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Arts and Humanities Local News

New Albany Plans to Apply For Cultural District Designation of It's Downtown

Elizabeth Kramer

New Albany has been featuring more arts and culture in its downtown in recent years, and now it’s looking to have that area become a state-designated cultural district. The city officially indicated this week that it will apply next month to the Indiana Arts Commission to receive the designation.

City plan commission assistant director Scott Wood says the downtown already has many features and events that can help it in its application.

“New Albany’s bicentennial is in 2013 and we’ve already begun incorporating public art as part of the celebration of our bicentennial,” he says. “Downtown is also listed in the National Register of Historic Places; there’s some great architecture.”

The idea of state-designated cultural districts has been gaining ground since Maryland was the first state to start such a program in 2001. Kentucky is working on a pilot program and Indiana launched its program last year. Their features vary. Some programs provide tax incentives to businesses and nonprofits within districts. Others, like Indiana’s, provide tourism marketing support.

Wood says he thinks New Albany could use that kind of support.

“New Albany has an impressive mass of cultural facilities in its historic downtown that we thought really deserved to be considered for statewide cultural district certification,” he says. “That certification would be yet another tool in our toolbox that would help tourism downtown, the Carnegie Center for Art and History and many of the other facilities we have downtown as well as our private businesses.”

Cities with areas accepted into Indiana’s Cultural District Program do not receive funding at this time, but some policy makers think that could change if the economy improves.

New Albany is the only southern Indiana city this year to officially indicate its interest in being part of the state’s Cultural Districts Program. Earlier this year, the districts in Bloomington, Carmel and Lafayette received official state recognition.

PHOTOS: The New Albany Riverfront Amphitheater (top); Flood, a large-scale video projection onto the YMCA building of the Ohio River water by Valerie Sullivan Fuchs and part of the The New Albany Bicentennial Public Art Project (bottom).

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Arts and Humanities Local News

New Albany Art Walk Celebrates History

by Stephanie Crosby

The New Albany Bicentennial Public Art Project kicks off tomorrow night with an art walk. Director Julie Schweitzer says there are five art installations that each depict a different aspect of New Albany history.

In one, she says, the artist looks at the local history of breweries and taverns.

“Her piece was made like a giant Lite-Brite out of beer bottles,” says Schweitzer. “The community participated, they brought the bottles and took the labels off, and she made new labels for each of the bottles that represented the breweries that used to be part of New Albany.”

Other art pieces look at floods and early settlement in the area. New Albany’s bicentennial is in 2013.

Friday’s art walk starts at six p-m.

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Arts and Humanities Local News

New Year Brings New Albany Bicentennial Art Project

While New Albany’s 2013 bicentennial is three years away, the Indiana city will be starting celebrating in the New Year with a public art project. WFPL’s Elizabeth Kramer has more.

Julie Schweitzer is the director of the New Albany Bicentennial Public Art Project which recently chose five regional artists who are making site-specific art work for historically significant sites in the city.

Sculptor Brad White is making a piece relating to the Underground Railroad, while Valerie Fuchs is creating a video about the 1937 flood that will be projected on the new YMCA building near a floodwall.

Schweitzer says the artists already have started their work.

“They are site specific and history specific to New Albany,” says Schweitzer, “so they have been working on those pieces and we’ve already had done some tests on sites. And then they’ll start installing those pieces in April.”

Schweitzer says the project’s Web page is following the making of the work and the places their work will be installed.

“There’s information on each of the artists and on each of the sites and the histories that correspond with those sites,” she says. “And there’s a place where you can send comments to me, which has been invaluable because I’ve found so many connections and histories.”

Schweitzer says an opening reception is in May for the currently chosen pieces as well as other events.

“Through the year, there’ll be events associated with those pieces,” she says. “So, there’ll be different kinds of walks and history talks and art talks that are associated with the project all year long.”

The project will have other art pieces installed over the next four years. It’s funded in part by the Carnegie Center for Art and History and the New Albany Urban Enterprise Association.