Indiana Black Expo announced March 19 it has purchased the Crossroads Bible College building on the east side and will relocate its headquarters there. The headquarters will house IBE’s new Performing Arts Academy for youth, which will include music production, dance, videography and photography studios. IBE will also have a theater and some early college initiatives at the new building.
IBE will spend about $4 million in total to renovate the building in phases over the coming years. Tanya Bell, IBE president and CEO, said she hopes to have the studios built before July, which is also the target date for programming to begin.
Aside from getting more space — the new headquarters is about 43,000 square feet, while its old headquarters on North Meridian Street is about 14,000 square feet — IBE is moving closer to some of the east side communities it’s been serving. Beechwood Garden and Hawthorne Place are only about three miles from its new headquarters.
“This facility will be a safe haven and hub for youth and families in our community,” Bell said at a press conference in a room that will eventually become a dance studio. “… IBE will target neighborhoods on the east side of Indianapolis to ensure that underserved youth have an opportunity to develop their talents and achieve academically and economically.”
Bell also said IBE is working with the Marion County Juvenile Division and Department of Child Services in hopes of getting mandatory referrals from those organizations.
Speaking at the press conference, Mayor Joe Hogsett said he hopes IBE moving and expanding its programming will help youth who are looking for creative outlets.
“Some students possess an intellect that is not sparked by traditional subjects,” Hogsett said. “But it is sparked by creative pursuits. … And once that spark occurs and a student feels the excitement of discovering their own potential within them and as part of them, they will develop confidence that they then can apply to any subject.”
The Performing Arts Academy’s programming is for youth ages 13-19 and currently has 100 students enrolled with about 30 more on a waiting list. Bell said IBE anticipates serving more than 300 youth in the program’s first year.
Joey French, a music production instructor, said the added space at IBE’s new headquarters will allow for more resources such as computers and equipment to make the recording studio look more professional. The goal, then, is for the arts to be an avenue to positively impact the youth who participate.
“Music, film, all the arts, that’s what they’re attracted to,” he said. “When you can speak on their level, they’re a little more receptive to your guidance.”
One of those youth is Amoir Gray, 14, who has been part of IBE’s music production program for about two weeks. Gray said the program helped spark a confidence that wasn’t there before.
“I feel like it’s an opportunity to expand what I do and to be able to get my message out to those who are less fortunate,” Gray said. “… It doesn’t matter where you’re from, it doesn’t matter what you do, it doesn’t matter who you are and what mistakes you’ve made. You can still grow.”
Contact staff writer Tyler Fenwick at 317-762-7853. Follow him on Twitter @Ty_Fenwick.