Northeast Indiana brand

A bit of paint will define northeast Indiana’s counties as the place to live.

The Northeast Indiana Regional Partnership, in collaboration with Arts United of Greater Fort Wayne Inc., will create the Make It Your Own Mural Fest as a way to drive tourism and make the region the it place to live.

The mural festival will be held Sept. 8-18 throughout northeast Indiana’s 11 counties of Adams, Allen, DeKalb, Huntington, Kosciusko, LaGrange, Noble, Steuben, Wabash, Wells and Whitley.

Over the 11 days, regional, national and international artists will create 11 high-quality murals — one in each of the 11 counties of northeast Indiana. The murals all will be unveiled on the same day, with celebrations and events taking place all over the region throughout the duration of the festival to recognize the artists and the communities.

“Make It Your Own Mural Fest is an innovative, creative activation of the Make It Your Own brand intended to enhance the region’s efforts to drive talent attraction, talent retention and tourism by investing in quality-of-place assets and public art,” according to an announcement.

The regional mural festival concept, said to be the first of its kind in the state, enhances work of the Regional Cities Initiative, which as funded trail, riverfront and many other projects designed to make the area a draw for residents, and in turn, workers.

John Sampson, president and CEO of the Northeast Indiana Regional Partnership, said northeast Indiana must find transformational opportunities to accelerate the region’s population growth, highlighting the Mural Fest as one of those transformational initiatives.

“It was only a year ago when we launched the Make It Your Own brand for talent, and we’ve seen outstanding adoption from regional business leaders. Now, in addition to business leaders and our economic development partners, we are working closely with state and regional tourism partners to enhance the brand and align and maximize our efforts to attract visitors and potential residents. The Mural Fest will set our community apart on the national stage and tell Northeast Indiana’s story in a unique and authentic way,” said Sampson.

Each county in northeast Indiana is participating in this inaugural event, and specific mural locations will be announced soon. Locations in each county are determined through a community-led selection committee process with a combination of regional and local input. In March, artist applications will be available upon announcement of the mural locations, and regional, national and international artists will be invited to provide proposals.

Columbia City Mayor Ryan Daniel said investment in quality of place is critical for the future of northeast Indiana, and the Mural Fest creates opportunities for collaboration across county borders to maximize resources and outcomes.

“Projects like the Make It Your Own Mural Fest allow the region to collaborate at a county-level and invest in quality of place through public art in a new, transformational way to amplify the impact,” Daniel said in the announcement.

Elaine Bedel, secretary and CEO of the Indiana Destination Development Corp., said when it comes to branding, promoting and telling Indiana’s authentic story, the state understands the strong connection quality of life initiatives can have on economic growth.

“That is precisely why the new Indiana Destination Development Corp. was formed and why I continue to seek out new ways the state can partner with and lift up the work of our local communities,” Bedel said in the announcement. “Today’s announcement about the Make It Your Own Mural Fest is an incredible example of how innovation and creativity, combined with a motivated and passionate team, can bring countless new opportunities to a community.”

Susan Mendenhall, president of Arts United of Greater Fort Wayne, Inc., said public art is a unique opportunity to engage with visitors and residents and create an attachment to the community.

“Investing in quality of place is about giving the people of northeast Indiana the accessible spaces and compelling activities they crave, so they can connect with each other, express themselves, explore new ideas and interests, experience diverse cultures, be inspired and take pride and ownership in their community,” Mendenhall said in the announcement.

Mendenhall added that the mural festival will also include a mentee program to invite aspiring artists to learn how to create and install a large-scale mural.

The final unveiling event for the Make It Your Own Mural Fest will be held in partnership with the Downtown Improvement District and Art This Way Fort Wayne at the Art Crawl event Sept. 18 near The Landing and Promenade Park in downtown Fort Wayne.

Make It Your Own Mural Fest is supported through sponsorships from Parkview Health, Avangrid Foundation and 3Rivers Federal Credit Union. The mural festival is also one of four finalists for the Indiana Office of Tourism Development Destination Development grant program.

Additional details about the festival, including artists applications, will be released in March. To learn more, visit www.NEImuralfestival.com.

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