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Bloomington is creative.

The Bloomington Entertainment & Arts District (BEAD) is a state-designated cultural district and city-led economic development project that supports the galleries, performing arts venues, public parks, hotels, and nearly 100 restaurants and more than 100 specialty shops spread across 60 city blocks in the heart of downtown. No matter where you go, or look, you will find possibilities in every direction.

Impact Points


Creative jobs in the zip codes surrounding the Bloomington Entertainment and Arts District in 2019. (Source)


Creative industry earnings in the zip codes surrounding the Bloomington Entertainment and Arts District in 2019. (Source)


Cultural nonprofit revenues in the zip codes surrounding the Bloomington Entertainment and Arts District in 2019. (Source)

A collage of four photos from BEAD.

Impact Stories

The BEAD saw the creation and expansion of the El Mercado Local Artisan Market. El Mercado is a market-format vehicle for community growth, for micro-business owners and artists in Bloomington to gather and offer their talents to the Bloomington BEAD community. El Mercado is especially inspired by minority artists and makers in Bloomington. Gearing market outreach to people of color, queer and trans artists and those who might otherwise lack access to Bloomington markets, El Mercado is building bridges between Bloomington and its vast, incredible network of talent. The market invites marginalized vendors and artists to an accessible venue and promotes them on the basis of their skills, encouraging their self-discovery as artists and vendors and offering support for their growth which in turn grows our community. The Bloomington Urban Enterprise Association granted El Mercado a Zone Arts Grant to expand its programming. Located in the cultural district, El Mercado, is a great asset and vital to the cultural district’s connection to underrepresented communities.

As El Mercado grows and continues to be an advocate for those emerging new artists of color or identify in other marginalized groups, the cultural district will be able to further enhance the arts experience of those who live and work in the cultural district as well as the community of Bloomigton at large.

One of the project grants awarded in 2019 went to Stafford Berry Jr., a professor at Indiana University and Director of te African American Dance Company. Stafford Berry’s project was to pay homage to the Black Market that was firebombed in the 1960s. Berry wrote in his application that:

Kudumisha: A Black Culture Celebration – part of a year-long commemoration – will honor invisible(ized) black bodies and celebrate black culture. I will gather a group of professional African music and dance artists, create a public outdoor performance, then share it on Saturday, September 7, 2019 at People’s Park in downtown Bloomington. The People’s Park marks the site of the historic – yet short-lived – Black Market. In the fall of 1968, Rollo Turner, an IU graduate, opened the Black Market at the corner of Dunn and Kirkwood. It sold LPs, books, artwork, and African imports, and quickly evolved into a peaceful gathering place for Bloomington and Indiana University’s African- American community. On December 26th 1968, it was firebombed by two local members of the Ku Klux Klan.

The Bloomington Arts Commission 2019 grant awardee found inspiration in a tragic event that took place in Bloomington and created a site specific performance to engage  and educate the BEAD and Bloomington community. Using the space, history and the community, Stafford Berry highlighted the cultural district in a new way; commemorating Black culture in a space where Black people in Bloomington were once forced to leave.

Feeling inspired? Start your journey on the Creative Community Pathway.

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