Staying Culturally Connected While Staying At Home

Irvington Vinyl & Books

Tony Valainis

In mid-March, as we all scrambled to figure out the best way to stem the spread of COVID-19 , one of the first things to suffer was art. Local organizations and artists reacted quickly and responsibly, canceling shows and events across the board.

Still! Many of those same creators have come up with imaginative ways for you to experience art from your sofa. Read on for how to keep up while keeping your distance.

For places like Newfields, where interaction with exhibits is a critical part of its function, the statewide closure of non-essential businesses presents a unique challenge. How does it continue its mission of educating its audience on the beautiful art it displays when no one can come to the museum to see it? They’ve remedied this problem with a 21st-century solution: making videos starring horticulturalists, conservationists, and curators, who describe their roles and provide educational content that peels back the curtain on their day-to-day jobs. And on its Facebook page, Newfields hosts trivia Thursday nights in April. On April 16, test your knowledge about iconic places and pieces on its campus.

The Art Assignment—the organization started by Sarah Urist Green—announced an effort to hold a virtual tour for Urist Green’s book, You Are an Artist: Assignments to Spark Creation. The organization will be hosting livestreams on Instagram and YouTube with artists and creators to help people find their inner creative spirit.

Conner Prairie—the living-history museum that highlights the history and way of life of 19th-century Indiana—has launched a series of videos encompassing question-and-answer sessions, demonstrations, and general education videos about its mission and area of expertise.

If you’re running out of ideas to keep the kids occupied, The Children’s Museum of Indianapolis has come to the rescue. Find links to Facebook Live content, brief behind-the-scenes peeks at museum exhibits, science experiments, and ways to stay active at home, thanks to coaches at the Riley Children’s Health Sports Legends Experience.

The Indianapolis Art Center is helping stoke creativity through several online features. On Instagram, its Featured Frames weekly themed photo challenge gives you reason to leave the house (safely, of course) and put your camera to good use. Demonstration and kid-friendly craft videos are under the YouTube tab here, and there’s a virtual gallery for its College Invitational Exhibition that was slated to open April 17. Finally, learn how to paint with coffee grounds and make your own clay, and put your family time to good use with art activities found on its resources page.

Wear your support on your sleeve (or your tote bag) via a new initiative, Local Love League. Joey and Sara Jean Potts of Guide & Anchor, Matinee Creative, and Rebekah Nolan have teamed up on designs for the Love is Contagious–themed line, and will donate 100 percent of net proceeds to the Indy Independent Relief Fund, which helps food- and alcohol-service workers, and the Hospitality Relief Fund, an effort launched by the Indiana Restaurant and Lodging Association.

United State of Indiana prints the Local Love League items, but the company has also been busy designing new products of its own to support various Hoosier causes. A portion of the purchase price from its All In This Together tees, tote bags, and coffee mugs supports the Terre Haute Catholic Charities Food Bank and the Fort Wayne–based Community Harvest Food Bank of Northeast Indiana, nonprofits from the hometowns of USI’s owners. Other offerings, like the Thank Your Librarian (Quietly) tee, back the Indiana Library Federation, while the Thank a Nurse (For Your Health) mug and the Pawnee Emergency Response Team tee boost the COVID-19 Community Economic Relief Fund.

When the postponed Indianapolis 500 rolls around in August, impress your race-day crew with your newly acquired Indianapolis Motor Speedway knowledge, courtesy of its digital archive. Each Tuesday for the next 12 weeks, the IMS will unlock a new decade of content featuring stories, photos, and sound bites from track historian Donald Davidson.

Actors Theatre of Indiana partners with the Carmel Symphony Orchestra to bring music to audiences through Facebook Live every Friday night on ATI’s Facebook page. Tune in for Broadway favorites and even a special cameo by Carmel Mayor Jim Brainard playing the piano (at least, he did on April 10).

The Indiana State Museum and the Indianapolis Cultural Trail have launched a similar initiative with online videos, with the ICT premiering its videos via Instagram Thursdays in April. Instagram is actually proving to be a valuable tool for lots of local organizations, including the Harrison Center, which has shared several posts of “social distancing dresses.” These articles, created by local artists, hang around your neck and extend down like a dress, but also branch out wide enough to ensure the necessary six feet of distance. The Harrison Center also shares local art created daily as part of its Scenes from Quarantine series.

The Stutz Artists Association will host an online open house during April. The open house will feature paintings, sculptures, jewelry, and more. The Association will feature one artist daily, promoting his or her work and providing contact info for those interested in making a purchase. Follow Stutz Artists on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram to learn more about the artists and their creations.

Do317, an organization that promotes Indy’s cultural events, has made the most of the current situation by starting the Do Stuff at Home campaign. Find a compilation of streaming concerts here. Now’s your chance to see past Metallica concerts or singer-songwriter Ben Folds taking live requests from where he’s quarantined in Sydney, Australia.

Irvington Vinyl & Books are fulfilling orders via email and mailing titles to your door. Simply email your name, address, and contact number, as well as the title you’re wanting to purchase to and your purchase will be shipped to you within 3-to-5 days. Simple as that.

It’s also a great time to finally tackle that Vonnegut book you’ve been meaning to read. He and other Hoosier scribes are on Do317’s It’s Lit: Books by Indiana Authors list, a collection of fiction, nonfiction, and poetry. And, as an important side note, in the spirit of shopping locally, many bookstores, like Indy Reads Books, offer online shopping or the opportunity to pick up books from their doorstep.

Classical Music Indy’s pop-up concerts are now online. Virtual Random Acts of Music debut several times a week on the organization’s Facebook page, highlighting local artists performing at home.

Indiana Humanities has made available its INseparable Films, a series of five short videos that tackle different ways of life in Indiana, ranging from urban to rural, and how the division between these lifestyles manifests itself. They launch Tuesdays in April via Facebook Live.

The Kan-Kan Cinema and Brasserie, a local independent art theater, was set to open in March, but the week before it hosted its founder’s party, it made the decision to postpone the opening for at least a few weeks. While this is disappointing news for the city’s burgeoning cinephile community, Kan-Kan’s programmers haven’t let the delay put a damper on their mission entirely. They announced that they would, for the time being, become an #athomecinema, launching a community Slack channel to accompany the virtual watch parties they were encouraging members of the community to engage in. They also announced that some of their events will still be held, albeit virtually, with a portion of the proceeds going toward the support of local film organizations. You can subscribe to their email list at

Written by Laura Kruty, Nate Lemen, and Cassandra Lombardo