At the Monday, Nov. 8 meeting of the Wabash City Council, local leaders celebrated Wabash’s designation as the state’s newest Cultural District. Provided photo
At the Monday, Nov. 8 meeting of the Wabash City Council, local leaders celebrated Wabash’s designation as the state’s newest Cultural District. Provided photo
At the Monday, Nov. 8 meeting of the Wabash City Council, local leaders celebrated Wabash’s designation as the state’s newest Indiana Cultural District.

Mayor Scott Long’s assistant Bev Vanderpool said this served as their official announcement to the Wabash City Council.

On Friday, June 25, the city capped several years of work when Wabash was named the newest Cultural District by the Indiana Arts Commission (IAC). At the same time, Arts Campus Fort Wayne also received the designation to bring the statewide total to 12 communities.

The next steps for the Wabash Cultural District will be determined by the local committee, led by Wabash Marketplace. Additional community partners include the city of Wabash, Honeywell Arts & Entertainment, Grow Wabash County, Visit Wabash County, Wabash County Museum and a panel of artists.

Vanderpool said receiving the Cultural District Designation the committee continues to meet.

“Our current project is to design a logo for our local district,” said Vanderpool.

Vanderpool said they had just received a $3,000 grant from Arts Midwest for marketing materials.

“We are planning to dedicate the Cultural District with a celebration on First Friday in June 2022,” said Vanderpool.

In the application process beginning in 2020, Wabash was selected as a Spotlight Community within the Creative Community Pathway and was invited to apply for the Cultural District Consortium. Wabash’s application nominated the Wabash Cultural District with an 85-page dissertation. The application also focused on the vaudeville roots of the community that began in the early 1900s and can be seen today at the recently renovated Eagles Theatre.

Fort Wayne and Wabash join just 10 other communities as recipients of the Cultural District Designation. Indiana Cultural Districts also include Bloomington Entertainment and Arts District (BEAD), Carmel Arts and Design District, Columbus Arts and Entertainment District, Fishers: Nickel Plate District, Jeffersonville: NoCo Arts and Cultural District, Lafayette: Tippecanoe Arts and Cultural District, Madison Arts and Cultural District, Nashville: Arts Village Brown County, Noblesville Cultural Arts District and Terre Haute: 41/40 Arts and Cultural District.

To receive the designation, Fort Wayne and Wabash participated in the Creative Community Pathway program and most recently submitted an application that was reviewed by a public panel of experts specializing in economic and tourism development. Indiana Cultural Districts promote the exploration of and participation in the arts and humanities through cultural experiences that are unique to the individual communities.

Wabash has been working toward receiving this designation for at least five years as the city first applied to a statewide committee in September 2016.

The IAC announced in early 2020 that the previous “Cultural District Application” was morphing into the “Creative Community Pathway.” The goal of the program is to recognize communities that utilize arts and culture as a strategy for growth. Communities can receive either “Creative Community Designation” or “Cultural District Designation.”

On Dec. 11, 2020, the IAC voted to approve Wabash, Fort Wayne, Goshen and Kokomo for Spotlight Community recognition as part of the Creative Community Pathway program. These four communities were then invited to apply for Cultural District Designation.

In May, the IAC announced that Fort Wayne, Goshen, Kokomo, and Wabash had their applications for Cultural District Designation reviewed. Reviewing the applications were peers from around the state specializing in cultural, leadership, community, economic and tourism development. Applications recommended for designation were reviewed by the IAC’s Programs, Grants and Services Committee, with final funding approval made by the full Commission at its Friday, June 25 Quarterly Business Meeting.
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