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Southern Indiana Highlights

Lotus Education and Arts Foundation

The mission of the Lotus Education and Arts Foundation is to create opportunities to experience, celebrate, and explore the diversity of the world’s cultures, through music and the arts.

In late May of 2020, Lotus created and disseminated a survey to ask its audience, its community partners, and its social media followers how comfortable they would be attending future live events, and in what other ways they would like to engage in Lotus programming. Over 120 people/organizations responded to our survey. A surprising 65% said they would consider attending live events if proper COVID precautions were taken, and many also stated that virtual programming would be a safe and equitable route to share programming with our community.

Additionally, the foundation heard from several of its partners that hands-on activities would be highly valued by their constituents, especially with their youth populations. Unreliable or unaffordable internet access for households that are in rural areas or that are economically challenged presented a challenge to participation in virtual offerings. Removing the cost barrier and providing alternatives to virtual content became part of Lotus’s mission.

Based on these responses, and with a nod to initial pandemic realizations, Lotus took a multi-pronged approach:

  • Re-envisioned its 27th annual festival to include local artists’ livestreamed performances, pre-recorded performances from international artists, and highlights from Lotus archived performances from past festivals.
  • Hosted one out-door live event at Switchyard Park, following health department guidelines.
  • To address the visual arts component that is integral to its mission, Lotus refashioned Festival Outreach activities into accessible kits that included hands-on activities such as coloring pages, recipes, word searches, puzzle pieces, language worksheets, etc., all 1000 dispensed through its community partners.

Most of these activities were provided completely free of charge.

Additionally, Lotus has long worked with community partners such as Monroe County Public Library (MCPL) and the Boys & Girls Club of Bloomington (BGCB), to annually host an artist performance or a workshop. With that reality not an option this past year, the foundation worked with both organizations in new ways. CATS (Community Access Television Station) has its home at MCPL and has been filming Lotus Festival performances for two decades. Their festival archives had never has never been utilized by Lotus organization until 2020. Lotus worked with CATS to find high quality artist footage, pulling together a diverse set of performances. Both organizations agreed that all selected footage be offered at no cost to festival audiences.

Lotus worked with both MCPL and BGCB to distribute the festival outreach kits, and through these partners were able to reach youth and adults without access to the arts. New partners for the foundation in 2020 were:

  • Middle Way House, an organization providing services to people in crisis
  • Jill’s House, an assisted living and memory care facility in Bloomington
  • Kids with Absent Parents
  • Big Brothers/Big Sisters
  • Banneker Center

Lotus’s ability to prepare, print, and distribute the kits to these partners made a huge difference enabling folks to participate. In mid-November, Lotus also invited Boys & Girls Club members for a hands-on workshop building lanterns. This was the foundation’s first foray into inviting youth to its new Firebay facility.

Lotus Education and Arts Foundation is an FY22 Arts Organization Support Merit recipient. The IAC awarded $1,000 merit awards to 52 organizations receiving FY22 Arts Organization Support to recognize their innovation and dedication to providing public benefit in the last year.

Dearborn Highlands Arts Council (DHAC)

The mission and primary purpose of the Dearborn Highlands Arts Council, Inc. is to serve, expand and enrich the lives of residents of Dearborn County and adjacent areas through education, exposure, diversity, enjoyment and participation in the performing and visual arts.

2020 was a difficult year, but the economic challenges related to the pandemic did not put a damper on the work of DHAC. Flexibility was at the center for arts experiences. The Gallery remained open, and space was re-imagined to follow CDC guidelines.

The primary area served by the DHAC consists of the 50,000 folks that call Dearborn County home. A quarter of the population consists of individuals 25-44 years of age with young children (under 4 years old).  There is also a large group of older adults, 45-64 years of age. This information is directly related to the type of recreational and educational needs of the community to support a larger demand for family programs for children and grandchildren.

DHAC recognizes that diversity and inclusivity make its community better and, as a result, regularly collaborates with arts and non-arts organizations, like:

  • 4H and Community Fair.
  • Lawrenceburg Main Street
  • New Horizons & Stepping Stones
  • Citizens Against Substance Abuse (CASA)
  • Dearborn County Jail Chemical Addiction Program (JCAP)
  • Dearborn County Convention Visitor & Tourism Bureau
  • St. Elizabeth Hospital
  • Dearborn County Retired Senior Volunteer Program (RSVP)
  • Lawrenceburg Public Library District

The Dearborn Highland Arts Council is an FY22 Arts Organization Support Merit recipient. The IAC awarded $1,000 merit awards to 52 organizations receiving FY22 Arts Organization Support to recognize their innovation and dedication to providing public benefit in the last year.

Evansville Philharmonic Orchestral Corporation

The Evansville Philharmonic Orchestra’s mission is "to engage our community in the powerful experience of live symphonic music."

The Evansville Philharmonic Orchestra held a WWII Pops concert in an airplane hangar that serves as a WWII museum. One wall of the hangar remained open, and staff arranged chairs for social distancing. This was helpful in accommodating patrons who didn’t feel safe in the halls of the theatre that the orchestra usually performs in.

The orchestra also established relationships with two local hospitals to provide pops concert videos in patient rooms and worked with 20 nursing homes and assisted living facilities to enable the live stream for their residents.

An existing partnership with Old National Bank enabled the orchestra to broadcast the beloved holiday special on local ABC television and provided recordings to schools, teachers, students, and parents in surrounding counties, as well as the Ronald McDonald House and two youth service organizations.

Lastly, the orchestra established an outreach, diversity, and inclusion committee and as a result implemented a free series called “New Traditions.” This series features the resident Eykamp String Quartet and celebrates the music of underrepresented composers. Performances have taken place from the porches of historic homes to museums and children’s centers, and are organized through community partners, such as the historic Reitz Home, Evansville Museum of Arts & Sciences, Children’s Music of Evansville, African American Museum, Arts Council, Mesker Park Zoo and WNIN Public Radio.

The Evansville Philharmonic Orchestral Corporation is an FY22 Arts Organization Support Merit recipient. The IAC awarded $1,000 merit awards to 52 organizations receiving FY22 Arts Organization Support to recognize their innovation and dedication to providing public benefit in the last year.

Carnegie Center for Art and History

The Carnegie Center serves as a cultural resource for the education and enjoyment of the citizens of Floyd County and the surrounding metro area. To fulfill that mission we collect, preserve, and interpret the history and heritage of Floyd County; promote an appreciation of and participation in the visual arts; and preserve the historic Carnegie Library building in which the museum is housed. As a branch of the Floyd County Library, our mission is to support the growth and creativity of an engaged, informed, and connected community.

In 2019, the Carnegie Center premiered a new youth education program for 3rd graders called Historian for a Day, about local Civil War hero Lucy Higgs Nichols. During the 2019-2020 school year, this experience to 1,089 children. When the Covid-19 pandemic hit, the center could no longer visit schools or receive tours to present this program. Immediately, staff reached out to partners in the local schools and community and asked what the center could do to support youth and art education. In response to the community’s desire for accessible, engaging virtual programming, staff spent the summer creating two large-scale virtual youth education ventures that have been remarkably successful during the 2020-2021 school year.

First, the Carnegie Center created a virtual version of the Historian for a Day program. Staff filmed new short videos and made a unique website that teachers could access to screen these videos, and to schedule an interactive live session with their digital classrooms. In this virtual program, students can zoom into their screens to examine primary source documents, as staff walks them through the details of Lucy Higgs Nichols' journey from enslaved child to Civil War nurse, to a celebrated veteran in a segregated America.

As of this writing, the center has presented this virtual experience to over 1,000 3rd-5th graders in Louisville and New Albany this school year and are on course to exceed the previous school year’s number of students that have experienced this program by over 300 children. Each of these students experienced a one-hour live interactive storytelling session with a Carnegie educator, with an average virtual class size of 30 students. The format allows for discussion about a story that is both tragic and triumphant, and that has relevance to today's ongoing discourse around racial justice.

The second new venture that we launched in response to community need was a new 35-minute educational film called A Reason to Remember: A Virtual New Albany Field Trip. When Floyd County Schools shut down in-person learning in response to the pandemic, all field trips were cancelled across the school system, including the annual school field trip that 3rd graders take to historic sites in New Albany. The Carnegie Center proposed a partnership with those historic sites to produce a dynamic film for use by teachers to present a virtual field trip experience for their 3rd and 4th-grade students.

After six months of behind-the-scenes work, the film premiered in February 2021 and has been streamed almost 500 times--including by teachers for virtual classrooms. It can also be used annually as an introduction tool once field trips are back in place. This film project was partially funded by the Indiana Arts Commission’s Indiana Arts Emergency Relief Fund.

Additionally, over the summer of 2020 the center joined forces with its local school district during their free lunch distribution program and gave away free, hands-on art kits to families who were picking up free lunches. That summer staff created and distributed 1,200 free art kits, so that children would have hands-on art projects to engage them when the center and other institutions were closed to the public. The center’s adult education staff members created and distributed several hundred art kits to adults with disabilities in the community. In total, the Carnegie Center made and gave away almost 3,000 art kits to the public during the pandemic.

The Carnegie Center for Art and History is an FY22 Arts Organization Support Merit recipient. The IAC awarded $1,000 merit awards to 52 organizations receiving FY22 Arts Organization Support to recognize their innovation and dedication to providing public benefit in the last year.