Nickel Plate Arts Initiative, which serves eastern Hamilton and southern Tipton counties, is one of four recipients of the 2014 Primacy of Place Community Awards by Building Better Communities, the outreach and engagement division at Ball State University.
“It’s a huge validation that what our mission is, what are goals are, are working and valued. It’s a huge shot in the arm for us as we start really moving forward with projects and programs,” NPA Executive Director Aili McGill said. “It welcomes us into the network of Community builders. We meet their standards. It will lead to greater resources and connections down the road.”
Before Nickel Plates applied for the grant, all six communities agreed that instead of submitting individual applications they would work together.
“As soon as (Visit Hamilton County Executive Director) Brenda Myers introduced the idea, they all saw the strengths of it,” McGill said. “It emphasized we are working on multiple levels.”
Nickel Plate was one of nine finalists for the award.
“As we say there the group said ‘I think we are going to win, no, listen to that project,” McGill said. “When our named was called we were all so excited. We had been hopeful, confident the whole time.”
The awards, which were presented at an awards ceremony luncheon at the Minnetrista Cultural Center in Muncie, recognize Indiana communities’ exemplary approaches to improving quality of life for their residents, businesses and visitors.
“A community’s investment in quality-of-place is one of the top-drivers of economic development within that community,” stated Bill Davis, executive director of Indiana’s Office of Community and Rural Affairs, one of the organizations partnering with Ball State to present the awards. “It helps attract a talented workforce as well as cultivate increased interest for new businesses to move to the community. These communities are among those that are truly focused on determining their economic futures.”
Nickel Plate Arts, which is headquartered in Noblesville, serves a population of approximately 150,000 people in eastern Hamilton County and Tipton. The community arts initiative supports, promotes and provides arts experiences in the six communities along the historic Nickel Plate Railroad.
“The Nickel Plate Arts community understands the unique role that arts can play in creating, strengthening and transforming communities,” said Dick Heupel, director of economic and community engagement for Ball State’s Building Better Communities. “We were impressed by the initiative’s reach across counties and the number of partners involved in connecting residents and visitors with local art talent.”
The Primacy of Place Community Awards Program was launched in 2013 to showcase Indiana communities who have made the strategic decision to invest in areas such as arts, education, wellbeing, community design and effective governance to strengthen local economies.
Fellow winners include Riverside Park Amphitheater in Rushville, Big Four Bridge and Big Four Station in Jeffersonville, and the Read to Succeed program in Greater Lafayette/Tippecanoe County. The 2014 recipients will be further highlighted at BBC’s second Primacy of Place conference on Oct. 16 at the Sheraton Indianapolis City Centre.
In addition to bragging rights and a handmade glass artwork award, McGill said Ball State is creating a promotion video of NPA.
“They are filming it which helps us with promoting what it is we do and connect with other networks,” she said.