Who? SPARK on the Circle is an ongoing partnership between Big Car Collaborative, Downtown Indy, City of Indianapolis Department of Metropolitan Development, the Capital Improvement Board, and the Indiana War Memorials Commission.
What? SPARK brings a free, fun, playful, welcoming, and art-filled park to the heart of Indianapolis. Here on Monument Circle, you’ll find comfortable places to sit in the shade, free games to play like ping pong and chess, a cafe serving food and drink, art experiences, and special offerings like live, local music. Big Car Collaborative approaches its aspects of SPARK on the Circle as a site and community specific public art project. Read more about Big Car Collaborative’s approach to placemaking and socially engaged art.
When? Visitors can enjoy SPARK on the Circle from 11 a.m. until dusk each day until November 3.
Where? New for 2023, the SPARK park utilizes the brick streets between the monument and the sidewalk on the southwest quadrant between Market Street on the west side of the monument and South Meridian. The southwest is in front of Emmis and next to South Bend Chocolate Company.
Why? SPARK is about providing positive experiences for the community of visitors, residents, and downtown workers who enjoy Monument Circle. We’re doing this by offering human-scale activities like playing games, enjoying live music, making art, and socializing in a comfortable place to take it easy, spend time together, and celebrate our city. We’re all about adding extra energy at Monument Circle — the civic, social, cultural, and historic heart of our city. Monument Circle is a unique, beautiful, historic place for all of us. And we’re dedicated to showing it off!
Who is it for? SPARK on the Circle is for everyone! We believe and work to ensure that public spaces and places in our city are welcoming and accessible (physically and programmatically) for everyone. This means making places people can access physically (removing physical barriers and make it safe and easy to access) and financially (removing cost burdens that might exclude some people).
What are our goals?
1. Honor the history and civic importance of the space while working to bring vitality to the space today and build toward a bright future of the Circle.
2. Help improve the quality of life of those who enjoy the Circle by supporting a thriving, welcoming, inclusive, comfortable, and fun civic and social space in the center of our city.
3. Provide an enjoyable, memorable, and surprising experiences for visitors to Indianapolis from across the state, region, country, and globe.
4. Support Indianapolis artists working in many genres. Co-leaders in this work, artists are a crucial part of what makes our city unique, creative, connected, innovative, and beautiful.
5. Spark economic opportunities for local business owners and entrepreneurs — including artists. Spark focuses on supporting Downtown businesses on or near Monument Circle.
Background: You might remember, in 2015, that Big Car Collaborative teamed up with the City, Downtown Indy, and many others to test — over a stretch of one summer — the big idea of prioritizing Monument Circle for people. Funded by a grant from the National Endowment for the Arts along with support from CICF and the City, this project (also called SPARK) proved very successful. Check out more about that project here.
In 2022, we enjoyed a year of regular activities in a few limited spaces while the Circle remained open for traffic. We did close the southwest quad for a weekend music festival. There, we saw the potential of this one quadrant staying closed as a park.