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The Many Sides of Fountain Square

When LISC invested to renovate three anchor entertainment venues in the Fountain Square neighborhood of Indianapolis, a renaissance was set in motion. The area has made a dramatic turnaround from market failure to stability to destination zone, inviting new businesses, housing stock, and people, too.

Case Study of Culture in Community Development

Walk around the blocks at the commercial center of Indianapolis’s Fountain Square neighborhood on any given evening and you might stumble across an album release show at Radio Radio, the in-house burlesque troupe at White Rabbit Cabaret, or a bluegrass jam at Arthur’s Music Store. You can stop on your route to savor artisan chocolates, enjoy a cold craft beer, or witness a man snore over his eggs at a greasy 24-hour diner.

Not too long ago, you probably would have wanted to stay clear of Fountain Square, with its drug houses and vacant buildings. Things have changed, however, and not just the new range of entertainment and dining choices—Fountain Square has added new businesses, housing stock, and people, too. Some residents and visitors welcome these changes and others feel threatened.

What is clear, though, is that revitalization efforts that focused on restoring entertainment venues, creating new facilities, and establishing housing for artists have been successful in altering the trajectory of Fountain Square.

The catalyst for this change was the restorations of three major buildings in the community, supported by the Local Initiatives Support Corp. (LISC): the Fountain Square Theatre Building, the Murphy, and the Wheeler. Investment in these buildings allowed Fountain Square to develop an arts-and-entertainment destination identity and experience a dramatic turnaround from market failure to stability to what now has even become speculation.

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Arts, Culture and Community Outcomes

A reflective report on LISC creative placemaking projects in four cities shows how community development intertwined with arts and culture can uplift neighborhoods, and bring excitement, income, pride and inspiration to the people involved. 

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