Arts Council Launches National Partnership with Kennedy Center and Announces Major Fellowship Awards at Start with Art

Indy Chamber News Archives

INDIANAPOLIS, INDIANA–Last Friday, the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts announced Indianapolis, Indiana as the 18th site for Any Given Child, a program that creates a long-range arts education plan for students in grades K-8. The program is led by the Arts Council of Indianapolis in partnership with Indianapolis Public Schools, the Office of the Mayor of the City of Indianapolis, and facilitated by the Kennedy Center. The announcement was made Friday before an audience of 1,000 local arts and business leaders at the Arts Council’s Start with Art luncheon. The Arts Council also announced the first two recipients of the $100,000 Transformational Impact Fellowships, the 2016 Robert D. Beckmann, Jr. Emerging Artist Fellowships, and the 2015 ARTI Award recipients.

About Any Given Child

Any Given Child seeks to bring access, balance, and equity to each student’s arts education, using an affordable model that combines the existing resources of Indianapolis Public Schools, the Arts Council of Indianapolis including local arts and community organizations, and the Kennedy Center. With the assistance of expert consultation services provided by Kennedy Center staff and other professionals, community leaders will develop a long-range plan for arts education that is tailor-made for the school district and community of Indianapolis. 

“In the City of Indianapolis, education–including arts education–is viewed as a foundation for creating opportunities and strengthening our community. With the support of the Arts Council and Indianapolis Public Schools, the Any Given Child program will transform the lives of Indianapolis youth through the power of the arts,” said Mayor Gregory A. Ballard.

By working with other local arts organizations and using existing resources, the program aims to minimize administrative overhead, thus remaining affordable. The Kennedy Center covers the majority of the cost and requires sites to contribute $25,000 toward the first four years of the program. For Indianapolis, this funding came in the form of $30,000 from generous individual contributions through United Way of Central Indiana. The first phase of the program consists of a comprehensive audit of existing arts education resources and needs assessment facilitated by Kennedy Center staff and consultants. A review of the community and the school system will reveal what arts education resources currently exist and where opportunities for improvement exist. Based on this information, an assembled team of civic, community, and philanthropic leaders will create a plan to bring more access to arts education for all K-8 students. The audit process will begin in October and takes approximately nine months.

“The Any Given Child program is a perfect opportunity for those of us in the arts community in Indianapolis to affect positive and lasting change in the arts in the Indianapolis Public School system,” said Dave Lawrence, President & CEO of the Arts Council of Indianapolis. “The Arts Council board and staff stand ready to lead the rest of the arts community in transforming arts education in our largest school system in Marion County.”

During phase two of the program, a committee of community members makes recommendations to the school district and local arts groups on how to best implement the recently created plan, focusing on increasing arts opportunities for K-8 students. In addition, educators and artists can take advantage of a wealth of resources available from the Kennedy Center, such as supplemental lessons with online interactive learning modules and videos available on the Kennedy Center website, and professional development for teachers and teaching artists. The goal of this second phase is to provide a tapestry of arts education, strategically weaving together existing arts resources within the schools with those available from community providers and the Kennedy Center in order to reach every child.

Since the program’s inception, Any Given Child sites have reported numerous successes: some school districts have hired additional teachers or added staff positions; new sources of funding for arts education have been established; communities have expanded arts offerings for students; and sites have provided professional learning for classroom teachers, arts specialists, and local arts organizations to build their capacity to deliver high quality arts education to students.

About the Transformational Impact Fellowship

In 2015, the Arts Council of Indianapolis, with the generous funding support of Lilly Endowment Inc., launched a pilot program titled the Transformational Impact Fellowship. The program is the next phase in the evolution of the hugely successful and nationally recognized Creative Renewal Arts Fellowship Program. This new fellowship program is a direct response to the rise and development of the collective impact model in Indianapolis for community and civic organizations from all sectors to come together to realize big ideas that can transform a neighborhood, a community, or a city.

The Transformational Impact Fellowship Program will place professional artists and arts and culture organizations at the forefront of community development. The Arts Council has awarded two $100,000, two-year fellowships to artists working in partnership with a nonprofit organization, community, and/or neighborhood in Marion County. 

Transformational Impact Fellows

Bryan Fonseca, an Arts Council of Indianapolis Creative Renewal Arts Fellow and nationally respected theatre professional, is inspired to work with four neighborhoods in Indianapolis: Haughville, Hawthorn, Stringtown, and We Care. The four neighborhoods are devoid of any resident artistic company, performance space, or museum or gallery. For his fellowship, Fonseca will form a bilingual team to create a Mobile Cultural Center and will use the stories and experiences of those living in the neighborhoods for creating and presenting theatre, dance, and visual arts programs in these communities. His community partners will include Haughville Library, the Department of Parks and Recreation, the Westside Community Development Corporation, the Near West Collaborative, and many others. In doing so, Fonseca will use the arts as a way to affect social change through civic interaction. Fonseca is the founding director of Phoenix Theatre, and has already played a pivotal role in the transformation of Massachusetts Avenue through the arts, and he will now bring that experience to the Near Westside.

Greg Hull, a visual artist and also an Arts Council of Indianapolis Creative Renewal Arts Fellow, is well respected for creating experiential-based installations that incorporate light and video, and other technologies. For his fellowship, Hull will work with ALS patients in partnership with healthcare professionals at IU. These ALS patients will create visual imagery by being linked to microprocessors that will be projected inside the patient rooms and eventually on a larger scale in public areas of the hospital. These media arts creations will express the emotions of patients through the use of color, composition, motion, and form. Hull has described this as the opportunity to give “control back” to people who had “lost all control,” and to do it through the arts.

About the Robert D. Beckmann, Jr. Emerging Artist Fellowship

The Robert D. Beckmann, Jr. Emerging Artist Fellowship Program awards two $3,500 fellowships each year to qualified and talented artists in music, dance, theatre, literature, media, and/or the visual arts. The program consists of two distinct components. The first component, a monetary award in the amount of $3,500, is awarded for supplies, instruction, workshops, studio, or rehearsal space, or other uses specifically related to the growth and development of the artist’s artistic work. In addition to the grant, the fellows will receive professional development and growth opportunities through the Arts Council of Indianapolis. The Robert D. Beckmann, Jr. Emerging Artist Fellowship Program seeks to introduce and provide experiences, connections, and relationships with professional arts institutions and professional artists in central Indiana. 

Robert D. Beckmann, Jr. was a founding board member of the Arts Council of Indianapolis in 1987. He was an active arts advocate and patron, a performing and visual artist, as well as a community leader. Upon his death in 2001, he bequeathed funds to the Arts Council for the creation of a fellowship program to support emerging artists of all disciplines in central Indiana. It is through the lasting generosity of Robert D. Beckmann, Jr. that the Arts Council offers this fellowship opportunity to emerging artists. 

2016 Robert D. Beckmann, Jr. Emerging Artist Fellows

Stuart Coleman is a contemporary dancer, a 2014 graduate of Dance from Butler University, and is now one of the newest members of Dance Kaleidoscope. For his fellowship, he will travel to Pittsburgh to study under talented choreographer Kiesha Lalama so that he can return to Indianapolis as a better dancer, teacher, and choreographer.  

Jessica Ucul creates photographs that examine familial identity. As a former nanny to bank executives in New York City, her interests lie in gender rituals and domestic mythology. She earned her BFA in Photography in 2011 from Herron School of Art & Design and a MFA in 2013 from the School of Visual Arts. With her fellowship, she plans to purchase new cameras, acquire studio space, and work closely with the Arts Council to foster new relationships within Indianapolis.

About The ARTI Award Recipients

For their generous contribution to the arts, the Arts Council of Indianapolis awarded the 2015 ARTI Awards to:

2015 Larry Hurt Excellence in Arts Education ARTI Award

Abigail Wolf: Art teacher, Meredith Nicholson Elementary School.

Known for innovation and creativity, in addition to her school duties, Wolf teaches a summer program and countless workshops as well as serves on the curriculum development team for Art with a Heart.

Tracey Suchy: Art Teacher, West Newton Elementary School.

In addition to her classroom work, Suchy hosts outreach programs to connect the school to the community and recently led the creation of three totems representing Indiana, West Newton Elementary School, and Decatur Township that became the township’s first outdoor art installation.

2015 Volunteer/Patron ARTI Award

Joanna Taft: Executive Director, Harrison Center for the Arts.
One of Taft’s most enduring contributions to the arts community is in her role as the founding board president of Herron High School. It was her belief and vision that Indianapolis could grow the creative class necessary to transform Indianapolis into a world-class city by providing its children with a world-class education. Her tenacity, vision, dedication, and hard work created Herron High School. Now entering its 10th year, Herron High School has become one of the nation’s best schools, earning numerous awards and accolades.

Marianne W. Tobias: Musician, author, volunteer leader, scholar, and philanthropist for the arts.

Tobias’ love and passion for the arts is evident in all that she does. Tobias supports the arts and has a unique ability to make music accessible to all people. She has been known to pick up the baton to help conduct as well as the pen to help create program notes. Her support has included contributions, board service, and volunteer time for the Indianapolis Museum of Art, the International Violin Competition of Indianapolis, Dance Kaleidoscope, American Pianists Association, the Indianapolis Symphonic Choir, the Indianapolis Children’s Choir, and the Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra, to name just a few.

2015 Corporate ARTI Award

Barnes & Thornburg LLP

For more than two decades, Barnes & Thornburg LLP has been a leader in the community in supporting arts and cultural organizations through leadership, corporate giving, and volunteer service. Their exemplary financial support has benefited numerous organizations including Young Actors Theatre, Booth Tarkington Civic Theatre, the Indianapolis Children’s Choir, and the International Violin Competition of Indianapolis, just to name a few. In addition to much needed and appreciated corporate support, employees have served in key board leadership positions and provided thousands of hours of volunteer time.

About the Arts Council of Indianapolis

The Arts Council of Indianapolis fosters meaningful engagement in the arts by nurturing a culture where artists and arts organizations thrive. The Arts Council is an organization that advocates for the need and importance of broad community funding and support for a thriving arts scene; innovates by constantly pursuing and promoting innovative ideas and programs that better serve the area, its artists, and arts organizations; and connects artists, audiences, businesses, foundations, and arts and cultural organizations with opportunities to explore and expand central Indiana’s creative vitality. 

The Arts Council owns and operates two performance and exhibition spaces, the Indianapolis Artsgarden (attached to Circle Centre Mall) and Gallery 924 (at 924 N. Pennsylvania Street). The Arts Council allocates public funding to arts and cultural organizations through a competitive grant program; offers fellowship opportunities including the Creative Renewal Arts Fellowship, the Transformational Impact Fellowship, and the Robert D. Beckmann, Jr. Emerging Artist Fellowship; provides programs, services, and technical assistance for artists and arts organizations; and manages the city’s public art program. The Indy Arts Guide provides a comprehensive arts calendar featuring thousands of events, performances, and exhibitions throughout central Indiana. For more information on the Arts Council, call (317) 631-3301 or visit online at 

Connect with the Arts Council of Indianapolis on Facebook/indyarts, Twitter and Instagram @artscouncilindy, and online




Danielle M. Dove, Arts Council of Indianapolis, Director of Marketing & Community Engagement

[email protected]

(317) 631-3301

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