NPArts Strategic Plan 2023: What it means for you

NPArts Strategic Plan 2023: What it means for you

The new Nickel Plate Arts strategic plan will guide our organization through 2023, building on what we are doing well, what we have learned during our last six years, and how we can best serve our community. With this new plan, we have honed several key elements of Nickel Plate Arts’ guiding tenets.

Our new mission is to cultivate arts resources to enrich the lives of everyone who experiences our community. In part, this is a departure from hosting and planning events and programs on our campus. This new approach spreads the arts more widely throughout the five towns we serve in the eastern half of Hamilton County, from Fishers to Atlanta. The execution of this new mission will allow us to reach more people and grow the arts more robustly.

Cultivating arts resources is a critical priority for us, and it will play out in different, exciting ways over the next several years. Building partnerships and being collaborative with those partners is paramount. For example, NPArts will be working even more closely alongside people to develop cool projects and events for the public to enjoy. Moving forward, you will see us enkindle new endeavors and find new homes for art to live on a more permanent basis.

How It Can Play Out

What does all this “collaboration” look like? To illustrate how the new strategic plan can play out in the future, consider NPArts’ Fairyville program. “Welcome to Fairyville” debuted in 2012 with an invitation to the public to build fairy houses from scratch and a few related events on campus at NPArts. Each year since, Fairyville has gained popularity and interest from not only individuals but also neighboring business owners. In 2018, we seized the opportunity to collaborate more fully than ever before.

On Saturday, April 21, at least 300 visitors came through our doors. Throughout the four-day Fairyville event, we sold out of every fairy-related item — books, crafts, weekend Fairy Tea Party reservations and more. We can’t estimate how many people walked the trail to see the fairy houses, but we did notice greater social media engagement of people sharing posts and pictures of themselves on the trail. The opening of a new section of the Riverwalk helped draw a crowd to the trail.

The huge increase in engagement by local merchants gave us even more reason to celebrate the 2018 Fairyville event. Main Street Noblesville helped us spread the word to encourage downtown shops, service providers and restaurants to create their own “fairy doors” to go along with Fairyville. A total of 16 merchants participated, putting out a small door to indicate that fairies were welcome there. Several shops created elaborate window displays. Kiln Creations offered customers fairy-themed items to paint.

There was so much organic embracing of the Fairyville program, with guests turning it into their own experience. Several groups came onto our campus to hang out and eat ice cream — clearly they had made Alexander’s a stop on their tour of downtown Noblesville. The ability for our event to engage and support the entire downtown community was exciting and illustrates the kind of impact NPArts can continue to grow for entire communities. We have proven that certain programs, such as Fairyville, are working really well. We also know that if we didn’t continue to expand it, it could collapse under its own weight. We have also discovered through our current approach to sales that we can regularly sell art in Noblesville — we’ve seen significant gains in art sales revenue year over year and repeat customers come in looking for something they know will be here. Building more relationships with artists, patrons and organizational partners will continue to feed the appetite for art in our region.

Municipal Partnerships Expand Arts Leverage

NPArts has always been eager to pursue and seize smart opportunities. Our new approach with the cities of Noblesville and Fishers are two examples of this, as they are now economically supporting us to serve as their arts organization. As such, we are participating in grant opportunities around streetscapes and public art projects. And more and more individuals are discovering how they can contribute to their communities’ arts initiatives. Darren Peterson, for one, has become the “father” of Noblesville’s crosswalk art projects.

We want to unlock more of the creative potential in people, organizations and processes. With the City of Noblesville, we are talking about public murals and how to simplify the process of installing public art. Working with Noblesville Arts Council’s public art committee, by the end of 2018, the city will have a system in place to make more of these public art projects possible.

Noblesville and Fishers have momentum, and existing resources and ideas from which to build. In a lot of ways, it’s easy to participate. In Atlanta, something of a renaissance is going on, thanks to Mr. Muffin’s Trains’ engagement of studio artists through the NPArts Atlanta Artist Studio Space. Since June 2017, NPArts has been managing the second floor of Mr. Muffin’s Trains as a studio arts space, arts incubator and place for community engagement. In Atlanta, the arts are reactivating vacant spaces and getting people excited about the community. Stay tuned for more related to the Nickel Plate rail corridor project and NPArts’ role in it.

A final way we are working with cities is through community event development. In Fishers, the big standout is the upcoming June 30 Spark!Fishers event, for which NPArts will publicize arts opportunities, plan stages and more.

Organizational Partners in 2018

Cities like Fishers have several existing groups, including the Fishers Arts Council and Fishers Music Works, led by great people who are carrying out exciting initiatives. This year, we are focused on helping such groups with services they don’t have the capacity or interest in executing on their own. We are figuring out how best to collaborate with such organizations and bridge the perceived gap between arts groups and the city administration.

Last fall, we helped Fishers Music Works facilitate a mini business strategy retreat. Ailithir McGill, NPArts executive director, participated to better understand the group and identify low-hanging fruit and priorities that have the biggest impact moving forward. At Hamilton East Public Library’s Fishers branch, we’ve worked with the Ignite Studio team to ensure a successful summer 2018 opening. Once Ignite is up and running, NPArts will refer people to Ignite.

As partnerships grow and collaboration builds, NPArts will continue to stay nimble, doing our part to support local arts resources in our region.

If you are interested in more information about the new NPArts strategic plan, please contact Executive Director Aili McGill at amcgill@nickelplatearts.org.

Casey Kenley
casey@caseykenley.com