Spirit and Place Festival: Indianapolis Arts and Humanities Collide

The Spirit and Place Festival is an annual festival in Indianapolis; each year a unique theme inspires the community through public forums and activities.  The goal of festival organizers is to bring Indianapolis arts, humanities and religion together to spark a conversation about civic engagement, respecting diversity, and enduring change in the Indianapolis society. The mission of the Spirit and Place Festival is to act as a catalyst for community betterment.

Over the course of seventeen days, the organizers of the Spirit and Place Festival strive to convey innovative and inspiring ideas by connecting places, organizations, and people through an array of stimulating public programs. The festival opener is always a public conversation between three noted individuals about the festival theme for that year. The conversation is spontaneous yet moderated and takes place before at least 12,000 onlookers. The event is held at the Polis Center on IUPUI’s campus, right in the heart of downtown Indianapolis.

Video about the events happening at the Spirit and Place
Festival in Indianapolis, Indiana


In the more than two weeks that follows, various public programs occur throughout the circle city in dialogue with the theme. Dozens of Indianapolis community organizations create tailor made activities that welcome the people of Indianapolis to participate. The many programs offered range from workshops to panel discussions to concerts, plays and exhibits to lectures and worship services. The majority of these programs are free to the public, and nearly all offer opportunities for audience participation.

The Spirit and Place Festival has a strongly articulated belief that arts, humanities and religion can exalt us, make the Indianapolis community better and stronger. The idea of the festival grew from the deep-seated belief of the School of Liberal Arts that arts, humanities, and religion are what connect people together and open up the hearts and minds of each individual citizen.The gatherings during this Indianapolis festival are intended to break down barriers in thinking each separate Indianapolis community might have in order to better serve Indianapolis as a whole.  With this widely attended Indianapolis event, the school hopes to enhance the creativity and interrelations of Indiana communities through the strengthening of cultural awareness and broadening of horizons. Participants in the program are encouraged to believe in themselves and their fellow citizens and to always seek improvement in every aspect of their lives.


By sharing a linked narrative throughout the community, participants are bound by their personal and collective histories. In order to maintain the health of the Indianapolis community, the festival fosters understanding of different values, traditions, customs and cultures. With this set of beliefs, The Spirit and Place Festival reaches over 250,000 people in Indianapolis, collaborates with 150 Indianapolis arts organizations, and makes itself known in all of the seven Indianapolis cultural districts.

The success of The Spirit and Place Festival in Indianapolis depends largely on its volunteer base. Volunteers, whether for the festival specifically or for any of the involved artistic organizations, make each event run like a well-oiled-machine. However, the festival also depends on the financial support of many Indianapolis businesses including the Lilly Endowment Inc., Butler University, IUPUI, the University of Indianapolis, the Indianapolis Public Library, the Christian Theological Seminary, WFYI, Franklin College, The Children’s Museum of Indianapolis, the Indianapolis Museum of Art, and dozens of other organizations.

In November 2009, the Spirit and Place Festival’s theme will be “Inspiring Places.” This year some goals for the festival are to explore how inspiring places are created by individuals and community to create fresh narratives and dialogue among the different parts of Indianapolis, and to explore non-geographical spaces such as the mind or the heart, among others. If you want to feel inspired or are just looking for fun things to do, participate in this years Spirit and Place Festival; visit their website!

Spirit and Place Festival
The Polis Center at IUPUI
1200 Waterway Blvd #100
Indianapolis, IN 46202