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May 09

AUTHOR: Jasmine Bejar
CATEGORY: Stories of Impact

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Art & You: Ryan Krueckeberg

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Art isn’t a one-way investment. And by that, we mean that the more that we invest in the arts, the more the arts give back to us. Art presents an irrefutable value to the entire community, and for Ryan Krueckeberg, art’s intrinsic value is just that—building community.

Ryan has always surrounded himself with artists and is heavily involved in many arts organizations, often enough that he’s consistently asked what his own art is. But Ryan isn’t an artist himself (he works at Lincoln Financial Group)—he identifies as an arts consumer. Experiencing other people’s art has heavily influenced his life, and Ryan paints the picture, saying, “Some of the best people I know are painters, musicians, dancers, etc., and they each add experiences to my life that, without them and their talents, I would otherwise miss. I tried to imagine Fort Wayne without its art scene; without the Arts Campus downtown, without Jennifer Ford Art or Wunderkammer; without live shows at The Brass Rail; without performances at the Civic Theatre. Needless to say, it was a bleak vision.

“I’ve seen people taking selfies in front of the mural on the side of Pint n Slice. I’ve seen conversations begin around a Sculpture with a Purpose piece between strangers. I’ve witnessed friendships start between two people who had never met before that art opening. I’ve seen events thrive in abandoned buildings for a pop-up art gallery. All of these situations have served to connect people to each other and their community. As we continue to grow and cultivate our local arts scene it will continue to grow the exposure of our city and our amazing community to a much wider community.”

Ryan’s passion for the arts drives much of his volunteer work (which to say he does a lot of would be an understatement). “I honestly believe that volunteering is a major cultivator of attraction to place. It makes an individual feel like they are making a difference which strengthens the relationship between the individual and the community in which they live. Fort Wayne is such an easy place to get involved and make real impacts whether its in the arts or not. If you have ever considered it and just haven’t made the leap, there is no better time than now than to get out and get involved.” Ryan is the current Vice President of Young Leaders of Northeast Indiana (YLNI), and this involvement helped him grow many connections in the community. He’s always offered his interest to helping out in any way he can, and naturally gravitating toward the arts, he’s found a lot of opportunities for ways to get involved and become a leader in the arts community. Some of his volunteer roles include the YLNI My City Summit Committee, Hobnobben Film Festival Co-Chair, Middle Waves Vibe Committee, Arts United Quality of Life Committee, Fort Wayne Dance Collective Marketing Committee, Leadership Fort Wayne Class of 2016 and Leadership Fort Wayne Winter Events Committee.

“We need our comfort levels tested and boundaries prodded. There is nothing wrong with discomfort. True progress brings tangible change and discomfort is a natural part of change. Let’s make art that makes people ask questions and maybe squirm with discomfort a bit.”

Ryan’s dedication to our community hasn’t gone unnoticed in the least. Ryan is a graduate of the 2013 YLNI Leadership Institute, recipient of the 2015 Millennials Making a Difference Award and recipient of the 2016 Forty under 40 Award. It is engagement from the broader community, like Ryan’s, that truly paves the way for a more successful Northeast Indiana. “I think we are on the right path towards an even more successful region. With continued investment from both public and private dollars towards economic development, we can continue the Road to One Million in attracting both jobs and talent to our region. One thing that I think is vital in this process is the consideration of the arts in [economic development] projects. The arts community exists in all levels of our community and implementing something like Riverfront Development or the Regional Trail Network without arts consideration would be a mistake.” Thankfully, our community leaders and members have responded. Local decision makers heard the call from community members like Ryan, and they’re working arts and culture into the regional priority.

Looking forward, Ryan hopes that our community will continue to test our comfort level when it comes to art, especially public art. “I want to see murals and sculptures instead of blank brick walls or empty yards and lots. I want public art to poke our comfort bubbles, start discussions and connect people that may or may not have otherwise ever connected.

“A city, a community, without the arts is like a coloring book without any color. Things like Artlink and Fort Wayne Dance Collective cause those black lines to begin to fill in with color and vibrancy. The arts to me is the soul, the identity, of a community. Every city can be built on its own black lines, but when community members begin to fill in those lines a community takes on it’s own shape and identity, and Fort Wayne has done, and continues to do just that…the artists, the organizations and the community overall elevate my life to be so much brighter and richer, and I am thankful for that every day.”

And we’re thankful for the time, talent and energy that you share with our the arts community, Ryan.