FORT WAYNE, IN – On Tuesday, May, 11, 2021, Fort Wayne City Council unanimously approved the designation of Arts Campus Fort Wayne as a cultural district. Coordinated by Arts United of Greater Fort Wayne, Arts Campus Fort Wayne includes seven venues and 17 presenting and resident arts and cultural organizations. 


“The designation of Arts Campus Fort Wayne as a cultural district in Fort Wayne highlights the outstanding contributions of individuals and organizations that continue to build on our city’s acclaimed arts and cultural scene,” said Dan Ross, Vice President of Community Development at Arts United.


In the City Council meeting on May 4, 2021, the designation ordinance was introduced for discussion. Council member Geoff Paddock, D-5th, read a statement on behalf of fellow council member Tom Freistroffer, R-at large.


“I am a longtime supporter of the arts and appreciate all of the work Arts United does to bring visibility and advocacy to the arts in Fort Wayne. As Fort Wayne grows and we attract new businesses and residents, arts serve a major role as a driver for quality of life improvements that can be enjoyed by everyone. From the Museum of Art or the Civic Theatre, to projects spearheaded by Art This Way and the Public Arts Commission, Fort Wayne embraces the arts and the social and economic benefits that come along,” read Paddock from Freistroffer’s statement.


“I am happy to support this resolution that will define and designate the Arts Campus a Cultural District within Fort Wayne. This is in line with community plans, including the 2016 Blueprint Update, and will further define the Arts Campus’ standing as a dedicated place for the Arts in Fort Wayne,” Paddock read.


Council member Tom Didier, R-3rd, commented that the arts build character in people of all ages and that this ordinance aligns with the overall plan for Fort Wayne.


Councilman Glynn Hines, D-at large, said the cultural district is a “high value asset” for the community that will present Arts Campus Fort Wayne as a destination. “This brings another arrow to the quiver of making Fort Wayne a destination,” he said.


The City’s approval of the designation fulfills an eligibility requirement for the cultural district to receive state recognition–an endorsement by the Indiana Arts Commission and approval from the Indiana General Assembly. In December 2020, Fort Wayne, Goshen, Kokomo, and Wabash were invited to apply for designation after they were recognized as Spotlight Communities as part of the Creative Community Pathway program.


On the Spotlight Community recognition, City of Fort Wayne Mayor Tom Henry, said “I continue to be encouraged by our community’s commitment to investing in the arts. It’s vital that we continue to recognize and appreciate how the arts help us express our values and build bridges between cultures. Through proactive initiatives and outstanding leadership, Arts United plays an integral role in ensuring arts and culture remain at the forefront in Fort Wayne.”


Established in 2010, Indiana Cultural Districts are well-recognized, labeled, mixed-use areas of a community, in which high concentrations of cultural assets serve as the anchor. Indiana Statewide Cultural Districts promote the exploration of and participation in the arts and humanities through cultural experiences that are unique to their communities. Marketing and promotional opportunities are available to cultural districts through state designation; work is currently underway at the state level for potential funding opportunities in the future.


On May 27, 2021, applications recommended for designation were reviewed by the IAC’s Programs, Grants and Services Committee, composed of peers from around the state specializing in cultural, leadership, community, economic, and tourism development. Final approval will be made by the full Commission at its June 25, 2021 Quarterly Business Meeting. If approved, Arts Campus Fort Wayne will join 10 other cities throughout the state with cultural district recognition.