Onward, upward with the arts

2013-02-17T00:00:00Z Onward, upward with the artsBy John Cain nwitimes.com
February 17, 2013 12:00 am  • 

One Region's recent Quality of Life Indicators Report gave the arts and culture sector the report’s only upwardly trending indicator of our region’s quality of life, noting that arts and culture enrich the lives of area residents and visitors.

With less funding and other limited resources, such as time and human capital, the arts along the South Shore are distinguished by creative collaborations, unique programming and, always, new faces.

A partnership between the South Shore Orchestra, Carnegie Arts Center and South Shore Dance Alliance resulted in a historic event as 2012 drew to a close: the first Northwest Indiana community theater production to tour China. “Rhapsody in Swing!” was a musical love letter of greatest hits from the jazz and swing eras. The tour departed on Dec. 26, visiting Beijing, Nanjing, Shanghai, Jiaxing, Hangzhou and a stop at the Forbidden City!

Closer to home, the new Miller Beach Arts & Creative District and Mark Spencer’s Mass Media VII will present esteemed American film, television, and stage actor Ed Asner in his one-man show “FDR,” on March 12 at the newly renovated Marquette Park Pavilion. This 90-minute solo performance has been called a “tour de force of the actor's craft,” following the polio-stricken president throughout his four terms in office, through the Depression and WWII. General admission tickets are $35 in advance, $40 at the door. 

Beatniks on Conkey opened in 2008 to give community theater companies and improv troupes a place to perform. Beatniks has produced variety shows and staged original plays by local playwrights, as well as musical reviews and open mic nights. Built and run by a family of volunteers, Beatniks celebrated its fifth anniversary in January. This month features a "Benefit Performance of the Vagina Monologues, Hammond" by Eve Ensler and "Why Torture is Wrong, and the People Who Love Them" by Christopher Durang. Beatniks is at 418 Conkey St. in Hammond.

In Michigan City, the Mainstreet Association continues to present the popular First Friday Artwalk every month in the Uptown Arts District from 5 to 8 p.m. The district is comprised of more than 25 local businesses, including art galleries, retailers, restaurants and community theaters. For a full listing of First Friday Artwalk events, visit the Facebook page for Uptown Arts District.

Purdue University Calumet is organizing an arts seminar scheduled for next fall, the type of regional convening that was recommended in the One Region report. Attendees will be invited to connect with area arts organizations and artists. The keynote speaker will be artist Janet Bloch, author of “Strategic Marketing Tools for Visual Artists.”

The symposium will offer sessions on marketing for artists, getting published, marketing the arts via social media, exhibiting your art, and making a living in the arts. There will also be a session on writing arts grants.

Looking ahead to November, the South Shore Convention and Visitors Authority will celebrate the 30th anniversary of Jean Shepherd’s "A Christmas Story" with the unveiling of an original bronze sculpture of Flick!

Timeless Creations, a group of sculptors from Highland Park, Ill., created the Michael Jordan statue at the United Center in Chicago and the new Orville Redenbacher sculpture at Central Park Plaza in Valparaiso. Their newest project will be Shepherd’s iconic “tongue on the flagpole scene" right outside the Indiana Welcome Center next to the flag pole, a permanent reminder to children and children at heart not to try a stunt like that themselves.

John Cain is executive director of South Shore Arts. The opinions are the writer's.

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