Moving In

Madison Area Arts Alliance finds space to open meeting, office space

The group was formed in 2012 to promote regional arts

(February 2020) – What started as an idea to gather local artists for conversation and inspiration has sparked a local movement, an alliance of artists and art enthusiasts in Madison, Ind., known as the Madison Area Arts Alliance. This alliance has led to the recognition of downtown Madison as an Indiana cultural district, sparked economic development in the community and served as a “bridge between the creative community and businesses,’’ according to Kim Nyberg, the Arts Alliance’s executive director.
The need for an Arts Alliance was established during a 2012 event called “Feed the Arts” that was facilitated by Bill Barnes, executive director of the Community Foundation of Madison and Jefferson County. Fifty-five artists spent the day talking together about what the arts mean to Madison, and they came to the conclusion that there needed to be a collective voice for artists in the town.

Photo by Sierra Moore

From left, Madison Area Arts Alliance Executive Director Kim Nyberg and Vice President Jane Vonderheide pose outside the new SPOT meeting and office space.

A group called the Blue Sky Team, comprised of Barnes, the late artist Bob Saueressig and a collection of 10 additional artists, gathered weekly to continue the conversation and eventually formed the nonprofit Madison Area Arts Alliance in November 2013.
With all of its rich history and partnership with the City of Madison, the Arts Alliance had yet to find its forever home until late last year when 326 Mulberry St. became available.
Individuals, Arts Alliance board members and supporters joined together with former building owner Ryan Arney and new building owners, Tony and Hilary Steinhardt, to secure the space for the Arts Alliance, and the “SPOT” (an acronym for Supporting People of Talent) was born.
Currently the SPOT is being used as a meeting and office space for the Arts Alliance, but the goal is to be the place where exhibits, interactive lectures and roundtable events all play a part in creating “a space to collect and exchange ideas and form partnerships,” said Nyberg. People will be able stop in and learn about Madison’s creative community or become more engaged in the arts themselves.
“I am beyond excited that the Madison Area Arts Alliance finally has a SPOT to call its own,” said Jane Vonderheide, local artist and Arts Alliance vice president. “To be visible and easily accessible in the heart of our cultural district is right where we need to be. Good things are going to emanate from 326 Mulberry St.”
Until the SPOT is officially open for public engagement, this not-for-profit organization offers a variety of ways for people to get involved in the local artistic community. “We are not only facilitating the creatives, we are working to enhance the quality of life for everyone in Madison.
It’s a wonderful way, as an artist, for me to give my time for the town I love,” said Vonderheide. As an arts-for-all movement, anyone can go to ww.MadisonAreaArts.org and submit art to be featured and have work showcased. Art enthusiasts and locals who believe in the arts as an economic benefit to the community can donate time or resources and residents can look forward to the upcoming Creative Summit planned from 6:30-9 p.m. Tuesday, Feb. 11, at the Red Bicycle Hall for no charge. The Hall is located at 125 E. Main St.
The Creative Summit will feature keynote speaker Michael Fortunato, a consultant California and Texas who will be examining the benefits of the arts for the economic state of the community and showing residents how to become a larger part of that process. In the same way, the SPOT is a part of the larger Kindness Project that the Arts Alliance is working on. Details about the project, including the creation of the Kindness Matters Mural located at the Mulberry Street parking lot, will be revealed at the Creative Summit. The mural will involve not only mural artists but also the involvement of the general public and will depict both Madison’s river heritage and make a bold statement about the importance of kindness in our community.
“We have such a large concentration of creative people, artists and cool events in our community. We need a place to share those unique assets with residents and visitors,” Randy Lakeman, the Arts Alliance president, said in a recent press release. “It is our hope that the SPOT will become a unique gathering place where people can share information and ideas about the arts.”

• Winter hours for the SPOT are 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday and by appointment. For more information contact Nyberg at (812) 801-9863 or online at www.MadisonAreaArts.org.

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