The Arts Council of Indianapolis and the Indianapolis Cultural Development Commission recently launched a campaign to encourage individuals and businesses to buy art from local artists. I couldn't agree more with the message.
In addition to the "Be Indypendent, Buy Indy Art" stickers you'll no doubt see all over town soon, the campaign includes a Web site, www.beindypendent.org, with a downloadable "how to" guide, plus links to the Arts Council's artist database that includes the work of more than 400 visual artists. If you think you have to go to New York or Chicago to buy high-quality art, all you have to do is check out the artwork on the database to see that you can find great work here in Indianapolis.
This campaign comes at an opportune time. The momentum our cultural community has seen over the past several years has been phenomenal. From publicart exhibitions like the bronze sculptures and moving light displays in downtown Indy to the growth of cultural districts, the city's ongoing transformation virtually guarantees that cultural development will be an enduring legacy of Mayor Peterson's administration.
The benefits of these initiatives extend throughout the community and add value to business as well. Our firm's art experience started a few years ago when we were developing an apartment community in Louisville. In an effort to distinguish this high-end project from others, we commissioned an Indiana artist to create a life-size sculpture of a thoroughbred to mark the entrance of the neighborhood. In a community that's steeped in horse racing, the sculpture was an immediate hit.
After this experience, we began looking for other opportunities to incorporate art into our work. From the resulting projects of varying sizes, budgets and locations, we've learned many lessons. And so, as I challenge you all to make art a part of your business plans, I offer these three lessons.
Form relationships with artists and galleries and get them involved early in the project. One of the most exciting components of the new Gramercy project in downtown Carmel is the many and varying pieces of public art that are a part of it. We're planning to work primarily with Indiana artists, and we're already working with Indianapolis-based Second Globe Studios even though we're still in the design phase. By treating the artists as key partners, we benefit not only from their creative works, but also from their creative thinking.
Appreciate the value art can have. Art is an investment in quality. Yes, it adds cost to the project, but it's a cost that pays dividends through increased customer retention and satisfaction.
Recognize the "fun factor." Not to be overlooked is that fact that buying art from someone you've met should be fun for all involved. Picking out the artwork for our company's new corporate headquarters was a great experience. We worked with one of the Indianapolis' most noted painters, C.W. Mundy, and, in a process that was invigorating and inspiring, we selected three absolutely stunning paintings as well as abstract pieces for the building exterior.
Of course, as a business case can be made for buying art-and, more specifically, local art-I still must acknowledge that art is not only good for business, it's good for our community. More artists working and making a living here means we have more character in the community. That character makes Indianapolis more interesting and makes it more likely that people from other places will want to come here to visit, work and live.
I encourage you to join me in supporting artists and buying art whenever possible from Indianapolis artists. For more information, check out www.beindypendent.org.
Chambers is president and CEO of Buckingham Cos., an Indianapolis-based real estate development, construction and management company.