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Where the heART is
Fort Wayne HeART of the City debuts at Three Rivers Festival
By Rebecca Stockert
Fort Wayne Reader
Artists from bigger cities have been known to laud Fort Wayne’s rich, tight-knit arts community. And it’s true: the city has a flourishing, friendly community that is small but mighty. With its level of talent, friendliness, and history of artists helping other artists, it’s no surprise that a group such as HeART of the City would be born here.
HeART of the City is a collective-type group developed on the very premise that makes Fort Wayne special: artist supporting artist and local supporting local. The city’s artists have strong ties with one another and the current flourishing of the arts owes a debt to this organic, historical fellowship. In the past, when there was less public support of the arts, camaraderie between artists was essential to keeping creativity alive. HeART of the City continues the tradition of homegrown support in the arts by offering a few more ties to that net of support.
The group offers several resources to community artists of all media and skill levels: local advocacy, an online artist directory, arts venue listing, and an online arts events page to which anyone can submit. HeART of the City highlights artists in their directory both on their website and social media, giving local artists a quick shot of free publicity, without asking for anything in return. The goal of the website is to act as an anchor, where artists can go to find out more about what’s going on in the arts community, without the noise of social media.
The website is currently the ‘heart’ of the group’s community efforts. It offers a quick and easy way for artists to access local events and opportunities. The public is also allowed to submit arts-centric happenings for posting on the website’s calendar. There is a nifty venue listing of places artists can exhibit and the list is growing. If you have a location open to displaying artwork, be sure to stop by the site and submit your listing.
The group is explicit about its intent to include artists of all backgrounds and skill levels. As the mission statement implies, the group is “all-inclusive without a mainstream agenda” and “supports artists of all types, mediums, and skill levels in the greater Northeast Indiana area.” HeART of the City board member, Beth Collier, describes the group’s dedication to helping artists by boosting their confidence via public exhibition of their artwork. She hopes experience and confidence garnered in our fair city will springboard artists into representing Fort Wayne abroad.
This fusion between emerging artists and established organizations is a goal of the group. Founders of HeART of the City see emerging artists who are curious about and eager to exhibit, but not sure if they are ‘established’ enough, or if they fit in. The group hopes to alleviate this anxiety by creating low-barrier, welcoming opportunities for new artists to participate. And the group is quickly living up to its name: as part of advocacy efforts, it has negotiated an opportunity with Three Rivers Festival’s Art in the Park for local artists.
Whisperings of the young group began in early summer 2016 when current board members began talking about needs of the community and what they could do about it. The official group and name “HeART of the City” came nearly a year later, in spring 2017, with the announcement of the partnership with Three Rivers Festival.
The partnership with Three Rivers Festival is a non-juried ‘locals only’ first-come-first-serve art fair that runs as an extension to Art in the Park. Art in the Park has historically drawn national, higher-end artists and artisans. The saltier booth fee can act as a barrier for greener sellers who are still learning the ropes of selling their art, not only at art fairs, but in general.
Thirty local artists are participating in HeART of the City’s partnership and taking advantage of Three River Festival’s Art in the Park on July 8 & 9. Participating artists will enjoy high foot traffic and a regional audience, while giving the festival’s art fair a boost of local flavor. Tricia Cavender, Heart of the City board member, sees the group’s mission at work in the partnership with the event, now in its 49th year: “We are already seeing artists who were once intimidated to show their work are now doing the upcoming Heart of the City at Three Rivers Festival.”
Julia Guerin, artist and elementary arts educator, first heard of HeART of the City at this year’s Art Camp at Chain O'Lakes State Park. She has taken advantage of the group’s partnership with Three Rivers Festival and online artist listing. Guerin appreciates the opportunity to be part of a larger event, but at a low-cost, low-risk level. Guerin says: “It feels really great to have local artists advocating for other local artists and helping us all to collectively achieve.” And that really is the heart of the matter.
What’s the future hold for HeART of the City? More opportunities for artists to connect and exhibit, of course! Be sure to visit the group’s website at http://fortwayneheartofthecity.com/ to keep up with events. Also check on Facebook and Instagram @fortwayneheartofthecity
Fort Wayne HeART of the City is showcasing its first event July 8, 11 am - 7 pm, & July 9, 11 am - 5 pm, in conjunction with Three Rivers Festival’s Art in the Park. Thirty local artists will have booths as an extension of the art fair. Be sure to stop by Friemann square to meet the artists and shop.