First Friday Art Tour organizer IDADA hanging it up

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The Indianapolis Downtown Artists and Dealers Association—better known as IDADA—plans to cease operations by Dec. 31, nearly 15 years after the not-for-profit's founding.

The decision was announced to members Wednesday after the IDADA board voted unanimously to dissolve the group.

Focused on a 20-square-block area of downtown, the 501c(6) organization is best known as the organizer of the IDADA First Friday Art Tour, serving as the central information hub and mapmaker for the monthly evening of galleries openings.

It also curated the Turf IDADA Art Pavilion, the contemporary art exhibition held during Super Bowl XLVI.

The decision to dissolve the group came after a series of board meetings, a survey, a focus group and anguished discussions among the board and members, said Erica Stout, IDADA vice president.

“The point was to define IDADA’s mission going forward, what our role was in the community, and who we were serving," she said. "If we couldn’t define those areas, what were we doing?”

Official IDADA First Friday events are slated to continue through November. President Joy Hernandez, also owner of Full Circle Nine Gallery at the Circle City Industrial Complex, expects individual galleries to continue with such coordinated openings.

“While this is the end of an era, this isn’t a moment for sadness,” the IDADA board said in a written statement. “Our members should celebrate what we’ve created, what we’ve established in this city. The arts won’t be going away, First Friday won’t be going away.”

IDADA was created in 2003 to unify the city’s visual arts community to take advantage of a $6 million Indianapolis Cultural Development Commission initiative funded by the Lilly Endowment and the City of Indianapolis in 2001. Its original First Friday tours featured a shuttle to transport attendees to member galleries.

Over the years, the mission evolved as the organization sought to create networking opportunities for artists, advocate for best practices and facilitate sales.

“What comes next? We don’t know,” continued the board’s statement. “When IDADA started, Facebook was an internet infant, professional websites weren’t as easily created, and YouTube didn’t exist. Who knows what the next 15 years will bring us. But as long as we work together and continue to support each other, and speak loudly when we need to, the Indianapolis arts community will be ready.”

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