WHAT: Founded in 2010, PATTERN is a culture & arts organization with a proven track record of driving positive social change, accelerating the creative economy* and providing creators a platform for creative expression. We are an inclusive community of artists, creatives and makers on a mission to make Central Indiana a world-class destination for culture, fashion, art and music. PATTERN is a 501c3 public charity.
HOW: Mentorship, professional development, exposure in, and an opportunity to work on a world-class publication, access to unique events and a dynamic professional network, and special programs like the Creative Fellowship and StitchWorks (and COMING SOON! Artist Residencies at The Stutz) are all keys to helping us mobilize and support Indiana’s creative entrepreneurial ecosystem. Not only are we training future leaders who are creative problem solvers, but we’re also helping put Indianapolis on the map as a city filled with incredibly talented creators.
WHY: For a city of its size, Indianapolis lags behind peer markets in the size and strength of its creative output as well as inclusive and equitable representation of Black and other creatives of color. This is not for lack of creative talent, but rather a lack of infrastructure that allows creatives to thrive.
Our goal, as we enter our second decade is to lead the charge on addressing recurring challenges that our creative community faces.
Challenges for Creative entrepreneurs:
Wages, and Social Safety Nets: While Indianapolis is far more affordable than other markets, many creatives across age groups have to juggle multiple gigs to make a living wage. Wages made from creative work in Indianapolis are significantly lower than the national average. An added stressor to this is the lack of benefits and the inability to access health insurance and other social safety net supports.
Structural Barriers: Racism, sexism, and established industry players not wanting to make room for up-and-coming talent, among others, are significant barriers to entry and sustainable participation.
Underrepresentation: Leadership at major arts institutions and businesses is predominantly White, and the lack of visibility for the art/culture/music sector as a whole inhibits participation in the creative economy, especially for people of color.
Lack of Opportunity, Resources, and Mentorship: While there is some grant funding available for projects the conventional makeup of grants does not fully serve the Creatives’ needs by not providing basic support beyond project development. The need for access to equipment, resources, and innovative technologies is limited as well as a lack of access to professional networks that extend directly into disenfranchised communities. There’s almost a complete absence of apprenticeship & mentorship programs.
Need for Platforms and Physical Spaces: In addition to the disadvantages presented by traditional institutions in undervaluing work created by creatives, and especially Black and other creatives of color, there is a noticeable absence of physical spaces and platforms for non-traditional creatives to showcase their work. Those who are running such spaces never achieve a sense of having the ability to become institutionalized and established due to lack of financial support, further delivering a sense of minimal value and resulting in such spaces having short life spans. Additionally, there is a lack of shared arts co-working hubs that allow workers from different institutions and disciplines work alongside each other, increasing cross-institutional collaboration, and reducing silos in creative sectors.
Career Pathways: Participation in many parts of the creative economy is often not considered a viable career option. This is compounded by the low visibility the City offers for the arts and cultural communities, as compared to sports or tech, for instance.
Indianapolis’ Brand: Indianapolis is not known for its artists, creatives and makers. This is despite the cultural diversity and rich creative history of the city. This lack of a creative reputation means that companies that require creative talent to fill open positions do not consider Indianapolis as a viable destination to relocate or launch their businesses even though in many ways, Indianapolis is an excellent place to run a business in terms of value, access and available resources.
Consumer/Audience Education: Indiana consumers are less likely to spend on art and culture, or hand-made items, preferring instead to buy the more economical, mass-produced goods. Additionally, consumption of culture and arts is not a high priority for the majority of our home-grown population, and we must look to the new generation of patrons coming of age in order to help reverse this trend. In doing so, we want to find ways to acknowledge Indianapolis’ creative history and those who made it possible, particularly highlighting Black creatives.
Arts & Culture in the Media: Indianapolis has lost many platforms intended to support, market and celebrate the arts and culture in the city, These losses have left large gaps in the ability of artists and other creatives to be profiled and elevated as critical members of our community. The City should get as excited about its creatives as it does when a new tech company moves here. We need a sustainable ecosystem that encourages conversation about arts and culture, heritage and creative industries, and creates an atmosphere of reverence and respect for our large creative community.
A Brief History of PATTERN:
From a small group of fashion enthusiasts, PATTERN has grown into a large community of creatives working to advance their craft and city’s Creative Economy. Launched in 2010, we have:
- Published 20 issues of Award-winning, internationally distributed PATTERN Magazine
- Hosted 120+ events, connecting over 10,000 of Indy’s top creatives, leaders and influencers
- Planned and hosted four seasons of St’ArtUp317, a retail pop-up initiative to bring together landlords with empty storefronts and small brands and artists. These pop-ups have resulted in collective exposure of over 90 participating artists and small business owners to over 750,000 people – citizens and visitors.
- Promoted and helped bring attention to over 7,000 different cultural events and creative entrepreneurs around Central Indiana through our print & digital magazines and social media channels
- Hosted and mentored 120+ interns from all over the state, and beyond
- Launched the PATTERN Creative Fellowship Program which has graduated eleven Fellows, and is currently hosting three Fellows
- Launched a Creative Services program which provides our partner clients with creative tools, and, as importantly, generates revenue for our organization while providing hands-on professional development opportunities for our Fellows and interns.
- Planned and hosted an apparel tradeshow called SUPPLY for local lifestyle and streetwear brands. Since 2016, the tradeshow has allowed us to showcase 50+ local brands to the general public and provide the brand owners with opportunities for revenue and networking.
- Launched a Cut & Sew production facility called StitchWorks providing small batch manufacturing to local brands, as well as industrial sewing certificate program and apprenticeship to the general public.
We will continue to push the cause of inclusive community-building and economic development work focused on creative entrepreneurship, and look forward to continuing to be a champion of independent local arts and culture.
*We understand that “creative economy” is an imperfect term that does not adequately speak to the community, cultural, and educational practices. When we say ‘creatives,’ we are talking about those who do creative and cultural labor, both paid and unpaid, including artists, designers, authors, professionals, and creative entrepreneurs who freelance or “gig.” We define the creative economy as a rapidly growing economic force that has creativity as the main driver; the definition is evolving and is open to debate. Terminology matters: The term “creative ecosystem” makes sense to some people whereas “arts and cultural workers” works for others.