With SPARK on the Circle in 2022, the artist-led cultural and community organization, Big Car Collaborative, teamed up with Downtown Indy and the City of Indianapolis to spark downtown with free, 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 enjoy our city. SPARK activities were free for everyone to enjoy.

What? With arts-based approaches, we teamed up to add extra energy at Monument Circle — the civic, social, cultural, and historic heart of our city.

When? Spark took place on Monument Circle Monday through Friday 11 am to 2 pm from June 20 to October 28, 2022.

Where? SPARK works all around Monument Circle. But we’re based out of the southwest quad of the corner in front of Emmis and next to South Bend Chocolate Company.

How are we doing this? With the support of our partners and funders, we added temporary furnishings like astro turf and bistro chairs along with free activities like big jenga and ping pong and entertainment like live music and all-ages creative activities.

Who? This work is for everyone! At Big Car Collaborative, 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 by foot, bike, and public transit) and financially (removing cost burdens that exclude some people). Read Big Car’s full statement on equity and inclusion here.

Why? Monument Circle is a unique, beautiful, historic place for all of us. And we’re dedicated to showing this as we Spark Downtown all summer and into the fall of 2022.

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.

What we’re doing now — hopefully on an ongoing basis — is very much like what we saw with this first SPARK and the extraordinary cultural experiences and artful infrastructure it brought to Monument Circle.

Download this 2-pager that describes the approach, goals, and plans for SPARK 2022.

Read more about our approach at Big Car Collaborative to placemaking and socially engaged art.