bulls . . . and also the Art Institute, Ravinia, Second City, and the Steppenwolf. Our shoulders in Indy can be just as broad.

  • Brian -

    Didn't expect to strike a nerve like that - but realize the struggle you must have in the cornfields. As a born/bred Hoosier amateur thesp, I have certainly acted on Indiana stages - so feel a kinship, I'd guess.

    However, I should note that regardless of how my no culture comment was taken, it most certainly was not spoken by a current Indy or Indianapolis resident. In fact, I view the board from afar to see just how provencial the thinking is in your lillywhite/stay north of 82nd Street or die/wives with big Southern hair/strip mall on every corner/the Monon-is-greater-than-sliced-bread/wow - we have a canal and didn't even know it - kind of way.. I've learned so much being exposed to a non-homogeneous world outside of IN. My 4 northeast side siblings and mother provide some of the greatest laughs... Ha, ha, ha...

    Frankly, when Indianapolis stands up and admits that it really isn't the 12th largest city in the country (actually the 32nd largest metro area - the real important factor) - but a city that does need to do a lot more to actually BE big - not just look big on paper if you hold it just right - it might get somewhere... When it stops drooling over what Chicago has and starts worrying about itself, it might pull itself up and actually make something of itself. True big cities don't compare themselves with other cities... They go and and do - and become big cities themselves...

    Indy has a lot of work to do... When it gets a baseball team - the true measure of a big city - then it might have the right kind of culture to build on... - even though, yes, that's a sport, not the arts...
  • Indy has a lot of work to do… When it gets a baseball team - the true measure of a “big” city - then it might have the right kind of culture to build on… - even though, yes, that’s a sport, not the arts…

    Huh? What does baseball have to do with anything? Non sequitur.
  • Trust us Dwirth, as born and bred hoosiers who still make Indy home, we do know about cornfields. I even grew up on a farm - wow, and yet, I'm an avid reader, enjoy theater and art, and actually think! Geez, who would've thought we ignorant, barefoot hillbillies could do that! We may not be the cultural capital of the U.S., but look how far the arts community has come in the last 10 years or so. It's because of people like Brian and Lou who are commited to spending their own time working on it. When people are negative and they stereotype all of us into the types of chatagories you listed above, that's just petty and small-minded. Do those people exist here? yes. Do they represent all of us? no.

    Um, we have a baseball team. It may not be major but who cares? I enjoy the Indians and could care less whether they're major or minor. And if your true measure of a big city is a baseball team, then maybe your view is skewed. In my opinion sports is in an entirely different category than the arts.

    If you think Indy has no culture then why are you even reading this blog? Take a hike if all you have to spew is negativity.
  • When I read dwirth's comments, I laughed and thought, Hey, look! Our first troll!

    I agree with Brian's and Firewoman's responses.

    However, I also agree with part of the following from dwrith:

    When it (Indy) stops drooling over what Chicago has and starts worrying about itself, it might pull itself up and actually make something of itself. True big cities don’t compare themselves with other cities… They go and and do - and become big cities themselves…

    Bigness is not all that attractive or interesting to me. I have lived in both New York City and Tokyo, Japan. They were both very exciting, and I treasure my years in both places, but for the long term, I would much rather live here.

    But I agree with dwirth that we (Indy) should concentrate on becoming our best, most authentic self, not endlessly wishing we were Chicago or New York or any place else.

    Hope Baugh
  • Dwirth, glad you're gone.
  • Some posts seem to strike nerves and sensibilities -- I'll bite.

    First off, it may sound profound, but Indy is what it is. The ISO is a fine orchestra with a nice summer series in a nice venue. Cincy's opera and Cleveland's orchestra -- are way above par. I've lived there, done that.

    One writer mentioned the Fringe Festival -- you're right, had the NYT known about it, it may have made the cut. Certainly it's innovative, different, and growing, unlike dime-a-dozen jazz festivals and outdoor symphony performances.

    Secondly, as for the post that set this off -- thank you very much -- and geez, get an attitude adjustment! Like I said, Indy is what it is, I hope you live in a place that makes you happy.

    Size, in the arts, usually matters. You think all 18 million New Yorkers are cultural mavens? Ever been to Queens, Jersey? Chicago? Beyond the northshore and the tourist district, it's one big midwestern town, like us. Get real, Indy comparing itself to Chicago is like Chicago comparing itself to New York, London, Paris, Rome, Barcelona...get my drift? Every body does it, everybody spins their wheels. Don't worry, be happy.

    Per capita, I would not be surprised if Indy had more accessability and participation in the arts as their brethren in the really big city. Per capita!!

    Yes, I wish we had a stronger base and history in the traditional arts like they do in old river cities like Cincinnati, St. Louis, even Louisville, but where Indy sometimes comes up lacking, we sometimes make up for in new venues and disciplines. And please, please do not discount all that Bloomington offers. That cultural bastion an hour away would be considered a suburb in bigger burgs.

    Finally, I'm not sure what big league baseball has to do with a lively cultural scene. What league does Sante Fe play in? It would be nice to have an MLB team here, but in the bigs, size...and geography, matters. Given their fan attendance and population growth compared to our's, Pittsburgh or Cincinnati should relocate to Indy any decade now.
  • Can we say neurological, societal inferiority complex? Look. Take care of your pot-holes, develop commuter rail, clean up crime, graffitti ridden neighborhoods. Essentially, take care of your back yard and if there's something 'going on here' that has locals excited and pleased others will take notice. For people that are supposed to be 'down to earth', Indpl's' mentality resembles a property that hasn't been mowed for 2-years with piles of garbage and junk and a newly painted house. Hey, look at me! Well, people do. Do we perceive our reality as others do? If not, we need to start taking a much clearer, objective look--inside.
  • George,

    What city do you know of that has no potholes or graffiti? Every place that has people and cars will have those two things. Yes, we're behind the times on commuter rail, but we're working on it. Do you live here or not? If you do and you hate it so much, perhaps you should take a deeper look inside yourself and decide to move - possibly to that wonderful urban utoptia lacking pot holes and graffiti. Send us a postcard, won't you?
  • Give 'em hell, Firewoman. I'm with you all the way.

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