Art spreads throughout city with help of donors

May 4th, 2017

By Steve Warden | The Journal Gazette

From a singular Christmas tree for the Fort Wayne Ballet, to 30 gallery stools at the Fort Wayne Museum of Art, to a trio of murals painted by local artists – and several other projects brought to fruition since the fall of 2015 – city residents have been more than generous with their time, talents and dollars.

For the fifth time since its October introduction a year and a half ago, Arts United's Amplify Art endeavor has announced three new projects that hope to be funded with a $1,000 Arts United grant and individual donations. Organizations seeking donations are the Middle Waves Music Festival, the Hobnobben Film Festival and Vincent Village.

“It's great at raising awareness for arts projects,” Arts United communications manager Jasmine Bejar said of Amplify Art. 

The concept, she says, is a fundraiser for various projects involving the arts through social media. Once a project is announced, individuals may choose to donate to one specific project, or to all of those that are offered.

“We do traditional press stuff, but this campaign is leveraged through the power of social media,” Bejar says of getting the message out to the community. “We give the organizations all the tools that they need, and we coach them on how they can effectively use social media to raise money. We're not only giving people the opportunity to contribute, and organizations to make money, we're also giving these organizations ways to make new friends, and hopefully they can carry on way past Amplify Art.”

Since the initial four were implemented in October 2015, Bejar says more than a dozen projects received $55,083. So far, all of them have been completed.

The crosswalk murals between the Fort Wayne Museum of Art and the Arts United Center, and in the Auer Center parking lot, were among the first projects to be funded via Amplify Art donations. Others include buying a portable outdoor screen for the Cinema Center; murals on the North Anthony Boulevard corridor, and at the Brass Rail on Broadway; and portable gallery stools for Alzheimer's patients and the elderly at the art museum.

“Probably the most important thing about this is not the $4,000 they raise, but the 200 new friends that they make, … ” says Arts United vice president of community relations Dan Ross, speaking in generalities. “You get 100 people who have each given $20. You made 100 new friends and 100 people who are really interested in that project and are much more inclined to come and participate in it.”

Project suggestions are submitted to a volunteer committee, which, in turn, makes a recommendation to the Arts United board, which gives the approval for the idea to continue.

“All of these projects are really interesting,” Ross says. “In this last review process, we had six requests, and we had funding available to fund three projects. … It was fun to hear the level of interest that Arts United's board has in this project because they're all interesting projects that make a very tangible community impact. You can touch and feel these projects.”

For the Weather the Fort winter festival, nearly $5,000 was raised. For the Brass Rail mural sponsored by the Fort Wayne Free Art Collective, $3,610 was raised. The Nutcracker Christmas tree for the Fort Wayne Ballet received a $3,820 donation. And $5,583 was raised for the 30 portable stools for the museum of art.

Other than hoping to acquire individuals who will support the project, Ross says Amplify Art will continue as it has since its inception. “It does require funding in order to seed these grants, so we're currently looking for funders to help us do that,” he says. “It's only about two years old now, but the more projects we do, the more interest there is.

“We're kind of building that audience of people who want to support these kind of programs, but also the people who want to participate in them, who want to experience them. I think, from our perspective, while it's not just seeing these activities funded, but seeing people actually choose to invest their time to experience these things.”

At a glance

This month, three local organizations are looking to fund projects through AmplifyArt. Each project has been given $1,000 of their goal in seed money from Arts United. The Knight Foundation will match each donation from the public up to $1,500. Donations can be made through the end of the month at

Here is a brief look at each project:

  • Vibe
    • Organization: Middle Waves Music Festival
    • Funding goal: $5,000
    • What it is: A series of static and interactive art installations at the 2017 Middle Waves Music Festival in September.
  • Art Lab
    • Organization: Vincent Village
    • Funding goal: $5,000
    • What it is: An effort to create permanent art and a community art exhibit on the campus of the organization, which houses homeless families.
  • Blocknobben
    • Organization: Hobnobben Film Festival
    • Funding goal: $5,200
    • What it is: The block party is part of the film festival and includes food trucks and breweries, artists and a film screening with live score.

On the web: For more details and to read what each organization told The Journal Gazette about their project, go to

Categories Quality of Life