The Indy Arts Council is introducing new programming to take place throughout the summer and fall. 

Hosted in the Indianapolis Arts Garden, the new programming aims to highlight African American art, music and culture in Indianapolis through Art & Soul Sundays and The Garden Sessions. Indy Arts Council has hosted Art & Soul, a festival celebrating Indianapolis’ Black artists and creatives, during Black History Month for the past 27 years. But now, they want to bring that level of celebration to the community year-round, said Alexis Sandford, event and production coordinator for Indy Arts Council.

With Art & Soul Sundays, people can come out to enjoy free music and dance performances highlighting African American heritage once a month.

“I think we as a people just kind of feel pressured to do all the things that we can in 28 days and it’s over because nobody else is listening,” Sanford said. “We’re asking if you get comfortable, everybody gets comfortable with just seeing us out celebrating and just being ourselves normally, it’s no longer like a, ‘That’s just a special thing,’ it’s just a normal thing.”

Art & Soul Sundays is partnering with iibada Dance Company, FLAVA FRESH ! and Asante Art Institute — all of which are also partners for the Art & Soul Festival. Each of the events will take place in the Indianapolis Arts Garden one Sunday of each month. 

The idea is that a lot of folks of color are already out and about on Sundays, either for church or to spend time with family and friends — which makes it easier to pop over to the Arts Garden for some music or other entertainment, Sanford said.
Sanford said the first Art & Soul Sunday kicked off July 16 with “Str8 Up Frederick Douglass,” presented by Asante Art Institute.

“That was an opportunity for people to come to see singing, dance and acting all cloaked in hip-hop and jazz, but also telling the story of Frederick Douglass. And so, those are the types of things you can expect: Not just a normal concert, but a performance that gives you something you can think about or gives you something to feel.”

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However, The Garden Sessions, which will take place in the Indianapolis Arts Garden on Tuesdays and Thursdays, aim to bring the community together in a little bit of a different way, said Drew Kincius, founder and CEO of Sprintable.

“The Arts Council have been talking a little bit about doing some sort of pop-up/coworking, some sort of unique activations for the space during the week,” Kincius said. “To be able to say, ‘Hey, come by enjoy the music. If you want to show up and dance, go for it. But if you also need to rip out a couple emails, do some work; you can do that as well.’”

Kincius said good events need to give attendees multiple reasons to attend, and The Garden Sessions will offer the Indianapolis Arts Garden just that: a coworking and performance space. Kincius said people can stop by to enjoy music or live entertainment, get some work done or both as a new way to activate the space throughout the week. 

Not only will The Garden Sessions support a diverse lineup of working artists in Indy by offering them paid gigs, but it will also give music listeners a chance to hear a wide range of music genres and get to know their local musicians better by providing an opportunity to hear their stories during sessions. 

“What I’m excited about with this project is being able to give people a variety of reasons to come here, and I think people forget that there are an awful lot of people who are working and living Downtown,” Kincius said. “I think about the people who are working remotely in their apartments that live Downtown, and for them to be able to pop over and just take a quick walk over to The Arts Garden and spruce up their afternoon I think has a lot of appeal.”

All Art & Soul Sunday events are free to attend and family friendly. Performances are held on one Sunday of each month, July 16-Nov. 12, from 3-4 p.m. at The Indianapolis Arts Garden. The Garden Sessions will be held at the Indianapolis Arts Garden on select Tuesdays and Thursdays, July 18 through Oct. 19, from 2- 4 p.m. More information and a full schedule of events can be found at

Contact staff writer Chloe McGowan at 317-762-7848 or Follow her on Twitter @chloe_mcgowanxx.