By Sadie Hunter
With an already vibrant downtown, the City of Noblesville has given outright support of its newly established Noblesville Cultural Arts District.
Voting at its Aug. 9 meeting, the Noblesville Common Council unanimously approved a resolution designating the district, encompassing the entire downtown area, residential areas, including Old Town, and the area west of White River to include the under-construction Federal Hill Commons and future developments adjacent to it.
The designation comes after years of work from the Noblesville Arts Council, represented by 19 area organizations, made up of artists, art organizations, city and county government, local businesses, local economic-development groups, local schools and the library. The result? The creation by the NAC of the Noblesville Cultural Arts Blueprint, a 10-year master plan designed to complement the city’s comprehensive master plan.
For two years, 2013 to 2015, the NAC worked to create the blueprint that Alaina Shonkwiler, City of Noblesville economic development assistant director and convener of the Noblesville Arts Council, said has a vision “to empower and promote a collective culture of the arts in Noblesville to make the city a vibrant place to both live and visit.”
Shonkwiler said city and the NAC looked to communities locally and others scattered throughout the nation to review civic art plans as the team developed its own. In Indiana, communities included Bloomington, Carmel, Columbus, Fishers, Fort Wayne and Indianapolis. Nationwide, the NAC looked into arts districts in Colorado (Boulder, Fort Collins, Littleton); Missouri (Kansas City); Kentucky (Louisville); and Texas (Austin).
“We spent the latter half of 2012 and early portion of 2013 identifying key place-making initiatives for a Noblesville Cultural Arts District and development of key, district structures and character areas, (which include) public art, gathering spaces, parking, walkability, trails, preservation of historic buildings, etc., as mechanisms to strengthen the capacity of businesses, arts and culture,” Shonkwiler said. “Most of 2013 was spent building and supporting collaborations and relationships among businesses, creative/cultural assets and partners to foster programming and place-making.”
Now, the NAC is seeking designation from the IAC, which, in 2008, became authorized to grant cultural district designation to municipal governments – something only six other communities are able to do.
Partnering organizations and entities for the district include the Noblesville Chamber of Commerce; Hamilton County Tourism; Legacy Fund; the Noblesville Parks and Recreation Dept.; Logan Street Sanctuary; Noblesville Main Street; and Nickel Plate Arts, among others.
The City of Noblesville has a history of collaborating on projects that directly benefit what city officials consider the heart of the city – the downtown. In the past 10 years, the city invested in the Hamilton County Artists’ Association’s Birdie Gallery at 195 S. Fifth St., the Noblesville Welcome Center at 839 Conner St. and its adjacent alley that hosts events throughout the year, and at the Nickel Plate Arts campus at 107 S. Eighth St.
At the Aug. 9 common council meeting, Shonkwiler also requested funds in the amount of $8,000 to be allocated for the district and the NAC in the 2017 budget.
“I requested $2,500 to support the proposed arts council signature event, Torched!,” she said. “This can be leveraged by the arts council for additional supporting dollars (grants) and/or event operations. This is not for day-to-day operational costs for the council. We will continue to operate as we have been the last two years, with no dedicated funding source but leveraging dollars and in-kind support of our participating members.”
The remaining $5,500, if approved, would be for signange, which Shonkwiler said should go on display in spring 2017.
“We would wait to hear from the Indiana Arts Commission to see if we have received state designation,” she said. “We are already looking at other communities’ cultural arts district signage to see what aspects we like about them and what might work for our own district.”
Aug. 30 is the deadline for the NAC to submit its letter of intent to the IAC, and the deadline for final designation consideration is less than two months away, Oct. 4. Shonkwiler said the NAC should hear of a decision from an IAC review panel by early 2017.
NOBLESVILLE CULTURAL ARTS DISTRICT TIMELINE
- 2008 – The Indiana Arts Commission becomes authorized to grant cultural district designation to municipal governments or organizations associated with them.
- May 2012 – City of Noblesville Economic Development Dept. submits a letter of intent to the IAC for a Community Cultural Arts Planning Consultancy to develop a plan for the implementation of a downtown cultural district.
- August 2012 – The IAC awarded Noblesville a technical assistance consultancy to address specific aspects of the community’s cultural planning that focused on a future downtown cultural district.
- August 2013 – The Noblesville Arts Council is formed and continues work on the Noblesville Cultural Arts Blueprint.
- January 2014 – The Noblesville Common Council approves an updated comprehensive master plan, including many cultural arts goals and objectives within it.
- June 2015 – The Noblesville Arts Council finalizes the Noblesville Cultural Arts Blueprint.
- November 2015 – Noblesville Arts Council – District Subcommittee holds first meeting to work on proposed Cultural Arts District in downtown Noblesville.
- Aug. 9, 2016 – The Noblesville Common Council approves a resolution supporting the establishment of the Noblesville Cultural Arts District. The Noblesville Cultural Arts District is established.
- Aug. 30, 2016 – Deadline for the NAC to submit its letter of intent to the IAC.
- Oct. 4, 2016 – Deadline for the NAC to submit its final state designation application to the IAC.
- Early 2017 – The IAC will communicate with the NAC its decision on giving of a cultural arts district designation.
Who makes up the Noblesville Arts Council?
- City of Noblesville
- Hamilton County Tourism
- Noblesville Cultural Arts Commission
- Nickel Plate Arts
- Hamilton County government
- Hamilton County Artists’ Association
- Polk Street Review
- Noblesville Main Street
- Noblesville Chamber of Commerce
- Ballerinas Academy of Dance
- The Belfry Theatre
- Logan Street Sanctuary
- Noblesville Preservation Alliance
- Hamilton East Public Library
- Ivy Tech Community College – Hamilton County Campus
- Noblesville Schools
- Deliberate Media
- Hamilton County Historian
- Artists: Michael Janosky, Gabriel Lehman, Bonnie Ramirez, Alys Caviness-Gober, Kay Richards, John Gilmore, Rodney Reveal, David Heady
FOUR STATEGIES OF THE NOBLESVILLE ARTS COUNCIL
1. Create a Noblesville Cultural Arts Strategic Blueprint
2. Increase community awareness and appreciation of the arts by identifying and promoting opportunities to naturally engage with artists and art related experiences
3. Foster a supportive environment for artists and art organizations to connect through advocacy, professional development, marketing and the identification of funding sources
4. Complement the City of Noblesville Comprehensive Master Plan
Mission statement: The Noblesville Arts Council will be a dynamic, community-based group utilizing the principles of collective impact to encourage collaborative approaches to building and maintaining a dynamic arts community.