Yesterday I took a few days off to fly out to Indianapolis to provide the keynote for the annual Start With Art event run by the Arts Council Of Indianapolis. Many thanks to Dave Lawrence for the kind invitation.

The event I spoke at was a luncheon attended by 1000 people which included awards given out to local artists and community leaders, a speech from the First Lady Of Indianapolis, and some musical performances. My keynote wrapped up the two hour event.

My presentation focused on the intersection between art and community, and the many similar driving forces behind both. Art is meant to be created, distributed, shared, and enjoyed, and communities are a wonderful way to infuse artists with opportunity. Likewise creativity is the backbone of great community.

My presentation touched on a number of experiences and take-aways from my experience as both an artist (citing examples of Severed Fifth and LugRadio) and a community manager (covering Ubuntu) and a set of general lessons and conclusions that I have learned over the years. Although I had never been to a Start With Art event before, and was a little nervous as I didn’t really know the audience, the presentation was well received.

I love speaking, and I love meeting new people at the events I speak at, but I have to admit, this event felt different to most.

I must confess that I didn’t have a particularly large scope of knowledge about what the Arts Council Of Indianapolis actually do, but the opening remarks included a range of announcements of new areas of focus and work that the organization are working on as well as updates about existing programs. The council highlights artists, provides funding campaigns, released a local crowd-funding portal to connect donors to artists, built a central arts website for ticket and performance information and more. The strong overriding message I got from all of this was that they are doing everything they can to make Indy a national example of a thriving arts eco-system.

The level of passion that I experienced today from the organizers, attendees, and sponsors was inspiring. They are clearly charting a course for Indianapolis to be to arts that Nashville is to music and Silicon Valley is to technology. The core takeaway from my presentation was that great communities succeed when united around a mission, and the organizers from the Arts Council Of Indianapolis and their community leaders are a thundering example of this sense of purpose. They are not just talking about how to improve the arts in Indianapolis, they are making it happen, and the event today was a strong testament to their efforts.

A truly inspiring trip, and many thanks to everyone at the Arts Council Of Indianapolis for taking such good care of me while I was in town. Indianapolis is an awesome city, and it is wonderful to know that the arts community is in such good hands.

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