For decades, Indianapolis has been steadily gaining attention for its substantial arts culture. Residents embrace monthly First Friday events, music and art festivals, and as we have seen most recently, public art. This summer saw the rallying of art enthusiasts all over the city when “Ann Dancing”, the iconic art installation on the intersection of Vermont Street, Alabama Street and Massachusetts Avenue, was in need of repair.
The sculpture, which has occupied the intersection for 10 years, is a simple digital loop of a woman’s outline, swaying back and forth as if perpetually attending her own very low-key party. To me, she seems like she needs a red solo cup and an indie rock playlist to complete the vibe. But this past June, it was announced that Ann’s technology needed updating and she disappeared from her corner. It soon became clear that what artist Julian Opie had originally intended to be a temporary installation had become a permanent and necessary fixture to the area- and now it was now in danger of being removed.
What resulted was a fundraising campaign by the Cultural Trail: a call to action to “Keep Ann Dancing.” A website was created to collect donations and local shops like Silver in the City began selling Ann Dancing merchandise to help forward the cause. The goal? To raise $262,800 for the purpose of restoring and maintaining the sculpture, updating the plaza where she sits, as well as providing for other future installations along the trail.
Not everyone was enthusiastic about giving to the campaign- in one conversation I overheard a girl tell her friend, “for that amount of money, Ann needs to get some new dance moves.”
But a much more common response was shock that the beloved sculpture might not be there anymore to fascinate, inspire and cheer both Indy residents and tourists alike. One quote on the Ann Dancing site reads, “I love watching visitors imitate Ann for a snap or boomerang; kids point and stare in awe; locals standing around Ann engaging in laughter simply enjoying the community they live in.”
The sculpture has come to represent this city’s love of art for the sake of pure enjoyment. She proves that art pieces do not have to be heady or abstruse, although those certainly have their place. Ann Dancing can be enjoyed and engaged with by anyone passing by. She embodies the personality of Indianapolis: it is welcoming, it is fun, and it doesn’t take itself too seriously.
Despite the high cost and the short period of time required, the fundraiser succeeded in raising enough money to keep Ann Dancing for the foreseeable future – a testament to our understanding as a city that more than size or influence or infrastructure, it’s our culture that defines us.
If you would like to donate to the cultural trail’s fund to continue to maintain public art installations like Ann, or learn more about the breakdown of the budget, you can do so at https://keepanndancing.org/.