More than 650 artists welcomed men's college basketball fans to Indy.
No matter what, Indy is going to have its sports. Inclement weather? Sports. Global pandemic? More sports. For decades, Indianapolis has used the magic of athleticism to draw the world’s eyes to our city and 2021 was no different.
In March 2021, a group of creative minds came together–led by Indiana Sports Corp–to put local art, music, dance, and poetry all over downtown during one of the biggest sporting events our city has ever put on. Eyes of the world, meet Indy’s most talented.
Swish, a three-week long arts and culture festival downtown, featured outdoor art galleries, concerts, and more. Over 650 artists were offered paid gigs as thousands of fans visited the city to watch the entire men’s college basketball tournament. (Truly unprecedented.) This innovative offering gave audiences and performers a safe way to enjoy themselves.
Swish was funded through a Lilly Endowment Inc. grant received by Indiana Sports Corp and administered to the Arts Council. The performance series, curated by GANGGANG, was produced in 11 pop-up locations along the Indianapolis Cultural Trail: A Legacy of Gene and Marilyn Glick. More than 50 visual artworks, curated by the Arts Council and 60 On Center, were displayed in storefronts, turning downtown into a walkable, outdoor art gallery. Four of those artworks were large, 3D basketball court murals that doubled as selfie stations in high-traffic areas downtown.
“Indy arts being showcased during one of the biggest sporting events definitely put us on the map and gave us a platform to show how much talent the city has to offer,” said Shaunt’e Lewis, who created one of the 3D murals, For the Love of the Game: Live, Love, Ball!
“I was featured on the cover of the Saturday art section in the New York Times,” she said. “It gave me the confidence and boost I needed as an emerging artist, as a Black artist and most important as a female artist.”
The $905,000 grant from Lilly Endowment Inc. funded not only Swish, but other beautification and vibrancy efforts led by civic organizations including Visit Indy, Downtown Indy, Keep Indianapolis Beautiful, IndyHub, Indianapolis Cultural Trail Inc., Indianapolis Urban League, Indiana Humanities, and Indianapolis Airport Authority.