Festival Application Process

Do you have an awesome idea for the Spirit & Place Festival?
IUPUI Photo Library

Organizations big and small – as well as creative individuals – are welcome to apply! But how does this all work?

Spirit & Place provides a platform for the community to use the arts, humanities, and religion to explore a yearly theme. Organizations and/or individuals pitch ideas through an application process. Event creators are responsible for securing their own speakers, performers, venues, etc.

A Selection Committee comprised of fellow community members (not Spirit & Place staff) chooses the events based on a set of criteria including inventiveness, audience engagement, strength of collaboration, and theme connection. We support those selected for the festival by providing event coaching services, worksheets, check lists, general marketing support, and other resources. Up to five events are nominated for a $1,000 Award of Awesomeness prize that is given out at the conclusion of the festival.

Festival applications for 2022 will be due in May.

Questions? Email festival@iupui.edu.

Application Process


November 4-14, 2021
2020 changed everything. We – and the world – feel changed. This change has been exhausting, exhilarating, terrifying, liberating, needed, and not enough all rolled into one. We ask the community to reflect on the changes we have witnessed and experienced and imagine the steps needed to make further change possible.


November 3-13, 2022
Who are you? Who are we together? What happens when we hide part of our identity from view? How we identify and talk about ourselves, individually and collectively, frames how we walk in the world. Identity shapes stereotypes, institutional structures, cultural and civic values, policies, and much more. Our identities are deeply personal and often thought of in individualistic terms. No matter how personal the experience though, there is something communal about the ways in which we identify.

Want to create a Spirit & Place Festival event but need a little inspiration on how to tackle the theme?

The most important thing to remember is the theme should never be an afterthought to your planning.
Centering the theme throughout the process of selecting a topic, finding collaborating partners, and designing an event is crucial to  success.

Theme Prompts

Spring 2022

Prospective Applicant Meetings
Informational meetings for those wishing to learn more about the application process are held during the spring. 2022 meeting dates will be posted in January.


Application Deadline
Applications for the Spirit & Place Festival MUST be submitted using an online form. The online application portal typically opens in April with the application due in May.

Late June/early July

Applicants are notified of the Selection Committee’s decision.
All applicants receive feedback regarding the committee’s rankings.

REQUIRED Festival Meeting

July TBD
If selected for the festival, event partners are required to attend a general “next steps” meeting in July.

Check-In & Promotional Deadlines

Late Summer/Early Fall
Additional group and one-on-one check-in meetings and/or trainings are conducted during the late summer and early fall. July and August are a particularly crucial time when event partners work with Spirit & Place to craft event descriptions, identify images for promotional use, and approve copy for Spirit & Place’s printed promotional materials and website.

Online Application Tech Tip
The online application uses cookies to remember you. This means you may sign in and out from the same device as many times as you wish to work on your application. There is no “save” button, but rather every time you advance to the next screen previously entered work will be saved. You cannot edit your application after hitting the final “submit” button – so be careful!


Spirit & Place Festival event partners agree to the following. Please download the entire agreement and let us know if you have any questions.

  • Required Check-In Meeting(s). July & Sept./Oct.
  • Promotions & Marketing.  Festival partners must engage in their own promotional efforts.
  • Event Images. Partners agree to secure copyright permission for any images used to promote their event.
  • Event Registration. Partners agree to create and manage their own registration process, ideally via Eventbrite and supply registrant emails to Spirit & Place.
  • Event Logistics. Festival events should be unique and may not be repeated between August 1 – December 31 (some exceptions apply).
  • Post-Festival Requirements. The lead partner must complete an online satisfaction survey..
Partner Agreement

These are just some of the ways Spirit & Place supports its festival event partners.

  • Event coaching services
  • Website features
  • Enews features (~7,000 subscribers)
  • Social media features (4,000+ followers on Facebook and Instagram)
  • Paid digital ads (Facebook, Instagram, and Google)
  • Printed promotional materials (flier templates, event guides and yard signs)
  • Public and media relations in partnership with Bohlsen Group.
  • Event evaluations summaries
  • Trainings & workshops

Partner Benefits

The Spirit & Place Festival is a celebration of arts, humanities, and religion in community life. It is a platform for experimentation and a space to cultivate new relationships, catalyze civic engagement, amplify unheard voices, and uncover community solutions. The festival is an inclusive arena that often delves into difficult dialogues while embracing the idea of “adventurous civility.”

In other words, the festival is not a platform to preach to your choir, a podium from which to proselytize, a placeholder for existing events, or a mere marketing tool for your organization. Please read about Spirit & Place’s values to learn more.

Please download the form to learn about specific limitations and restrictions.

Limitations & Restrictions

A team of community reviewers—not Spirit & Place staff— representing various disciplines, faiths, races, genders, and backgrounds evaluate festival applications based on the following criteria. This makes the Spirit & Place Festival not only community-created, but community-curated!

Selection Criteria

Let’s be honest. Creating an event for the Spirit & Place Festival takes a lot of time, energy, and, in some cases, money. We strive to make the festival accessible to all applicants and realize we must continue to find ways to support the community’s work. Currently, Spirit & Place is unable to provide direct financial assistance.

We encourage applicants to find sponsors and donors for their projects. While you are not allowed to list funders as event partners, you may absolutely include their logos on promotional pieces, thank them publicly, and otherwise recognize their support.

You may also seek grant funding for your events and suggest exploring opportunities with organizations such as the Indiana Arts Commission and Indiana Humanities.

To provide some measure of support (and incentive!), Spirit & Place does provide a $1,000 Award of Awesomeness at the conclusion of the festival to the event that best:

  • Tackles the theme in a compelling way
  • Uses the arts, humanities, and/or religion in an innovative fashion
  • Provides a captivating format for attendees
  • Exemplifies the values and beliefs of Spirit & Place

Up to five events will be nominated by the Selection Committee and a team of judges will evaluate the events during the festival. Depending on available funding, Spirit & Place will try to make runner-up awards available.

Past Award of Awesomeness Winners

From catchy titles to how to best think about the arts, humanities, and religion, we have tips for you!

Application Tips

What makes a well-written Spirit & Place Festival application? Download examples from past applicants who knocked it out of the park!

Narrative Examples

“Red Flags” the Selection Committee will give lower scores on include:

  • Wish Lists. Do not list collaborating partners, speakers, or other talent you have not spoken to! The application is not a wish list of people and organizations you would like to work with if selected. Rather, you should only list those—who even if not 100% committed—have expressed an interest in being involved.
  • Outside Your Lane. Look for partners who round out deficits in your proposed event and/or bring in a unique point of view, especially if you are tackling a topic outside your mission area. Events about oppressed groups that fail to center the expertise and voices of those groups in the planning of the event will face additional scrutiny.
  • Transactional Collaborations. The strongest collaborations are co-creative with partners involved in the early design stages and/or providing content expertise. Spirit & Place staff and the Selection Committee realize developing the relationships needed to secure venue space, staff support, and supplies is also important (time-consuming) work. Collaborations that appear transactional or “in name only,” will be scored low.

Before beginning the online application, please download this application prep sheet to review the application questions and other information you will need to supply.

Application Prep Sheet


Erin Kelley


Erin Kelley is a public historian, public programming professional, dog-lover, beer geek, and voter. At Spirit & Place she serves as the Program Director where she oversees the annual Spirit & Place Festival by working with 100+ community partners across sectors and disciplines. Kelley wa

Spirit & Place
IU School of Liberal Arts at IUPUI
425 University Blvd., CA 003B
Indianapolis, IN 46202

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