Arts Campus Fort Wayne is a state-designated cultural district and a rare treasure of creative wealth. The district is emerging as the regional epicenter for arts and cultural activity – and it is strong, welcoming, and distinctly Fort Wayne. Arts Campus Fort Wayne connects the city to the arts and helps the region achieve national recognition as a hotspot for talent, creativity, and innovation across all industries.
Anchored by some of Northeast Indiana’s premiere arts and culture nonprofits, Arts Campus Fort Wayne includes seven structures, a public park, and an outdoor market. As one of the community’s most important assets, Arts Campus Fort Wayne resident and presenting organizations serve a total audience of more than 533,000 people each year. The community gathers here to experience festivals, music, dance, cinema, theatre, visual art, outdoor markets, local history, and more throughout the year
Headquartered at Arts Campus Fort Wayne, FAME (The Foundation of Art and Music in Education) engages over 21,000 students, educators, and community members through six educational programs annually. Their hands-on arts programs provide opportunities for students to be immersed in the arts and study another culture. FAME Festival, the annual two-day culmination of these programs, showcases visual and performing arts to the public.
Throughout the pandemic, FAME has been committed to finding ways to continue to provide opportunities for children to engage in and experience the arts. While school was cancelled along with the organization’s spring activities, staff members continued to work with teachers and reach out to students through FAME’s website and Facebook page.
To ensure children could continue to participate in their own hands-on arts activities, FAME created kits for families to pick up for their children at designated locations, like:
- Promenade Park
- Arts United Center
- Boys & Girls Club
- YMCA branches (North, South, and Central)
Over 600 kits were distributed at no charge to families. FAME is now considering continuing these online activities as well as continuing to distribute art kits and music supplies if funding can be secured.
FAME's membership is comprised of 200 teachers throughout Northeast Indiana. The board is also primarily composed of teachers. This allows FAME to foster strong relationships with the community and the groups it serves directly. Input and ideas from teachers have been invaluable as the staff developed ideas to stay connected to children and to continue to make the arts accessible for children. Virtual programs have been accessed by schools and students in outlying areas that have not always been able to participate in FAME events in person because of transportation and time issues. Partnerships with the Boys & Girls Club, the YMCA, and the city park department to distribute art kits enabled FAME to reach underserved families throughout the community.
While staff look forward to returning to in-person programming, the activities and relationships formed in response to the pandemic have benefited FAME and the community. FAME looks forward to building on these relationships to continue to reach more children with the arts.
Artists and community members are active in the cultural district. Taste of the Arts, facilitated by Arts United, is a two-day festival that brings an estimated 30,000 people to Downtown Fort Wayne. The festival features over 800 artists in 70 live performances of local dance troupes, theatre companies, comedians, songwriters, and bands of various genres: indie-folk, rock, jazz, metal, pop, neo-soul, and more. Other Taste of the Arts participants include The Art Market (a pop-up marketplace featuring over 40 artisans) and the Fort Wayne Artists Guild’s Kekionga Plein Air Event (featuring 75 visual artist participants).
In 2020, Taste of the Arts pivoted its usual in-person event to be held virtually. Check out this interview with Arts United's Communications and Community Relations Manager, Rachelle Reinking, about what it takes to transition a 30,000 person festival to a digital platform.