April 4, 2019

Phalen Schools Receive Input From Local Arts Leaders On New Community Center

Earl Phalen - FILE PHOTO: Eric Weddle/WFYI

Earl Phalen


Leaders from local arts organizations met with officials from charter school network Phalen Leadership Academies to give input on a future arts and community center.

Around two dozen leaders from groups including Eiteljorg Museum, Indianapolis Children’s Choir, and Dance Kaleidoscope offered insight on the technical equipment, community engagement and creating partnerships.

In December 2018, Phalen received over $3 million from the Eli Lilly Endowment to renovate an old church building into a community arts center. Leaders say they want the facility will be a “safe place” for residents of Indianapolis’ far eastside community a neighborhood that's experienced high rates of violent crime. 

“We feel like the community has been underserved for a really long time where other districts are closing schools IPS just closed John Marshall [High we're opening and so we're trying to bring things to the community that they have not had access to,” PLA @ School 93 Principal Nicole Fama says.

The center will house a youth theater program and STEM-based opportunities. Local arts groups will also be invited to host events and performances.

Justin Wade, executive director of Young Actors Theater, currently partners with two Phalen schools to provide weekly instruction where students write and perform their own scripts. The program will be expanded in the new arts facility.

“How do we get the kids in the, in the mindset of being an innovator? How do we get them in the mindset of creating something that never existed before, so that when they're building their own script, are telling their own story,” Wade says.

The facility will also expand STEM program “Stemnasium” so students can use sound boards, lighting equipment and other production techniques.

Fama says the center will likely be open in September.

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