Weekly Features


Four Hoosiers to headline the 2013 Spirit & Place Festival taking place next week

October 29, 2013

Four Hoosiers who have made careers out of taking big risks will headline the 2013 Spirit & Place Festival's grand finale, the Public Conversation. The discussion will focus around this year’s festival theme “Risk.”

ChaCha CEO and founder Scott Jones.

ChaCha CEO and founder Scott Jones

Headliners include Scott Jones, the CEO and cofounder of ChaCha; race driver and team owner Sarah Fisher; Danville-based author and pastor Phil Gulley; and Indiana University’s own heralded jazz great David Baker. The festival takes place Nov. 1-10. 

“This year is exciting for us because all four of these people have practiced risk in their careers and experienced risk within very different dimensions,” said Spirit & Place Festival director Pam Blevins Hinkle.

“Risk” is expected to be a hot-button topic, and not just because of the very public careers by the four main speakers, said Hinkle. “The festival is about the challenges we face as a community,” Hinkle said. “We try to find what has the city abuzz and will generate public interest and discussion.”

While the Public Conversation is always the capstone of each year’s event -- this is the 18th year for the festival -- the 2013 event has a new and exciting opening event, as well: a $20,000 prize for the best project on reshaping notions of race in Central Indiana as part of “$20K: A Competition about Race.”

Among the final four projects in contention for the top prize is one by Pete Hylton, director of the IUPUI Motorsports Program in the School of Engineering and Technology.

The Spirit & Place Festival, managed by the Polis Center, a unit of the IU School of Liberal Arts at IUPUI, has made its mark during the nearly two decades of public events it has hosted. More than 600 community organizations have taken part in festival events, with more than 5,000 presenters – including artists, musicians and scholars, in addition to civic leaders -- and more than 250,000 people participating.

IU jazz legend David Baker.

IU jazz legend David Baker

“It’s become a wonderful tradition, a festival built on the arts, humanities and religion,” said Hinkle. She regularly gets calls from other cities and regions that want to explore what Indianapolis has, and how it shapes the community.

Recent Spirit & Place Festivals have focused on one-word themes that “build on earlier themes and years, and provide some continuity,” Hinkle said. In 2010, the theme was “Food,” followed by “The Body,” “Play” and this year’s “Risk.”

Events can be proposed by community organizations, but must be approved by a community panel and fit that year’s theme. And all must be partnerships from different groups and backgrounds, always opening up lines of communications with one another.

For more about this year’s festival, a full schedule of events or more background on the festival’s history, visit the Spirit & Place Festival website.

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