Creative Arts Steadily Growing in NEI

In Focus with Stéphane Frijia

Dear Friends of Northeast Indiana,

As we continue to unfold our 2024 Action Plan, our commitment is steadfast in identifying and nurturing the sectors where Northeast Indiana excels and a clear value proposition offer. Thus far we have already highlighted aspects of our value proposition for MedTech, Specialty Insurance, Defense and Aerospace, Food and Agriculture and Hardtech. Today, we want to spotlight another dynamic sector, that has been steadily growing, but less recognized — Creative Arts.

The Creative Arts sector in Northeast Indiana is a vibrant testament to the diversity and innovation thriving within our region. From film, music and animation to fashion and interactive media, our local talents pave the way for a flourishing creative economy. Giants in the industry, such as Sweetwater and Vera Bradley, have rooted their growth here, proving that our region is fertile ground for creative success.

For years, our local universities like Huntington University, Saint Francis, Purdue Fort Wayne, Trine and many others have developed the next generation of creators in many areas of the arts. Our graduates have become some of the best filmmakers, musicians, animators, artists, storytellers, actors and visionaries in the industry. Hoosier core values combined with a commitment to excellence in how we educate and how we lead, have proved to be a winning combination. Our talent is highly pursued and currently employed across the country from Los Angeles to New York to Chicago. It is our goal to see them continue to launch and grow new ventures here in northeast Indiana and positively impact our communities.

The opportunity is great. The theatrical and home/mobile entertainment market alone is greater than $300 billion, with more than half consumed in the U.S. alone, supporting on average, direct production and production-related jobs paying between $92,000 and $98,000 per year. Today, this is a technology-driven sector and we see opportunities to attract and grow business in VR/AR, gaming, industrial animation, music and production equipment, education and entertainment content production and more.

Our region’s music scene is growing quickly and will only continue to flourish thanks to companies like Sweetwater and its multitude of services including the world’s leading music technology and instrument retailer, state-of-the-art recording studios and its Performance Pavilion which regularly brings in Grammy-award-winning artists.

The City of Fort Wayne aspires to become recognized as a “Top 10 Music City” embracing its creative talent and its economic potential. The area already has significant live music assets and festivals like the Middle Waves. Saint Francis’ Music Technology Center in downtown Fort Wayne fosters growth in the music landscape with a facility that is equipped with top-of-the-line equipment, individual and ensemble practice spaces, recording studios, mixing suites, a piano lab and a master studio.

Huntington University’s Digital Media Arts program produces top-tier graduates who have experience in animation, broadcasting, film production, game development, screenwriting and television production. The university and its production company Forester Films are set to premiere its second feature film – Patterns – today.

At the forefront of Northeast Indiana’s fashion scene stand pioneers like Vera Bradley with their innovative designs, iconic patterns and brilliant colors on handbags, luggage, travel items, fashion and home accessories.

Our region is already a prosperous epicenter for the creative arts industry, drawing in top talent and nurturing a thriving atmosphere. Important investments in this space, accompanied by joint actions organized by industry successes, will solidify our region’s position as a vibrant hub for creative arts for years to come.

Warm regards,

Stéphane Frijia

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