Through The Roof

When the Arts Council of Southwestern Indiana was searching for a new space, the organization looked at all areas of the city’s urban core. Members and donors, however, wanted to remain part of the Main Street revitalization. In February, the Arts Council officially opened its new space in the former Christian Science Reading Room at 212 Main St. — one block south of its former spot at 318 Main St. in Innovation Pointe.

The selling point, says executive director Anne McKim, was the ability to finish the rooftop space for additional programming. Already, the Arts Council has used the terrace for a free monthly summer concert series called On The Roof that runs through September.

“We wanted to add a much more cosmopolitan event space and art space to Main Street,” she says. “We knew this building was perfect for a gallery and that space was perfect for all of our ideas of what we could do up there. We wanted the roof to be an open-air extension of the gallery.”

The furnishings and look for the space were all intensely considered. A gray acoustic paneling material was chosen on sections of the wall, harkening to the gray wool suits sold during the building’s past life as a clothier. Plaster was left on sections of the brick walls to show the iterations of what the building has been and seen. Carpeting was pulled up to reveal the original wood floors, and the drop ceiling was removed to open up the lofty pressed tin ceilings. All of the furniture on the rooftop was commissioned through artists, all local with one Louisville-based artist.

“It’s a little bit of an archeological experience when you come in here,” says McKim. “Everything in here, all of the materials and finishes, are really intentionally chosen.”

The next phase is a fundraising goal of $150,000 to install an elevator that will make the rooftop accessible for everyone. The Arts Council also has plans for additional art, like murals on the side of the building and public outdoor pieces, over the coming years.

“We believe wholeheartedly that arts and culture are an essential part of economic development,” says McKim. “You can’t attract people to this community, you can’t retain talent in this community unless you have a vibrant arts and cultural scene. That’s the piece of economic development we bring to the table.”

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