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Arts Illiana, the Regional Arts Council for the Wabash Valley


Arts Illiana has served the Wabash Valley as a Regional Arts Council since 1980. The organization was initiated to address the need for an “umbrella” organization that would, as stated in our mission, “Promote, support, and enhance the arts and cultural activities of the Wabash Valley. Arts Illiana’s primary service area includes the Indiana counties of Clay, Parke, Putnam, Sullivan, Vermillion, and Vigo. Interest is also given to the Illinois counties of Clark and Edgar.”


In 1999, when the Indiana Arts Commission decentralized to be able to better serve all of Indiana, Arts Illiana was a natural choice to become a Regional Arts Partner (RAP) to provide services to those same Indiana counties we were already serving.


The responsibilities of being a partner overlapped with the services we were already providing but expanded to include grants-making. Arts Illiana administers the Regional Initiative Grant program—a state-funded grant that provides arts organization support as well as support for arts project. We have just over $90,000 in state funds that is dispersed through this grant program annually. These grant funds support large and small arts organizations including the Swope Art Museum, Terre Haute Symphony Association, Art Spaces, Community Theaters in Terre Haute, Brazil, and Greencastle, the Terre Haute Community Band, and more.


In addition to administering the state-funded grant program, Arts Illiana has served in the same capacity for the City of Terre Haute Arts Grants program. Working closely with the Office of the Mayor, we have distributed approximately $30,000 annually to arts organizations and other arts projects that benefit and enhance the quality of life in our city. During the pandemic, many arts projects could not take place, so funds have been directed toward supporting local artists to create mini murals throughout the city. Most of those murals will be completed by early summer of 2021.


Arts Illiana promotes the arts & cultural activities and opportunities through a weekly e-newsletter, ArtsVine and through our magazine, Spectrum. We also have an active Facebook page with postings for arts and cultural events, exhibitions, and arts opportunities across the region. Arts Illiana Gallery also maintains Facebook and Instagram pages with postings specific to gallery calls for entry and exhibitions. During COVID, our Spectrum magazine was not published but we are currently in the process of getting a new issue ready for publication. We feature both a calendar of events and gallery listings and interesting stories featuring individuals and organizations in our regional arts community. It is available in print and in digital form accessed free on our website.


Arts Illiana has a wonderful visual art gallery that serves not only our local and regional artists but also includes artists across North America for at least two of our four annual exhibitions. It is a sales gallery, so all artwork is available for purchase. The annual “small art” exhibition is reserved for artists in our service area and the entry is waived for them. The biennial “Crow Show” has been an extremely popular exhibition and will next take place in 2022. Each exhibition has a guest artist curator whose work is featured in our North Gallery space for the duration of each exhibition. All exhibitions have festive opening receptions and are typically held on first Fridays. During COVID, openings moved to a virtual Facebook live event, hosted by gallery director Michael Tingley. Virtual tours and a catalog of the artwork in each exhibition can be viewed by visiting artsilliana.com. While gallery hours are normally Monday-Friday 10 am to 5 pm, current hours are Thursdays and Fridays from 10 am to 5 pm or by appointment.


Working with other local arts and cultural organizations, Arts Illiana played a significant role in the application process toward Terre Haute being recognized as a state-wide cultural district in 2018. The district, known as 41|40 Arts & Cultural District, includes downtown Terre Haute, much of the ISU campus, and Terre Haute’s brewery district. Arts Illiana sits on the district’s advisory board, serves as its fiscal agent, and oversees the social media content for 41|40. Current plans in development are wayfinding signage and a 24-page brochure guide to the district. The state-wide cultural district status will be a tool for attracting tourists and boosting economic development.


Being integral and necessary to the community has always been vital to Arts Illiana’s mission. This is because we believe the arts are essential to people’s lives and the development of a lively community. We achieve this by collaborating with other arts and cultural organizations; serve on various community advisory boards and task forces; provide capacity building assistance to artists and arts groups; offer meeting space for events and workshops; and do whatever we can to help the arts succeed. Simply put, whether its individual people or an arts non-profit group, Arts Illiana believes that creative assets can transform a community and is committed to leveraging resources to ensure that the arts thrive in the Wabash Valley.


Sherri Wright is the Associate Director of Arts Illiana and can be reached at sherri@artsilliana.org.

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