Appreciating Our Assets

My husband and I just returned from the Phoenix Theatre’s production of “Avenue Q.”

We had seen the show on Broadway a few years ago, and thoroughly enjoyed it, so we had a pretty good basis for comparison–and this show was every bit as good as the production we saw that night in New York. The singing, acting, stagecraft–all were absolutely first-rate. It was just a great show.

Sometimes we forget how much talent we have right here in Indianapolis–and how important it is to support our local cultural assets. The Phoenix was the first local professional theater to produce cutting-edge new plays and emerging playwrights, and it has consistently been intellectually provocative and technically excellent. The IRT, another important community asset, provides more mainstream fare, and over the years both theaters have been joined by several others–not to mention various other performance venues.

City leaders talk a lot about the importance of science and technology to economic development and the local economy, and it is undeniable that efforts like Bio-Crossroads and Internet II are vitally important to growing our city. But a flourishing arts community is equally important. A vibrant arts community–galleries, theaters, festivals, poetry readings, Fringe festivals–contributes to a good quality of life, and that in turn appeals to what Richard Florida calls the Creative Class, which in its turn contributes to job creation and economic development.

On a more mundane level, world-class entertainment helps fill local bars and restaurants and generates foot traffic for retail venues. (Studies suggest that those who patronize the arts add much more to the local economy than do those who attend sporting events–although public support for the latter is many times the support we give the arts.)

The Phoenix was sold out for the Sunday matinee, and evidently tickets are going fast. If you are lucky, you might still be able to see this fabulous performance of “Avenue Q.”  And if Indianapolis is lucky, we will continue to attract people like the Phoenix’ founding director Brian Fonseca–people who enrich our community and add immeasurably to the quality of our urban life.


  1. It seems pretty clear that arts and economic development go hand in hand when you visit Mass Ave on First Fridays–there are far more people out on these evenings than any other. I recall one of my undergraduate professors mentioning a study about Minneapolis’ culture and it’s effects on economic development. I believe the name of the study (which I can’t find) was “Gays and Rock and Roll and Economic Development.” I mean, how else would you describe a frozen tundra in Midwestern US being so metropolitan?

  2. I am in Lucerne right now. As far as I know, there are no big sports teams here and the place is booming. The streets, restaurants and stores are full of people. They do have concert halls, great museums and a lake in the middle of down town. Their population is far less that Indy. Maybe we need a lake downtown. Could we flood something?

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