Over the past several months, the Jordan College of the Arts (JCA) at Butler University has received more than $600,000 in grant funding from foundation partners in support of several of its community arts initiatives. Recent grants include $343,000 from the Christel DeHaan Family Foundation, $150,000 from the Allen Whitehill Clowes Charitable Foundation (AWCCF), nearly $150,000 from an anonymous local foundation, and $10,000 from Glick Philanthropies. These gifts are supporting a wide range of efforts originating within JCA to create diverse and inclusive arts programming and to remove barriers to arts education in Indianapolis. 

“The faculty, staff, and students of the Jordan College of the Arts take very seriously our contribution to the University’s mission-centered goal of ‘enriching our community,’ and we are grateful to our many community partners who recognize that and have chosen to invest in our vision,” Lisa Brooks, Dean of the Jordan College of the Arts, said.

The AWCCF and Glick Philanthropies grants are in support of the Indianapolis Center for Arts Education and Innovation (ICAEI), a JCA initiative aimed at creating equitable access to arts and arts education for learners of all ages. By connecting schools, artists, and organizations around the greater Indianapolis area, the Center hopes to serve as a convener and organizer for a collaborative approach to advancing arts education throughout the city. Funding from AWCCF and Glick Philanthropies will help to build the Center’s capacity as it establishes new partnerships and expands programming. The Center is particularly committed to activities resulting in reaching underserved populations in Central Indiana with quality arts education.

Grant funding from AWCCF will support the development of leadership capacity within the ICAEI. With the help of the grant, Lauren Shelton has assumed the full-time role of Executive Director, marking a crucial step toward ensuring the sustained growth and impact of ICAEI. 

The Glick Philanthropies grant will support the creation of a research arm within the Center, and in particular a pilot program cohort comprising multiple arts organizations including Arts for Learning, the Indianapolis Chamber Orchestra, the Indianapolis Women’s Chorus, and the Indy Arts Council. By fostering collaboration among diverse arts organizations through research, the Center hopes to create an environment where best practices are shared and collective knowledge is built, enriching the entire community’s approach to arts education.

“Support from our foundation partners is making a significant impact as we build ICAEI’s capacity and expand the scope of our work,” Shelton said. “These grants will strengthen the Center’s ability to connect schools, artists, and organizations throughout Greater Indianapolis, fostering an arts education network that empowers individuals and transforms communities.”

In her expanded role, Shelton continues to oversee the Butler Community Arts School (BCAS) as an initiative of JCA. The BCAS offers private music lessons, group classes, summer camps, and more in an effort to meet community needs through high-quality arts instruction. Butler University students serve as instructors known as teaching fellows, providing affordable instruction in music, dance, theatre, and visual art. Recent grant funding from the anonymous local foundation supports two BCAS teaching fellows providing music instruction to K-12 students at Christel House Indianapolis schools.

Shelton says the grant is an exciting representation of how Butler can serve as a bridge to enrich the Indianapolis community through arts education by connecting partners, sharing resources, and removing barriers.

The Christel DeHaan Family Foundation Legacy Grant will support the Butler Theatre Department’s Christel DeHaan Visiting International Theatre Artist program, allowing it to continue for the next decade and beyond. The program brings acclaimed international theatre artists to Butler for eight to ten weeks to teach special seminars in the Butler Theatre Department and direct and/or design a mainstage production, which offers Butler students and extended audiences a chance to experience diverse ideas and cultures through theatre.

“I am extremely proud of the innovative work our JCA faculty and staff are doing every day to extend the transformative power of the arts beyond the borders of our campus and into the greater Indianapolis community,” Brooks said. “With the help of our community partners, we can ensure these efforts reach broad audiences through meaningful opportunities to encounter and engage with the arts in our city.”