Imagining a Fishers Arts Center
Writer/Photographer / Jocelyn Vare
Imagine this. It’s a Saturday evening in Fishers. You are visiting the city’s community arts center to attend a musical theater performance. Fellow theatergoers stroll across the plaza before the show. You pause to take a photo in front of one of the colorful sculptures outside. As you enter the arts center, you greet some people you know. They are season ticket holders, like you, who attend a performance here regularly. You present your ticket and enter the black box theater before the show begins.
This type of community arts experience may be in Fishers’ future sooner than you think. Recently, a class of third-year Ball State University architecture students designed a Fishers arts center. Their class project was initiated and directed by the Fishers Arts Council, a local organization that brings arts opportunities to the community.
Fishers does not have a community arts center building for its 90,000 residents to enjoy local art and culture. A plan to build an arts center does not yet exist, so brainstorming and conversation-starters are important first steps. The architecture students shared their creative designs to jumpstart this conversation.
“It is important that Fishers residents have the chance to envision how greater arts and culture opportunities could enhance our community,” says Laura Musall, a Fishers Arts Council board member. “Seeing actual architecture designs for a community arts center opens our eyes to the future possibilities.”
The Ball State University students worked individually and in groups to create models and visions for seven different designs for Fishers’ future community arts center. Tim Gray, BSU Professor of Architecture, and his students began working on the project this fall by meeting with the Fishers Arts Council and visiting 116th Street in Fishers, giving the students a real-life experience.
The students were asked to design an arts center to accommodate outdoor public art, an art gallery, performance space, rehearsal areas and accessible parking. The students interacted with community residents and local artists and performers to gather requirements for their designs.
“This project had an enhanced complexity because it merged multiple design requirements with creativity,” says Gray, who lives in Carmel and owns an art studio in downtown Indianapolis. “This was an exciting project because it was grounded in a real-life community need. Ball State is dedicated to immersive learning and a Fishers arts center project was an exciting opportunity for both the students and the community.”
“This has been my favorite project during my three years of studying architecture at Ball State,” says student Cassi Quissel. “I am from Plymouth, in northern Indiana. This assignment gave me chance to get to know Fishers for the first time and contribute to the real future of this community.”
Each student-group offered a unique approach to a Fishers arts center. The students presented seven different concepts at an open show to the community last month. The event was held at Meyer-Najem Construction, a Fishers business with art gallery space. Students shared their ideas and unveiled their designs and architectural models. Local arts advocates, musicians, performers and artists attended the event as well as city government representatives including Mayor Scott Fadness, Deputy Mayor Leah McGrath, city employees and City Council members, David George, Todd Zimmerman and Cecilia Coble.
“This is an amazing opportunity and partnership between Fishers Arts Council and Ball State University,” Coble said during the event. “Each of the students’ designs demonstrated innovation created specifically for Fishers. We need more art collaborations like this.”
Geno Leser, a Fishers resident and a performer with Fishers Music Works’ Mudsock Jazz Combo, attended the exhibit to see what students imagined for a space where he could perform some day. Leser thinks about what it will take to make the arts center dream become a reality.
“I see a three-legged stool approach to bring a facility like this to life,” Leser says. “Three equal parts need to work together. Local for-profit businesses, non-profit organizations and the community all need to collaborate to make an arts center a reality.”
Although Leser dreams of a future arts gathering place in Fishers, he acknowledges that a creative scene thrives here already. “This arts facility will enhance the heart of arts that already exists in Fishers today,” Leser says.
The Ball State students seem to share this heart for Fishers arts as they demonstrated their ideas to the crowd of attendees. Visitors at the event interacted with the students and asked questions about the future architects’ inspiration and ideas for a Fishers community arts center.
There is no question about the level of interest in developing a community arts center in Fishers. The event was packed with intrigued residents.
“People obviously like this idea” Musall says. “Together, we will keep imagining Fishers’ creative future.”
“Art of Design” Exhibit
January 9-31, 2018
Second Floor of Fishers City Hall, One Municipal Drive.
Free. Open 8:30 a.m.-4:30 p.m., Monday-Friday.
Designs for a future community art center on display for the public to view. Presented by Ball State architecture students and the Fishers Arts Council.