On Sunday, August 12, a crowd 20-rows deep gathered at Monument Circle in downtown Indianapolis. A few blocks away, the Colts hosted fans at their first preseason game, and Andrew Luck, the team’s new quarterback, threw a 63-yard pass. As they passed through the Circle on their way to the game, Colts fans may have been surprised by dancing girls in shiny and colorful outfits, bowls of fragrant chana masala and loud Bollywood songs, all part of the Indian Association of Indianapolis’ India Day at the Circle.
|India Day featured music, dance and food, celebrating India's diverse culture.|
India Day is just one of many cultural events supported by the International Center of Indianapolis’ Festival Fund, an initiative supported by The Indianapolis Fund, an affiliate of CICF. The Festival Fund aims to promote central Indiana’s cultural diversity and help organizations that celebrate national heritage. The Festival Fund enables the International Center to make grants between $500 and $2,000; the money provides financial, logistical and promotional help to local cultural festivals. For the International Center, the Fund also offers an opportunity to build connections with newcomers and longtime communities alike.
“When we began talking about this project, Brian [Payne, CICF President and CEO,] emphasized that this is a tool for connectivity, a way to build bridges across cultures,” says Diane Thomas. “The Festival Fund is a great way for us to raise awareness of globalization on a human level, something that we believe is important to this community.”
In the last year, the Festival Fund grants have contributed to a wide variety of events celebrating specific national heritages, including GermanFest and Zimbawbwe Night. The Fund has also supported events that reach and celebrate multiple groups including Harvest Fest, an event focused on refugee groups, and A World of Difference, a parade and food event highlighting the Lafayette Square area’s diverse populations.
Events That Reflect Our Changing Identity
The International Center of Indianapolis’ Festival Fund provides valuable support to a range of cultural organizations, support that celebrates central Indiana’s increasingly international identity. In its 2011-2012 program year, the Festival Fund has supported 20 events that reached an estimated 36,000 individuals. Funded events include:
The 2011 GermanFest included
Hosted by the Athenaeum, the third annual GermanFest attracted more than 4,000 attendees on October 8, 2011. The audience enjoyed Weiner dog racing, a Bavarian stone lift, 5k Lederhosen Lauf, kids events, German beer and more. The Festival Fund grant provided media support and supplies for the event.
Diwali: The Festival of Lights
On November 12, 2011, a crowd of 750 people gathered at the Murat Theatre to celebrate Diwali, a festival celebrated by several different groups in India, as well as other South Asian, Pacific and Caribbean nations. The event, planned by the Indian Association of Indiana, aimed to enrich cultural diversity and help residents with Indian heritage feel welcome in central Indiana. The International Center’s support helped cover entertainment including a comedian, a DJ and several other performances, facility rental and event publicity.
Feast of San Juan Diego and Our Lady of Guadalupe
At Fountain Square’s St. Patrick Church, close to 3,000 residents came together on December 11, 2011 to celebrate a treasured narrative within Hispanic/Latino culture – the story of Juan Diego and Our Lady of Guadalupe. The event, which was advertised in both English and Spanish, provided an opportunity for the whole community to expand their cultural knowledge. St. Patrick’s grant included support for publicity, an event meal and floral materials.
“This work lets us acknowledge the diversity of Indianapolis in an age of globalization, and lets us celebrate what that means to us as a community,” says Diane Thomas. “Our greatest hope for these events is that they bridge new communities to the greater community.”
Photos courtesy of Festival Fund grant recipients.