Festival Application Process

Do you have an awesome idea for the Spirit & Place Festival?
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Spirit & Place provides 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. (The deadline is typically in May.)  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, and other resources, including a $200 event stipend. Additionally, up to five events are nominated for a $1,000 Award of Awesomeness prize that is given out at the conclusion of the festival.

Download the 2023 Spirit & Place Festival Application Guidelines today and don’t forget to check out our other resources below, especially the narrative examples and application prep sheet, which includes the narrative questions.

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

Technical questions about the online application? Check out this FAQ.

Application Process

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

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


November 2-12, 2023

2023 Theme: NOURISH

Every living thing needs nourishment.

Seeds need fertile soil so that they might sprout. Those sprouts become crops that then need sunshine and rain to thrive. Animals need plants and other animal life to consume so that they might live to reproduce and continue the cycle of life.

We humans? We need nature’s bounty to sustain life too. But we also need music. And dance. And poetry, literature, faith, art, stories . . . and each other. Nourishment is more than sustenance. Nourishment is what is necessary for us to grow and be healthy not only physically, but emotionally and spiritually.

  • How does art feed the soul?
  • How do the humanities help us connect more deeply to each other so that we not only survive in the world, but thrive in it?
  • What do our faith traditions tell us about holding onto hope and nurturing a shared sense of purpose?

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

Theme Prompts

Applicant Meetings
March & April 2023

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! Five options are available: March 29 at 10am or 4pm, April 6 at 12pm, or April 13 at 10am or 5pm. The same information is presented each session and includes Q&A time.

Application Portal Opens
April 3
Applications must be submitted online.

Application Deadline
May 7 at midnight

Festival Meetings & Event Essentials
July through September
If selected for the festival, event partners will need to attend a required meeting in early July and then meet a series of  summer deadlines related to supplying promotional images,  registration links, event copy, and other “event essentials.”

Click the button below to better understand the festival workflow.

Festival Timeline: Key Dates & 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 6 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 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. (Eventbrite is preferred and Spirit & Place will provide instructions and training.)
  • Not repeat the event between August 1 – December 31, 2023 (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 1. Failure to supply this information will make you ineligible for next year’s festival.
Partner Agreement

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

  • Event coaching services
  • Website features
  • Enews features (~9,000 subscribers)
  • Social media features (4,000+ followers on Facebook and Instagram)
  • Paid digital ads (Facebook 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.

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, 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. (Just note financial contributors do not count as “collaborating partners” in terms of your application.)

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

Spirit & Place also provides 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

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

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