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Lilly Endowment, Inc. Awards $4.3M to 10 East Arts + Design District

On December 5, 2018, a spokesperson from the Lilly Endowment announced the recipients of its Strengthening Indianapolis through Arts and Culture Initiative grants at the John Boner Neighborhood Centers. Of 226 vying entities, a collective comprised of the John Boner Neighborhood Centers and eight partner organizations became one of 18 awardees whose visionary approaches to arts-based community development showed the most promise to promote engagement with the arts among diverse individuals and families, enhance Indianapolis’ national and international reputation as a creative hub, and stimulate dialogue within and across Indianapolis communities. With their $4,319,218 grant, the John Boner Neighborhood Centers and their partners will spur economic activity along a one-mile segment of East 10th Street by incentivizing and advocating for arts-based community development. By the end of 2021, Near Eastside neighbors can expect the stretch of 10th Street between Beville Street and Sherman Drive, known as the 10 East Arts + Design District, to host many spaces to create, exhibit, and enjoy artwork in affordable, accessible, and culturally-inclusive settings.

Recognizing high rates of vacancy along East 10th Street, the 10 East Arts + Design District plan emphasizes the potential of reinvestment in abandoned properties to increase opportunities for individual artists, art cooperatives, and organizations that promote and support the arts to locate and do business on the Near Eastside while making art more accessible to longtime residents. Local community development corporations and arts groups will develop and maintain a strong creative identity for the 10 East Arts + Design District by repairing and rebuilding condemned buildings, offering grants to artists for the creation of public artworks, developing 25 affordable housing units specifically for artists, and increasing the accessibility of arts programming to low-income neighbors other members of underrepresented groups across the East 10th Street Corridor. All long-term projects along the East 10th Street corridor will be preceded by feasibility studies, which will ensure that they are implemented in ways that optimize growth potential while maximizing benefits to Near Eastside neighbors.

Although the 10 East Arts + Design District will confer benefits across the Near Eastside, its implementation partners intend to concentrate their efforts at three key locations: the intersection of 10th Street and Beville Street, the intersection of 10th Street and Rural Street, and the Rivoli Theater. While the first of these nodes is not especially significant, the latter two are notorious, as the second is a hotspot for violent crime and the third is an eyesore that has not been used in more than a decade. Thus, the implementation of the 10 East Arts + Design District plan will provide key opportunities to improve public safety and economic opportunities on the Near Eastside, in pursuance of the Safe, Work, and Buy IndyEast subgoals.

Physical manifestations of the 10 East Arts + Design District have yet to appear, but they will emerge throughout 2019. While some aspects of implementation will be dependent on community input, it has been determined that the Arts + Design District Headquarters will be located at the corner of 10th Street and Gray Street to host arts programming and showcase rotating exhibitions of works by Near Eastside artists. Additionally, the Rivoli Theatre, which is owned by Inspire 10th Street, LLC, an entity of the John Boner Neighborhood Centers, Near East Area Renewal (NEAR), and Englewood Community Development Corporation, is being stabilized by the construction firm Jungclaus-Campbell in preparation for future arts-based community and economic development occupants.

Understandably, there is substantial concern from Near Eastside neighbors about the ways in which an increased presence of creative industries will impact the affordability of housing and other basic necessities. Just about every city, including Indianapolis, has seen rents, mortgage rates, property taxes, and the cost of owning and operating a small business in its working-class neighborhoods rise due to influxes of mid to high income “creative class” residents seeking the benefits such as proximity to collaborators and customers, supply of unique goods and services, and concentration of like-minded people conferred by urban life. However, it is unlikely that gentrification will be a hallmark of the 10 East Arts + Design district, given that the Near East Quality of Life Plan and the IndyEast Promise Zone Plan have devised strategies to ensure that working class neighbors and neighbors who cannot participate in the workforce are able to remain integral members of Near Eastside communities, and that NEAR is leading an effort to develop a community land trust. As always, the John Boner Neighborhood Centers, Westminster Neighborhood Services, Shepherd Community Center, and Outreach, Inc. are available to direct struggling individuals and families to opportunities for food, education, employment, financial coaching, tax preparation, bill assistance, and childcare, which are expected to increase as the 10 East Arts + Design District develops. Furthermore, the Quality of Life Summits, Eastside Neighborhood Arts Taskforce, and Eastside Arts Advisory Council all provide opportunities for neighbors to engage with one another and voice their ideas and reactions to the people who are leading efforts related to the 10 East Arts and Design District.


The historic Rivoli Theatre, which is to be a focal point of the 10 East Arts + Design District upon its renovation


Please direct your questions about the general implementation and design of the 10 East Arts + Design District to Joanna Nixon at jnixon@jbncenters.org, housing and small business development to John Hay at john@nearindy.org, and getting involved with community meetings to Alicia Baker at abaker@jbncenters.org.