Cultural Entrepreneurs in the Making


Herron High School junior Leila Vanest and sophomore Evelyn Allee have spent the 2013-14 school year planning the 13th annual Independent Music + Art Festival as part of a Harrison Center for the Arts internship program that focuses on Cultural Entrepreneurship. They wrote the following post about their experience.

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2014 IMAF coordinators, Leila Vanest and Evelyn Allee

See a need. Take a risk. Invest energy. Leverage resources. Network to build culture. Over the course of several years at the Harrison Center, those five core ideals have become extremely familiar to us. We’ve watched interns before us plan large events, run meetings, fill out grant applications, and numerous other tasks, but we’ve never had to fill those shoes ourselves. Now, as we are less than a week away from the 13th annual Independent Music + Art Festival, we have come to understand what it truly means to not only work and collaborate together, but also what it means to show leadership in an urban setting.

IMAF has been a Harrison Center event for the past thirteen years and this year we saw a need for someone to step up and coordinate it. We decided that although collaborating to take charge of this event was a huge risk, it was a risk we were willing to take. We have listened to dozens of bands, applied for grants, emailed sponsors, researched food trucks around Indianapolis, worked with many partners such as Amanda Taflinger of the INDIEana Handicraft Exchange, filled out permits, and recruited volunteers, touching base with each other along the way. We have also learned how crucial it is to network and leverage resources. Not only does it save time and money, it builds meaningful and long-lasting relationships. Working together and with others has helped us become more well-rounded as a team and as individuals in our community.

IMAF has been an incredible learning experience for both of us, but it has definitely presented its fair share of challenges. From food trucks cancelling at the last minute to putting up banners in a thunderstorm, it hasn’t always been smooth sailing. But throughout all of these challenges, we have not only learned more about ourselves, we have come to understand how to better communicate with each other. However, we must attribute a large part of our success to our advisory board. Every month, we would discuss the logistics of the event over pizza from local restaurants. What made our advisory board work was the unique expertise that each member brought to the table. Even though we all had different talents and personalities, the originality of each individual was what contributed to our achievements. Without the input and perspective of each member, this festival would never have been possible, and for that we are extremely grateful.

imaf crowd

Coordinating a festival for 7,000 people is not an average internship for two sixteen year olds, but through dedication, perseverance, and teamwork, we’ve managed to pull it off. We are very excited to see all of our hard work come together and we are so thankful for this opportunity.

~Evelyn and Leila

IMAF a day-long outdoor festival featuring local musicians, visual artists, and other “independents” in downtown Indianapolis. This annual event, now in its 13th year, honors local musicians and artists who perform original live music and create original work. It provides a unique opportunity for interaction with other local artists and the community. IMAF is a FREE event that will take place on Saturday,  June 14  from 12:00 noon until 8:00pm. Bands are featured on two stages in the exterior courtyard of the Harrison Center in conjunction with the INDIEana Handicraft Exchange, a D.I.Y. contemporary craft fair.