I remember walking into my first day at PATTERN as a journalism intern, slightly late from circling the block in search of affordable parking, notebook full of story ideas and an uncertainty of what my summer had in store for me. My goals for my time at PATTERN were simple – to write stories about interesting people and to have them published online. Today I can confidently say that I not only achieved, but surpassed these moderate objectives. While getting to know some of Indianapolis’ brightest creative entrepreneurs and honing my skills as a reporter and writer, I learned a lot about the city where I was raised.
I often defend Indianapolis from jokes made by people who have never been here about it being some sort of a cultural desert. Although I thought that I knew Indy pretty well before this summer, one of the first things I learned upon beginning at PATTERN is that there is much more to the city than what meets the eye. Most foam finger-wagging sports fans have a misperception that the city’s arts scene begins and ends with the Indianapolis Museum of Art, where hoity-toity critics in black turtleneck sweaters sip espresso and discuss Chagall. But interning with PATTERN revealed to me another side of Indianapolis’ creative scene.
Indy’s art community is a young and accessible one, where creators can be free from the constraints of high costs of living and saturated markets. Where artists fresh out of college can host a pop-up gallery in an old Boost Mobile store on the east side of town and nearly sell out of paintings. Hoosiers are discovering their hunger for art in all of its forms and they love to buy local. It’s truly the perfect time to be young and creative in Indianapolis.
It’s probably true that Indianapolis will continue to invest in conservative outlets like sports at a higher rate than the arts, and as a sports fan and former athlete I understand the benefits of doing so. We shouldn’t have to choose between sports and art. Indianapolis can be a destination for people seeking to make a career in either. However a lack of funds leaves much of the work to nurture the city’s arts scene to us – Indy’s creatives, art enthusiasts and supporters of organizations like PATTERN. Indianapolis can continue to develop into a more beautiful, inspired and livable place if we decide to make it this way, and I believe that there are more people willing to put forth the effort than may meet the eye.
This summer I genuinely enjoyed working alongside some of the people who are leading the city’s transformation. Sure, I learned how to be a better journalist, added a bullet point to my résumé and discovered that there is no cheap parking downtown on weekdays, but through getting to know Indianapolis’ creative side, I also gained a newfound appreciation for the city and an optimism for its future.