Indy Art and Soul

2 women who helped start ‘Art and Soul’ festival look to the future

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — Art and Soul has been beating at the heart of the city in tandem for 25 years.

Denise Heard was one of the original programmers.

“Art is universal. It transcends all races, genders, cultures, socioeconomic levels. Art is for all,” Heard said. “The mere fact that 25 years ago a  group of people sat around a table and said to do this. we did it and the year two they said lets do it again .. it just kept happening and happening. lets you know that art and soul is here to stay.”

Reflecting on decades of bringing awareness and appreciation of black art and music, this platform and legacy was always meant to be relevant.

“For them to say we are going to take this venue and create a space where everyone can come and all cultures can be celebrated that was an amazing thing. We needed it 25 years ago,” Heard said.

Alpha Blackburn was one of the original planners of the iconic festival.

“I take a certain pride in having come up with the name. And so glad that it’s pertinent,” Blackburn said. “They will never reach a point of bridging the cultural gap if we’re not in a place where we can physically see and engage and experience the art of another culture. And so Black artists have to be given a chance to be in the spotlight.”

Art has proven to be a catalyst in the changes happening from community to community. Blackburn said Art and Soul is the perfect opportunity to reflect and learn.

“I think it can only expand it can expand its reach. It can be more inclusive, in every respect, artists, very often lead the way in that regard,” Blackburn said. “I’m just hopeful that people who hear about it don’t just let the opportunity pass by.”

The year 2021 will be filled with performances and art pieces that embody the theme of “Black by Popular Demand,” focusing history that has been made and even more on the masterpiece happening in front of our eyes.

“I think we should get ready for an experience that will blow us away because it is going to be right here, right in front of us,” Heard said.

Here’s the full performance schedule.