Festival Application Process

Do you have an awesome idea for the Spirit & Place Festival?
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Apply Now! Click here to begin the online application. Don’t forget to check out the resources below such as the Application Guidelines, Application Prep Sheet, and Narrative Examples for help. 

The Spirit & Place Festival a platform for the community to use the arts, humanities, and religion to explore a yearly theme. Organizations of all sizes and/or individuals are invited to pitch ideas through an application process. (This year’s deadline is May 17, 2024 at 5pm.)  Event creators are responsible for securing their own speakers, performers, venues, etc.

A Selection Committee comprised of fellow community members (not Spirit & Place staff) select which events make it into the festival based on a set of criteria including inventiveness, audience engagement, strength of collaboration, and theme connection.

Spirit & Place supports those selected for the festival by providing event coaching services; worksheets; check lists; general marketing support; select paid digital advertising; and other resources, including a $200 event stipend.

Download the 2024 Spirit & Place Festival Application Guidelines (click here for the Word doc or click here for PDF) today and don’t forget to check out our other resources below, especially the narrative examples and application prep sheet.

Questions about the application process? Email festival@iu.edu.

Application Process

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

The prep form is a Word doc. If you cannot open in Word, please contact us at festival@iu.edu.

Application Prep Form

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

Click here for a Word doc.

Click here for a PDF.

Application Tips

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

Click here for a Word doc.

Click here for a PDF.

Narrative Examples

November 1 – 10, 2024

Gratitude plays a role in several of the world’s religions, influences ancient and modern philosophical thought, and finds expression in a range of artistic practices. In November of 2024, Spirit & Place invites you to move beyond cliched interpretations of “thanksgiving” to explore the theme of GRATITUDE in all its depth and meaning.

By asking how our communities and organizations could be different if we foregrounded gratitude, we hope festival applicants will craft events designed to explore from where gratitude emanates, how it is expressed, the function it serves in public and spiritual life, and the ways in which human creativity has blossomed and shined when expressing gratitude. We also hope the community will be given a chance to express its own feelings of gratitude in participatory events aimed at strengthening our collective sense of place and belonging.

Check out our Theme Prompts to help you wrestle with ideas.

Click here for a Word doc.

Click here for a PDF.


Theme Prompts

Applicant Meetings
March & April 2024

Learn more about Spirit & Place, the festival application process, and meet others interested creating festival events. Although encouraged, attendance is optional and not required to apply to the festival. One-on-one meetings are available too.

Visit our Events Calendar to register today! Four options are available:

Tuesday, March 19  from 10:30-11:30am at the College Ave. Branch Library
Tuesday, March 19 from 6-7pm at the Haughville Branch Library
Tuesday, April 9 from 12-1pm via Zoom
Friday, April 29 from 12-1pm via Zoom
*The same information is presented each session and includes Q&A time.

Application Portal Opens
April 1, 2024
Applications must be submitted online.

Application Deadline
May 17 by 5PM 

Festival Meetings & Event Essentials
July through September
If selected for the festival, event partners will need to attend a required meeting on July 9 at 11:30am via Zoom and then meet a series of summer deadlines related to event promotions.

Please review the application guidelines (pg. 2) for more details on key dates and meetings.

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

  • Attend the required partner meeting on July 9 or ensure a collaborating partner attend.
  • Schedule a one-on-one meeting with the Spirit & Place Program Director prior to October 15.
  • Engage in event promotions, including:
    • Mentioning the event is part of the Spirit & Place Festival in all press releases, web descriptions, social media posts, and interviews.
      o Using the Spirit & Place theme logo, when possible.
      o Distributing Spirit & Place Event Guides. (Delivered to all venues and partners in September/October.)
      o Providing Bohlsen Group the name and contact information of a media contact.
  • Submit an event image and secure its use permission by August 1.
  • Create and manage an event registration system that secures permission to share emails with Spirit & Place.
  • Not repeat the event between August 1 – December 31, 2024 (some exceptions apply).
  • Use provided talking points and/or PowerPoint when introducing your festival event. (Includes asking attendees to fill out an event evaluation.)
  • Set out a table and chairs near the entrance of your event for Spirit & Place volunteers.
  • Submit a Partner Survey and supply a list of registrant emails by December 2, 2024. Failure to supply this information will make you ineligible for next year’s festival.

Click here for the full partner agreement as a Word doc.

Click here for a PDF.

Partner Agreement

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

  • Event coaching services
  • Website features
  • Enews features (~8,000 subscribers)
  • Social media features (4,000+ followers on Facebook and Instagram)
  • Paid digital ads on Google and Facebook. (Digital/social media strategy is subject to change.)
  • Printed promotional materials (flier templates, event guides and yard signs)
  • Public and media relations in partnership with Bohlsen Group.
  • Event evaluations summaries
  • Trainings & workshops

Click here for a Word doc.

Click here for a PDF.

Partner Benefits

Limitation and restrictions include:

  • Accessibility. All events must be hosted in ADA compliant facilities. Some exceptions apply to historic structures and outdoor events. Please contact Spirit & Place if you have concerns or questions.
  • No personal development workshops. The Spirit & Place Festival is a space for community-focused events.
  • No research studies. The festival is not a site to conduct research unless it is community-engaged. Please download the entire “Limitations & Restrictions” sheet to learn more.
  • No fundraising & limited fee-based events. Fundraisers are not allowed, and free events are preferred. Some exceptions apply (e.g., ticket sales to cover performance fees or meal costs).
  • Conflicting dates. Event creators select their own dates, but must be asked if change a date if the festival calendar is too crowded on one night or events with the same intended audience are scheduled at the same time.
  • Date restrictions. Events must be scheduled beginning any time on Friday, Nov. 1 and must conclude no later than 4pm on Sunday, Nov. 10. (The only exception are for exhibits with longer run dates, but some kind of festival event connected to the exhibit must occur between Nov. 1-10.)

Click here for a Word doc.

Click here for a PDF.

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 are focused on:

  • Strength of connection to the theme
  • Intentional use of Spirit & Place’s civic tools (arts, humanities, and/or religion)
  • Collaboration
  • Clarity
  • Inventiveness
  • Audience care
  • Commitment beyond self (i.e., reflection of Spirit & Place’s mission & values)

Special preference is shown to events that have a never-before-seen quality, are interactive, diverse & inclusive, inspire community engagement, and/or are strongly collaborative. 

Interfaith events are always welcome, especially those involving non-Abrahamic faith traditions.

Click here for a Word doc.

Click here for a PDF.

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, since 2015, have been moving away from a “pay to play” process to one in which we now support festival events with a $200 stipend.

We know this isn’t much and encourage applicants to find sponsors and donors for their projects. (Please note that sponsors and donors do not count as “collaborating partners” in terms of the selection process.)

Grant opportunities you might wish to explore include:


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

  • Wish Lists. Do not list collaborating partners, speakers, or other talent with whom you have not spoken! 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—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. To be blunt: Adding a bunch of partner names to your application for the sake of naming lots of folks is not going to win you points.
Red Flags


Erin Kelley


A native Hoosier, Kelley completed her bachelor’s degree in sociology and history from Ball State University and earned her master’s degree in public history from IUPUI. As the Program Director for Spirit & Place, she oversees the annual Spirit & Place Festival by working with 100

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Indiana University – Indianapolis
425 University Blvd., CA 003B
Indianapolis, IN 46202

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