Northeast Indiana is getting a new festival – one that will bring 11 large murals to 11 counties in 11 days.
The Make It Your Own Mural Fest, a collaboration of the Northeast Indiana Regional Partnership and Arts United of Greater Fort Wayne, was announced Thursday as a way of creating quality-of-life improvements that will draw attention – and potential residents – to the region.
“We've adopted a vision for being a magnet for the best talent and the best businesses, and we are convinced that working together we can be,” said John Sampson, the partnership's president and chief executive officer. “We're not only trying to get people to come to visit but come to stay.”
The festival will bring regional, national and international muralists to execute one themed mural each in Adams, Allen, DeKalb, Huntington, Kosciusko, LaGrange, Noble, Steuben, Wabash, Wells and Whitley counties.
The event will begin Sept. 8 and end Sept. 18 with unveiling celebrations around the region.
The Fort Wayne unveiling, in partnership with the Downtown Improvement District and Art This Fort Wayne, will take place during the Fort Wayne Art Crawl near The Landing and Promenade Park downtown.
Susan Mendenhall, president of Arts United, said public art provides an unexpected opportunity to engage with visitors and residents.
When someone comes to a community, it should have a place and a character that person will remember, she said.
“Where do you take your selfie?” Mendenhall asked, noting a mural can provide a memorable backdrop. “That's what this mural festival is all about.”
Organizers of the festival said many details remain to be worked out.
But they said applications for artists to apply will be released in March. There will also be a selection process for mentorships – opportunities for student artists or inexperienced muralists to work on a volunteer basis with those creating the murals.
Committees in the counties will choose from idea submissions and determine which walls will receive a mural.
Alex Hall, of AH Public Spaces Consulting, said after the announcement that all the murals will be on private property and the walls' owners will be responsible for maintenance, although little is expected in the first 15 to 40 years.
Murals will not be done on historic spaces and eligible walls must have been previously painted, she said.
The project will cost about $200,000, Sampson said. It does not involve public money but is being funded through grants and sponsorships, he said.
The partnership also has engaged a place-marketing firm, Development Counsellors International of New York, to draw national media attention to the project, which he said was the first of its kind in Indiana.
Also at the announcement at the Parkview Mirro Center, Elaine Beddel, CEO of the new Indiana Destination Development Corp., said the project also is part of that launch to aid creation of tourist attractions.
She said the project is one of 19 that will be part of the agency's first grant competitions. A winner will be named in March, she said.
Fort Wayne Mayor Tom Henry and Columbia City Mayor Ryan Daniel also spoke at the announcement event.