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Monumental Voices project aims to improve equity, inclusion in public spaces

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — Improving access and equity is Indianapolis public spaces is a monumental project, but Hoosiers sharing their voices will help get it done.

In a project called Monumental Voices, community member are asked to submit their thoughts on Georgia Street, Monument Circle and other places. Organizers want people to give their true takes on what can be done to make places better, and they know that may mean pointing out some of the good and the bad.

“That’s exactly right, we really imagined this as civic engagement on a massive scale,” said Mindy Taylor Ross, chief curator at Art Strategies.

People make the Circle City what it is, and an ever-diversifying population needs diverse places.

Monumental Voices is a digital campaign focused on four public spaces around the city: Monument Circle, the downtown Canal, Georgia Street, and Lugar Plaza. People are encouraged to talk about what they’d like to see as far as improving diversity and accessibility, and bringing in programs, art and culture … essentially, how to make people feel more welcome.

“We want to see more arts and culture downtown. We want to see more Black artists downtown,” Taylor Ross said. “We want to see more of our international community and our immigrant community downtown. I want to have spaces that are accessible to our differently abled communities.”

Feedback is already coming in addressing public safety, transportation, and seating. The organizations Art Strategies and GangGang are overseeing outreach and data collection.
It’s in partnership with the Indianapolis Department of Metropolitan Development.

“It really amplifies residents’ voices and can do that in a real, larger-than-life way and allows their creativity to really shine through,” said Rusty Carr with Metropolitan Development.

City leaders say efforts to move forward with projects such as this have been in the works since 2019. The success and diversity of Swish, a three-week cultural festival during NCAA March Madness games in Indianapolis, showed the city can do this.

“Not only, you know, is the diversity of the city reflected in what we’re doing, but also that the benefits of these public spaces are equitably distributed to all of our residents,” Carr said.

The submission will be used as data but, in October, all will be used in a large, digital exhibit broadcast on Monument Circle.