FAQs
What is the Spirit & Place Festival?
Imagine an art fair or music festival. Talented individuals create the content (art and music), but the festival organizers provide the framework to showcase that content. That's Spirit & Place. We provide a yearly theme to anchor juried events, staff support and guidance related to audience development, collaborative possibilities, and event design, and also provide some promotional support. Together, Spirit & Place and its community partners leverage their strengths to unite Central Indiana in a 10-day celebration of the arts, religion, and humanities. Typically, 100+ organizations and individual artists collaborate each year to create 30 to 40 independently-organized festival events (exhibits, performances, panel discussions, film screenings, and more) that inspire sustained conversation related to the yearly festival theme each November. Read our Belief Statements.

When is the Spirit & Place Festival?
The 2020 Spirit & Place Festival will be held from November 5-15 and will explore the theme of ORIGINS.

What about the 2020 theme?
How does reality come into existence? Whether striving to understand the Earth’s creation or the roots of buried assumptions in our own hearts, humans have often looked back to beginnings – to the preciousness of the past – to make sense of the present. 

If it weren’t for the search to uncover life’s mysteries, would the humanities – history, law, ethics, languages, philosophy, etc.–even exist? Without origin stories and myths, would the world’s religions be able to help us wrestle with our moral purpose? As naturally creative creatures, we know early humans used the arts (from cave wall paintings to ritual dance and sacred sounds) to declare and celebrate the stories of their origins. 

Spirit & Place invites you to examine how origin stories and myths help us wrestle with morality. How cultural and social biases influence the formation, interpretation, and impact of origin stories and how these stories have collectively shaped us. Whether exploring the founding of a faith, city, or favorite superhero, we invite you to share (maybe even re-imagine!) the origin stories that matter to you. Which stories of genesis, birth, and transformation fuel your soul and provide spiritual growth? How might the arts connect us more deeply to our origin stories? How did our emergence as a species, and a nation, shape our understanding of race, class, and gender?

How does the Spirit & Place Festival application & selection process work?
Interested festival partners should consult the application guidelines and attend the February applicant meeting. The deadline to submit an online application for the 2020 festival is Friday, May 1 by midnight. Prospective applicants are encouraged to speak with the Spirit & Place Program Director about their ideas as well as to have their applications reviewed. A Selection Committee comprised of arts, humanities, and religion professionals (e.g., artists, public programmers, museum/library professionals, clergy, nonprofit leaders, etc.) meet in June to curate the festival. Successful applicants are notified in mid-June.  

What is the Public Conversation?
The Public Conversation is the closing, marquee event for the festival. Available to the public free of charge, this moderated dialogue, held annually since 1996, explores the theme through a spontaneous, on-stage exchange among nationally known figures.  Read about our past conversationalists.

Who manages the Spirit & Place Festival?
From 1996 to 2019, The Polis Center, an independent unit of the IU School of Liberal Arts/IUPUI at IUPUI, managed Spirit & Place  with the guidance of a Steering Committee, and the help of many community volunteers. In 2020 Spirit & Place moved locations and is now housed directly in the IU School of Liberal Arts at IUPUI.

How and when did the Spirit & Place Festival begin?
The Spirit & Place Festival grew out of a nationally prominent research project (the Polis Center's Project on Religion and Urban Culture) that examined the relationship between religion and community in Indianapolis. The notion of place shaping identity emerged when Indiana natives Kurt Vonnegut and Dan Wakefield, along with John Updike, were invited to speak at Clowes Memorial Hall in 1996 through a collaboration with Butler University. Engaged in a "public conversation” rather than a keynote speech, this lively presentation was augmented with ten other events designed to allow residents of Central Indiana to explore questions of community and identity. Spirit & Place has been an annual event since 1996.

How is the festival funded?
Spirit & Place is generously supported by a key partners including Lilly Endowment Inc.; Allen Whitehill Clowes Charitable Foundation, Inc.; Bohlsen Group; The Indianapolis Foundation (a CICF affiliate); The Polis Center at IUPUI; IU School of Liberal Arts at IUPUI; and dozens of other donors, volunteers, artists, and community partners. See complete list.

What are the future festival dates and themes?
TBD

Where can I get more information about the Festival?
For more information, or to be added to the Spirit & Place mailing list, go to our Contact page, call 317-274-2462, or email: festival@iupui.edu.