Indy Chamber Moves Forward on ‘Music Cities’ Cultural Initiative

As City of Indianapolis launches Create Indy program, Chamber will pursue music strategy to support arts and culture as economic development catalysts

(INDIANAPOLIS, Ind., August 20, 2018)(INDIANAPOLIS) The Indy Chamber, in partnership with the City of Indianapolis, will be working with a leading consultant and local partners to develop a music strategy for a more diverse, vibrant cultural scene in Indianapolis.  The music initiative will work in conjunction with the ‘Create Indy’ program unveiled by the City of Indianapolis last week to expand and enrich the city’s cultural and creative fields, including design, film and media, and food as well as music.

In May, the Chamber co-hosted a Music Cities Forum at the Hi-Fi in Fountain Square featuring Sound Diplomacy, a global firm that advises communities on creating and capitalizing on their music cultures.  Attendees began productive discussions on Indy’s music climate, challenges, and potential economic impact.

Today’s announcement details the next steps from the Forum, including engaging Sound Diplomacy to help develop a report informed by local influencers in the arts, hospitality, public and private sectors.

“Creative communities attract talent, and talent attracts employers and investment,” said Indianapolis Mayor Joe Hogsett. “Our music scene is essential to our quality of life – if we make Indianapolis a better place for artists and musicians, we make it a better place to live and a better place for business.”

The Chamber has assembled a budget that includes a contract with Sound Diplomacy and other planning efforts, and will be launching a fundraising effort to complete the process.  The city’s Create Indy Fund will also make grants to individuals and organizations in Marion County that focus on cultural and artistic development.

“Music should certainly be considered a catalyst for economic development,” agreed Josh Baker, founder of the Hi-Fi Indy and MOKB Presents and organizer of the Music Cities Forum.  “Great venues and events appeal to the people who fill our tech parks and co-working spaces, launch start-ups and help companies grow.”

The music strategy could include programs and policies to encourage development of music venues, housing and creative spaces for musicians and other artists.  Planning discussions have also centered on grant-making and other financial incentives to attract concerts and organize community-based events (like the inaugural ‘Holler on the Hill’ festival planned for Garfield Park in September).

Partners have also noted the successful public-private-philanthropic support for established institutions like the Hilbert Circle Theater and Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra, and are exploring on ways to engage funders and build civic enthusiasm for the broader, burgeoning music community across the city.

"The Indianapolis region has significant music assets, including a history, community of artists, and institutions and venues, that we must include more and more in our economic development strategy,” noted Indy Chamber President & CEO Michael Huber.  “We’ll be fortunate to work with Sound Diplomacy for valuable insight on what’s worked elsewhere across the world. We also hope to guide an authentic discussion about what makes Indianapolis unique and how we can be an even more inspiring and encouraging ‘music city.’”

Huber acknowledged that music isn’t an obvious area for the Chamber to embrace as a business climate emphasis.  He added that amateur sports made a similarly unusual ‘bet’ for city leaders in the 1970s that ultimately brought billions of dollars of investment and invaluable exposure, and pointed to the recent success of ‘Film Indy’ in attracting hundreds of projects with a $10 million impact in just two years.

“As we evolve our regional economic development strategy, we recognize the importance of the arts and creative industries to help us retain and attract talent. This helps us grow our high-tech industries and bring new energy to our neighborhoods,” Huber finished.  “We appreciate the foresight of Mayor Hogsett and our partners in the arts community in launching Create Indy, and we’re eager to add a music strategy that provides the soundtrack to a stronger economy.”

To learn more about the music strategy as it evolves, visit


About the Indy Chamber

The Indy Chamber is the voice of progress and improvement for the Indianapolis region's business community. With membership of nearly 2,000 businesses in the Indianapolis region, the Indy Chamber is leading the effort to strengthen the business climate, improve the state of education, revitalize neighborhoods and enhance the region's workforce. For more information, visit


Media Contacts:

Joe Pellman, Indy Chamber, 317.464.2251, [email protected]

Chris Watts, 317.514.3184, [email protected]

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